Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Roosters, Religion and Rebellions ~ Let’s Celebrate!

Gong Hei Fat Choy (gung hey fah choy) Wishes for great happiness and prosperity
-- New Year’s wish in Cantonese

This last weekend in Hawaii we ushered in Chinese New Year. Sometimes called the Spring Festival on mainland China or Lunar New Year in other Asian locales, its arrival is as significant to many as is the New Year that arrives each January 1st.

We are fortunate to be in this U.S. island-state in the middle of the Pacific to experience all the hoopla that marked this new year’s arrival. Experiencing the festivals and holidays significant in the religions and cultures of others is one of the big benefits of travel, to our way of thinking. Take the   the three R's of celebrations. . .

First, the Rooster

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This is one of the many roosters who live on the island of Kaua'i
Sometimes, as with the Chinese New Year, such experiences can be had right here in the United States.  We’ve experienced Chinese New Year in Hawaii and Las Vegas where hotels, restaurants and shopping centers are decked out in oft-times dazzling decorations and offer special new year deals and delights to customers.

Had we not been in Hawaii though we’d have likely not had as much 'to do' about this new Year of the Rooster as had we been at our Pacific Northwest home. Chinese New Year isn’t a big event in the Seattle suburb where we live.

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This is one of the resident roosters at the Courtyard Marriott on Kaua'i
As part of the celebration we've learned the rooster is the 10th animal of 12 on the Chinese Zodiac. And it is this bird’s year to shine!  In addition to 2017, other Rooster years include 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, and 2005. Special events have been taking place in Honolulu’s Chinatown and at locations in dozens of towns and resorts throughout the Hawaiian islands. Performances, fireworks and special events are held to celebrate the New Year. Restaurants prepare special menus.

At this resort decorations ranged from paper streamers and red Chinese lanterns to works of art. One of the most exquisite we’ve seen is this floral rooster centerpiece of the lobby at the Four Seasons O’ahu here at Ko Olina, on the island’s west coast.

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Lobby Four Seasons O'ahu at KoOlina
The island’s Red Ginger plant and anthurium are among the many blooms used in this creation.

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Year of the Rooster

Then, the Rebellions

A few years ago we found ourselves near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on the 5th of May and we were surprised at how low-keyed the Cinco de Mayo celebrations were as compared to the way it is hyped and celebrated some thousand miles away in Washington State – by Americans.

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Salud! A margarita toast to Cinco de Mayo
Maybe we have Corona Beer and the marketing teams for tequila and tortilla chip manufacturers to thank for the hype up north.  Or maybe it is the influence of the Mexican farm laborers who are key to the state’s agriculture industry. . .in any event, the day is celebrated con mucho gusto!

(The 5th of May is the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, a battle which resulted in the unlikely victory of Mexico over France in 1862. Although I doubt if many who celebrate it in the U.S. know much about the date’s significance.)

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Oxi Day Celebration in Kardamyli, Greece 2015
The Oxi Day (Oh-hee) Day celebration in Greece on October 28th  commemorates the rejection by Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Mextaxas of the ultimatum made by Italian dictator Benito Mussolini on 28 October 1940, Mussolini wanted the Greek Prime Minister to allow the Italian army free passage to enter and occupy strategic sites in Greece unopposed.

Oxi is the word for “No” in Greek.

Businesses close and school children march in parades, don traditional clothing, perform dances and make speeches in our villages. In the larger cities the military often play a large role in the celebrations.

And Religion

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Water Ceremony in Bangkok, Thailand

Sometimes the luck of being in the right place at the right time  has given us the chance to participate in very sacred, subdued celebrations as happened in Thailand last year.  We are still not sure of the significance of the water ritual with which the Buddhist Monks welcomed us to in Bangkok, but it was an unforgettable part of our travel experience in Southeast Asia.

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Easter Saturday 2015 village of Agios Nikolaos, Greece
And long time readers know our love of celebrating Easter in the Greek Orthodox style.  This has to top our list of favorite celebrations. Each village and town in Greece puts their own particular twist on the candle-lighting ceremony the Saturday evening before Easter Sunday.  Some burn an effigy of Judas, others send ‘him’ out to sea in a boat and others, like our village, set off fireworks as part of the late-night celebration. We are already looking forward to this year's celebration.

IMG_20140326_040214_004I used celebrations in this post in hopes of illustrating how enriching travel can be. The freedom to travel – whether close to home or far-distant places is something we cherish  Experiencing new cultures, customs, traditions and the celebrations associated with them is something vitally important to us. We  hope these passports continue to be invitations and not barriers to the world’s celebrations.


