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Finding Home for the Holidays: Where will you Ring in the New Year?

Finding Home for the Holidays: Where will you Ring in the New Year?

In a few days, fireworks will light the sky and party blowers will sound in the western world- Welcome to 2011!

Even travel sites are abuzz with Top 10 lists of  Hot New Years Eve Destinations (aren’t fireworks sorta the same anywhere you go?). Meanwhile a week ago, my travel clock was ticking and my small life abroad in Korea was in a conundrum over inflating costs of holiday travel and the global list of options. Panic. Oh my God.

Where to be on New Years Eve?


Where will you ring in the new year: A hidden symbolism behind every decision

Maybe it’s an Asian thing, but I was raised with certain symbolic Japanese beliefs around the awakening of the new year. For instance: “Always enter the new year with a clean house…. have a male guest enter your house first if you’re giving a party… eat mochi for longevity and health.”  Everything held a symbolic code of meanings. How you entered the year was a reflection of how you’d live it and it would play out. No one wants to start with a curse to their fortune, a bad symbol, a horrible feeling.

There are many fun ways to spend your New Year’s Eve. You can spend it in a crowd counting down seconds to see the ball drop in New York’s Times Square. You can don a cocktail dress and dance the night away with friends at a nightclub. Spending it in meditation at a remote Buddhist temple in Thailand sounds cool, as does ripping off fireworks on a beach in Hawaii (just be sure the police don’t catch you without a permit). You can spend it in an intimate gathering of house parties… or alone in candlelight meditation. But if you’re me, you’re paranoid about it holding the right intention… the right juu-juu.


Living Abroad and Being Home-less for the Holidays

Until now, it’s been my tradition to spend the Christmas and New Year’s season with family in either, Hawaii or the ‘home’ Hawaii folk really love… Las Vegas!

Being inHawaii  is to indulge in the Japanese tradition of mochi culture and to watch the entire island play fireworks like it’s on on crack.  Meanwhile, Las Vegas is always a monstrous party, complete with coin-cheering slot machines, exciting performance shows, free casino drinks, party hats and noisemakers!

But for me, my home for the holidays was never about a destination.

” ‘Home’ was with whom I spent my New Year’s with… my family.”

Living abroad in Korea, it struck me that for the first time in my life, I might have to spend my one celebrated holiday  –gasp!– on my own!

Holiday decorations at a mall in Seoul.

I placed a frantic Skype call to my fave travel friend, Regina On Top of the World for destination recommendations. I was readying my travel shoes for an escape.

Hong Kong, Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia…?

 I’ve always spent my Thanksgiving holidays alone, but this was bambucha of holidays and as far as I was concerned, the only one that mattered.   If I couldn’t spend at least my New Year’s Eve with family, then I was looking to substitute my feelings of “homelessness”  through a destination, which might make me forget my  loneliness. Yup, I needed a consolation to prepare me for the onslaught of pain.

Drumrolls, please!  I’ll be spending my New Year’s Eve in…

Ironically, even if you live in a city or country that your friends think is enviable, you’ll inevitably get into the funk of looking outside for something more exotic.

Sure, I was trying to run away from my loneliness, but why in the world was I trying to run away from Korea?  Korea has been my home abroad for a year. What was so wrong with celebrating my New Year’s Eve in it?

I’ve decided to ring in the new year in Seoul.

As for who I’d celebrate with, this came as a last-minute shocker.  My mother surprised me by flying up to Seoul on Christmas Eve, so I wouldn’t be without family!  Awww… I’m planning to take her to Jeju Island  on New Year’s day.

Okay, so I wasn’t homeless for the holidays. I had a home.

Two, in fact.

My mom and I celebrating Christmas and New Year’s in Seoul (and then Jeju Island)


Have you ever spent the holidays abroad? How and where will you ring in the New Year?  Do your choices on New Year’s Eve/Day hold symbolic meaning for you?



  1. Gray says:

    Aww, you have a great mom! I hope you both had a wonderful New Year’s celebration together.

  2. Papa says:

    Your Mom sure looks like my Mom.

  3. Great post! That’s so great that your mother is with you =) We’re on the road, so we’ve chosen Waiheke Island for New Years Eve day and night. We’ll see some wineries and spend the evening listening to live music. Happy New Year to you!

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