Happy Lunar New Year!

Sua sdei jo chhnam chin, 新年快乐, and happy lunar new year!

In Cambodia, the big new year’s celebration is not on January 1st (“international new year” in Khmer), nor is it the same as the Vietnamese, Korean, and Chinese lunar calendar (“Chinese new year”). Rather, it’s in April…which means I’m going to miss it! And it’s also a lunar calendar (shared with Thailand and I think Laos as well), so saying “lunar new year” is no longer specific enough.

Okay, to be fair I’ve known for a long time that the Muslim calendar is also lunar. So forget it; I’m going to keep saying “lunar new year” because being 100% politically correct is impossible.

…not to mention silly when this yearly tradition involves posting a Japanese new year’s card (nengajō), even though Japan now uses the European/international calendar, though they still follow the twelve-year animal cycle…

And this year was particularly interesting because it’s the Year of the Dragon. Everyone knows that a Chinese dragon is pretty different from a Western dragon, but a Khmer dragon is actually what we usually translate as “naga” (neak in Khmer). Hence this card:

And as a bonus, here’s the envelope I sent it in. (Please don’t try to send anything to me now; it will get here pretty much the same week I have to go home.)

One last story: we went out yesterday for my host brother’s birthday, and in the shopping center there was a tree covered in red envelopes. And for me, having grown up in the Bay Area…it felt like a little bit of home.