“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
- Rumi, Persian poet, Islamic theologian and scholar, 1207-73
Happy New Year again to those who are still or shall begin celebrating it! Yes, the 15-day Lunar New Year, a.k.a. Spring Festival, is not over yet. Moreover, according to the ancient Chinese astrology calendar, the Water Rabbit year only starts on Li Chun (立春), i.e. 4th of February. And some, such as those in Mongolia and Bhutan, will celebrate Tsangaan Sar and Chunyipai Losa (Bhutan) on the 21st of February. If like me, you are keen to learn about the nomadic steppe culture in Mongolia, I hope you can get a glimpse of nature’s beauty and the simple life in the “ger” through this clip. https://www.youtube.com/watch?
Besides it being the 15th and the final day of the Chinese Lunar New Year (Yuánxiāo jié 元宵节), this year, there are numerous celebrations on the 5th, e.g. Thaipusam (Hindus), Guru Ravidan Jayanti (Sikhs) and Imam Ali’s Birthday (Muslims). On the 11th, the Japanese will celebrate National Foundation Day, a festival rooted in its mythical legendary Emperor Jimmu’s accession to the throne (660 BCE). And many people worldwide will send Valentine’s cards and have celebratory meals on the 14th, though not all know it is a feast day set by Pope Gelasius in 498 CE, i.e. Valentine’s Day has been going on for more than 1,500 years!
As we get to the end of the month, some Christian countries will hold carnivals and large feasts. Mardi Gras or Fat/Shrove Tuesday (21st) are fun times before devote Christians enter the 40-day lent period, during which they abstain from eating meat, eggs or milk as they spiritually reflect and prepare for Easter.
So much in this shortest month! We now have approximately 334 days or 16,016 “30 mins” blocks left in the year clock. Time is precious; let’s connect with people, do what we care about, and enjoy every minute of 2023!
A Journey A Month…
Your Story. Our Story. The Human Story.
Since the beginning of time, the process or action of moving has always been part of life. The largest human migration is known to take place around this time. With modern transportation, millions journey home to celebrate the Lunar New Year with families. As for more permanent migration, in 2018, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) noted that around 3.4% of the global population, i.e., 238 million people, live outside their country of birth.
I am part of this statistic, five countries across three continents. A Chinese astrologer once said I have the “heavenly horse” star in my life’s chart; if astrology is a science, it certainly explains my travel streak of ~40 countries and 120+ cities. Younger, I used to take pride in my globe-trotting and road-warrior lifestyle, imagining I was following in the footsteps of my Nat-Geo heroes. Later, I realised quite some of my friends have as many, if not more stamps on their passports.
We (humans) are not the first nor the only great travellers on this planet. Do you know that many foods we enjoy today have travelled far? One example is the tomato, a South American native thought poisonous when it first arrived in Europe. Hard to believe, isn’t it, considering tomato is now an essential ingredient in Italian cuisine? To discover more, you can find some interesting food journeys on our Youtube playlist here: Exploring Global Foods (Social Knowledge)
In addition, here are some Cultural fun-facts quizzes on Japan:
Q1. Where can you find the largest Japanese community outside Japan? The largest Japanese community outside Japan is in Brazil, numbering about 2 million, followed by about 1.5 million in the United States. (source: Wikipedia.)
Q2. Why is “Kit-Kat” so popular in Japan? The name of this chocolate snack sounds closely to Kitto Katsu (きっと勝つ). In Japanese, it means “sure to win.” Today, students often take Kit Kats before sitting for their exams. One can find many limited editions of seasonal and regional flavours of Kit Kat chocolate bars in Japan. (source: Bokksu.)
Q3. Who introduced Salmon sushi to the Japanese? Salmon was not used in traditional Edomae-style sushi because of its propensity to parasite infection. It was not until the ’70s, when Norway successfully raised parasite-free salmon through aquaculture farming, that people felt safe to consume raw salmon. Due to its small domestic market, the Norwegians had to export their salmons. In the ’80s, they created the concept of salmon sushi and ran promotional campaigns in Japan. Today, salmon sushi is one of the favourite sushi types around the world. Isn’t that a wonderful cross-cultural story? (source: Norway Exports.)
Please click the Youtube link for more (clip credit: Office holidays): Fun facts about Japan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
To end, let me share one of my favourite passages from Kipling’s poem “The Explorer”:
“Something hidden. Go and find it. Go and look behind the Ranges…Something lost behind the Ranges. Lost and waiting for you. Go!”
Life is a journey, have fun exploring!
The world is fascinating simply because differences exist!
Join us to spread the words, share the vision, and do our parts.
At TransCultural Group (TCG), we are determined to play our part in making the world a better place. We have launched an e-book for Youth. We have also uploaded the complete series of “Food around the World” on our YouTube channel.
Please share it If you love our effort, and please give us a “like” and subscribe to our “YouTube” channel (it is free!) Come support us!
Crossing Cultures – Beyond Boundaries
Keng Keng Tan
Founder & CEO