New Yearâ??s culture

January 2, 2013

In Japan, many families celebrate both Christmas and Japanese New Year, according to Tamane Takehara, 12, Clarks Summit. The Japanese observe the New Year holiday with special food known as Osechi, which can include mochi rice cakes, beans, other vegetables and shrimp. The kinds of osechi dishes prepared at Japanese homes vary from region to region.

Here in Clarks Summit, Tamane, daughter of Shintaro and Shinobu Takehara, eats food she does not typically have at other times throughout the year. She and her family, which includes brother, Saye, 7, stay home on New Year's Day.

Some of the toys Japanese children play with during the holiday season are Yakkodako, a kite, and Hanetsuki, a traditional Japanese game that resembles badminton.

They also receive gifts of money known as Otoshidama, which Tamane said she saves because, I'm not really a spender, so I just save it. Japanese children often receive gifts both on Christmas and New Year's Day.

During the New Year's holiday, one of the customs is to visit shrines, but here in the states, she and her family stay home.

Penn Wu, 12, celebrates Chinese New Year at home in the Abingtons with his family: dad Arthur Wu, mom Shu Qiu and brothers Dalton and Sylvan Wu.

Penn eats dumplings, noodles and sometimes food his father brings home from Chinatown, including a rice bowl with red bean paste. One of his favorite treats is a rice cake available in two varieties: white and brown sugar. He likes the brown sugar flavor.

One of the differences between New Year's Day in America and Chinese New Year, according to Penn, is, Americans eat all of those Christmas foods and they drink eggnog and other food like that, but we eat dumplings and rice cakes and it's a lot different from the Western style of celebrating, said Penn.

During the Chinese New Year, it's a custom to give each other festive red envelopes known as Hóngbâo with money inside.

Penn also gets a haircut, which is one of his father's hometown traditions. And he is allowed two additional hours of computer time as a special treat.

Chinese New Year is the most celebrated holiday in China, and Penn and his family honor the customs by watching a show broadcasted annually through China Central Television or Chinese Central Television, commonly abbreviated as CCTV, the predominant state television broadcaster in mainland China. The show includes traditional singing and dancing and is produced in China.

In 2013, Chinese New Year will be celebrated on Feb. 10.

Penn said, I think Chinese New Year is a fresh start and anything bad that happened previously you just forget about it and start a new life.