For many, New Year’s Eve is characterized by fireworks, apple cider and watching the ball drop in Times Square. For others, though, the start of the new year is also filled with unique traditions, from cultural customs to cherished family trips. Four West Ranch students share their own traditions, shedding light on the many ways a single holiday can be celebrated.
Janice Jung (12)
For Janice, New Year’s is a time for family. True to Korean customs, Janice participates in the traditional bowing ceremony, or jeol, that the youth of each family typically perform for their elders as a sign of respect in exchange for small envelopes of money. Janice explains, “Our family obviously is less traditional because we don’t dress up in our traditional Korean clothes, but we still go to our grandpa’s house and we do the jeol. We get sebae don which is where we get money for doing the bowing ceremony.” Afterwards, Janice and her family enjoy a bowl of rice cake soup, or tteok guk. “Eating the tteok guk signifies that you are one year older because in Korea we do the birthdays by year, not actual birthdays,” Janice explains. For Janice, eating a meal with her extended family and reflecting on the years past is one of the most special parts of this tradition that she has been enjoying for her whole life.
Drestine Leogo (12)
New Year’s is not only for spending time with family but also making sure good luck passes on. Drestine’s family makes sure that every light in their house is turned on to ensure a brighter start to the new year and to bring in good luck. “Ten minutes before the new years we have to turn on all of the lights in the house. It doesn’t matter if it’s a lamp or a bathroom light we have to turn it on. It’s to bring luck for the new years and to make the house brighter for the new year.” Another tradition her family has is making as much noise as possible when the clock hits midnight, which she explains is “to scare away the bad luck of the previous year and introduce new luck.” Drestine also shares the significance of these traditions: “It’s special because it’s only done once a year and we’re all together when we do all those things so it makes it feel more merrier and more at home. You have all these people around you that love and support you and you know you’ll conquer the new year together.”
Kishneet Kuar (9)
Freshman Kishneet Kuar enjoys New Year’s Day immersed in her Sikh religion. Every year, she and her family go to their temple to “spend time with family and God.” Kishneet enjoys a day filled with food and catching up with all of her relatives and friends. Some of her favorite dishes served at the temple include samosas (a deep fried pastry enjoyed throughout India) and a traditional rose milk beverage, rooh afza. The day is always lighthearted and jubilant, never too heavy. “It’s just to have fun,” she explains. “It is a way for all of my family to be together in one place with our friends because everyone just meets up there.”
Gianna Gonzalez (11)
Everyone celebrates New Year’s differently and that is what makes it so special. Giana’s family has a well-known tradition of staying past midnight but with a little twist: “My favorite part is drinking champurrado with my family and just being all together and seeing my family from Mexico, West Virginia, and Washington.” Champurrado is known as Mexican hot chocolate. It is made with cinnamon sticks, masa harina (corn flour), piloncillo (raw form of pure sugar cane), star anise and of course, the chocolate. “What makes this all special is that this is the season and time for everyone to come along together and just spend time with each other,” she said.
New Years is a perfect time to be with the ones you love and celebrate different traditions to remember those times before us.