Now it's your turn: what celebrations have you experienced as a result of your travels?  Have a celebration that takes place in your part of the world that you want to recommend to others? Tell us about them in the comments below or shoot us an email and we’ll add your suggestions to the comments.   Until the next time ~ safe travels to you and yours!

Linking up this week with these other bloggers:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
Photo Friday
Travel Inspiration .

22 comments:

  1. Agree celebrations are one of the best ways to get insights into a culture. I have celebrated Songkran in Thailand and Independence Day in Mexico. Recently, I was able to attend a film and gastronomic festival in Vienna. That was an awesome experience! #TPThursday

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  2. We also had a chance to experience Songkran and what a time it was! I love the sound of that gastronomic festival in Vienna! #TPThursday

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  3. As someone who shares your appreciation for travel and the opportunities to learn about other cultures, history and traditions, I am deeply disturbed by the effort to close US borders solely based upon the country of origin or religion. What a privilege it is to be able to travel with a US passport and I like your comparison that travel abroad is interdependent with a welcome and invitation to share US culture. Sadly however, there could be many reasons for a future Oxi Day in the States no longer united ...

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    1. You got my message loud and clear! Not sure everyone did. ;-)

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  4. Gong Hei Fat Choy! We love stumbling upon chance festivals. We once joined a parade in Idaho as we were driving through the town during their annual "Atomic Days;" such fun! Thanks for linking up with #wkendtravelinspiration!

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    1. And thanks Jim for hosting the #wkendtravelinspiration linkup! Atomic Days, huh, sounds like our Tri Cities area near Hanford Nuclear Reserve where one of the high schools was the "Bombers".

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  5. As a little girl growing up in Toronto, Canada, Greek Orthodox Easter meant fasting, dying eggs red, attending church on Holy Saturday for the Resurrection, getting gifts from one's Godparents, and feasting on several dishes and tsoureki and koulourakia on Easter Sunday. BUT, the freedom to travel to Crete, and ultimately settle here, has allowed me the chance to experience Greek Orthodox Easter in ways that became personal: attending church during Holy Week to pray and listen to the beautiful Byzantine hymns that accompany the different masses, baking tsoureki and koulourakia and dying eggs red on Holy Thursday, walking home after the Resurrection, guided by the Holy Light, breathing in the hypnotic fragrance of the orange and lemon blossoms along the way.

    You know what I mean.

    So glad you will be in your stone house on the hill for the beautiful festivities.

    xx
    Poppy

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    1. Greek Orthodox Easter is one of the most magical times in Easter. I still remember the church bells on Friday - their sad, sad sounds gave me chills - only to be replaced on Saturday night with peals of joy! xxx J.

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  6. I was in Cabo San Lucas on Cinco de Mayo and it was not a big deal. I was told it's for those "north of the border".

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    1. Yes, it is an interesting 'holiday' of sorts, isn't it?

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  7. O, I so enjoyed this post...so exciting to be there...and, as always, your photos are worth a thousand words..just beautiful.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the celebrations BJ and my photos!!

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  9. Fun post! I remember unknowingly stumbling upon Diwali celebrations in Delhi the first time I was there. Very lively.

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    1. Those chance celebrations are the icing on the travel cake, aren't they?

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  10. I get very excited when we plan a trip and it coincides with a local festival. We arrived in Naples last year on their patron saint's day and joined in a fabulous parade with people in costume, bugles playing, flag waving displays and even muskets firing. Another time we were in Sicily for the caper festival where the local ladies cooked dishes of food using capers and every danced till all hours. Great fun!

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    1. Jenny, I so agree about happening upon local festivals. I am still hoping to attend our Greek village's Sardine Festival one day. Loved hearing about the caper festival.

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  11. It's always great to discover a festival when you travel. I've been in Barcelona for the Gràcia Street Festival, Amsterdam for the Sinterklaas parade, and rural Panama for both the Thousand Polleras Parade and for Carnaval.

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    1. Oh Donna, you've hit a trifecta of good times! What fun sounding festivals and experiences you must have had!

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  12. I never say no to a celebration or festival when I'm traveling. This is the first time I've been in Korea for January 1. It was fun to see the red balloon sunrise ritual on Haeundae Beach in Busan, and visit the temple where many Koreans make their "good luck" pilgrimage on the first day of the year. Thanks for linking up. #TPThursday

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    1. It is such fun to experience another country's celebrations. And that sunrise ritual in Busan was an amazing one - I love how we all seek good luck in New Year celebrations no matter when and how they are celebrated. Always a pleasure to be part of #TPThursday!

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  13. We've experienced the lead up to the water festival in Thailand and Laos and in Kyoto, Japan we were welcomed to an intriguing Shinto ceremony at Fushimi Inari which we didn't understand but which was wonderful. That flower rooster is incredible.

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