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New ways to celebrate New Years

Updated: Jul 16, 2023

This year was the first time I celebrated four different New Years within one calendar year. In fact, before this year, I had never really considered how many different ways there are to celebrate the new year. Duh! Of course there is.

Had never really thought about it, but it's a learning journey I'm thrilled to be apart of. When we learn something new - a new skill, a new approach or a new perspective - it only adds to and enriches us. Let's use new years as an example.

Google tells me there's lots of ways different countries and cultures celebrate new years -- but I'll focus on the four I was part of this year.

1) 🗓️The new (calendar) year 🗓️

Of course as an AmeriKiwi - the calendar year has always driven my new years celebration. At first it was a winter celebration - more glitz and glam, and now in New Zealand, new years is a summer holiday full of beach and sun. 🌞🏖️😎


I've previously shared some reflections from our 2023 (calendar) new year's celebration in beautiful Northland.

With our annual mecca to Northland and work closed for summer shutdown period, the calendar New Year is always a time for us to reflect back and set plans forward. Every year James and I do a reflection and intentions discussion, roughly covering these topics:


Looking back on the past year:

  • Things we're proud of

  • Improvements we've made

  • Connections we've made / strengthened

  • Partner reflection & gratitude

Intention setting for the next year:

2) 🏮🐉Chinese New Years🏮🐉

My wonderful mother-in-law, Rennie, is Singaporean Chinese. Since becoming a part of the Mulholland family, I've been introduced to new food, new celebrations and new perspectives. How lucky I am!

Quick example of how different things are - the first time I went to James' parents for dinner (2012), Rennie made a dish with star anise. Apparently most people know that star anise is for flavouring, NOT for eating. 2012 Kristen did not know this.


Cue me eating a full star anise. Then because I was trying to impress his parents, I didn't just spit it out like a normal person (it's really not meant for eating). Instead, I ate it with tears running down my face. Not sure any of it was impressive...A for effort, I guess.


We celebrate Chinese New Years with James' parents and separately with some of our Chinese friends. Eating and drinking the night away. Our celebration is all about connection. It connects our shared Chinese, American and Kiwi cultures. But food, family and fun tend to do that, eh?


3) 💦🔫 Sangkranta: Khmer New Year 💦🔫

Sangkranta is the newest new year I've celebrated. In April 2023, we were lucky enough to celebrate the Khmer New Year in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The Khmer New Year is coincides with the solar New Year in SE Asia. And it is an absolute blast.


We first landed in Cambodia (my first time) and as we're driving down the road I'm like 'damn, Cambodians really like water guns.' Little did I know that they were gearing up to celebrate new years - in the form of a three-day country wide water fight.

You'd get soaked with water (sometimes ice cold!) and sometimes get baby powder touched onto your face with by a smiling person yelling HAPPY NEW YEAR! Everyone was in a good mood. There was laughter everywhere. People aged 2-92 were on the streets together, enjoying the fun and sending well wishes. This video is from the night before the main celebration kicked off.


This new years reminded me to have a little fun. Let go of some of the seriousness of life and just - have a water fight. I can be a bit uptight about things - so loved this reminder. After all - we're biologically wired to like fun - because it's good for us!


4) ✨✨ Matariki ✨✨

Matariki is Māori New Years. And really the reason for this post because - IT'S MATARIKI! It happens in mid-winter when the star cluster, the Pleiades, is visible. It happened yesterday morning (Friday 14 July, 2023). Matariki as a time of remembrance, joy and peace. It's about deliberate reflection and intentions.


Here's a lovely resource from PlayCentre to help us understand:

Someone in a workshop this week took the group through a 4-part Matariki reflection (current and future looking). We spent 20 minutes individually reflectioning and sharing with a partner. Even that short amount of time was extremely helpful. We hope you find the same:


✨Health: How does your body and mind feel now?

What's one thing that you can do to fill your health bucket this coming year?


✨Kai: What's something new you can learn to cook or grow?

Who can help you eat it?


✨Connection: Who adds to your life? Take a moment of gratitude for them.

In this coming year, how can you be more intentional about your energy and connections?


Ancestors: Who has left us, but had a major positive role in the person you are today? If you could talk to them again, what would you thank them for? How can you honour them in this upcoming year?


Took a moment on Matariki yesterday to reflect individually and connect with loved ones. New year's might be celebrated in many different ways but reflection seems to be a pretty common connector across them all.


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