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Weekly Prompt: Rituals for the Turning of the Year

2010 February 12

This year’s Year of the Tiger begins on Sunday, Feb. 14th (according to the Gregorian calendar).

Orchids for the turning of the year.

For most people, the approach of the New Year (whether according to the Gregorian or Lunar calendar) signals a time to reflect upon our habits and to make lifestyle changes in order to have a “fresh start” in the coming year.  The traditions surrounding New Year’s celebrations are filled with rituals celebrating transition and fresh hope, and also with traditions that remind us of our roots — our connections to family and beloved friends.  Whether toasting to Auld Lang Syne or visiting our elders to exchange New Year’s greetings and receive gifts, our traditions engage us in a rhythm of return and renewal — each year, we come home or look back at what’s familiar and beloved in order to move forward again.  Lunar New Year rituals, in particular, are rich with symbolic resonance.  Cleaning out the house, donning new clothes, consuming foods which are meant to stand in for one’s hopes for the year, celebrating with firecrackers and tree blossoms — these are actions which can remind us of the fleeting nature of what’s past, but which also evoke a sense of hope for the new experiences we anticipate in the coming season.  It’s with these things in mind that we give you this week’s prompt

Prompt: Write a poem about a personal or familial ritual for the turning of the year.

If you need help getting started, here are a couple of links to some beautiful New Year’s poems from the Poetry Foundation’s archive:

Burning the Old Year” by Naomi Shihab Nye

New Year” by Bei Dao (trans. David Hinton and Yanbing Chen).

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Happy Lunar New Year!

- The Editors

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