Nothing like a new year's scene

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 January, 2012, 12:00am


I have just spent my fifth New Year's Eve in New York, but this time I wasn't brave enough to venture into Times Square to fight the mob and watch Mayor Michael Bloomberg snog Lady Gaga.

A million people in Times Square, a million in the New York nightclubs. If New Year's Eve is all about excess, then January 1 is about atonement. It's time to take action, to make a change. Apparently, this tradition dates back to the Babylonian era, when people believed the first day of the year should be spent reflecting on past mistakes and resolving to improve yourself during the year ahead.

The most popular resolutions are to make more money, drink less, give up smoking and lose weight. To see how seriously some New Yorkers initially take their resolutions, set foot in a gym on January 1 - it'll be as packed as those nightclubs the night before. Of course, come back in March and the numbers will be back to normal.

But in Chinese culture, during our new-year period, we don't think about ourselves so much. Rather, it's all about celebrating with our family - immediate and distant (which is why it takes 10 days to do it). And instead of worrying about our weight or financial situation, we wish our family - as well as friends and colleagues - good health, prosperity, success, peace and happiness in the coming year.

New York is one of the best cities in which to celebrate the holiday season. There's the giant Christmas tree in the Rockefeller Centre, the famous window displays on Fifth Avenue, the chance to see Santa at Macy's and, of course, the 'ball drop' at Times Square, the 'crossroads of the world'.

But I know that come Lunar New Year, Hong Kong is where I will want to be. I'll be missing the fireworks display to welcome the Year of the Dragon, as well as the traditional meal with family and friends. I'll be sad at not being able to wish my relatives a healthy and happy year. Plus it'd be nice to take a break from obsessing about myself and my new year's resolutions, and send others a good wish or two.