Happy New Year? Many cultures would rather wait

In this ethnically diverse city, &to=http://english.pravda.ru/fun/2002/12/20/41092.html' target=_blank>"Happy New Year" isn't just a Jan. 1 greeting chanted by the thousands of revelers in Times Square.

Late January, March _ even September and October _ a panoply of cultures almost create a never-ending new year. That's why as workers in Times Square hurry to attach crystal pieces to the giant ball that will drop as 2005 winds down Saturday, Chinatown has another month to prepare for its year-end celebration.

Staff members at the Museum of Chinese in the Americas were getting everything in order for the third annual flower market, an event that draws tens of thousands of people to buy the blooms that are considered auspicious decorations to welcome in the Chinese Lunar New Year _ year 4703 under the most widely used calendar.

That new year is more about holding on to customs and spending time with family and friends than it is about a raucous party, said William Dao, one of the staffers.

"It's not just to keep track of time, but it's something to keep track of your past," he said.

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