Understanding other people’s languages, cultures, etiquette and taboos is of great value to the traveler or others who are interested in cultures. Different rules evolved because in different countries there are different habits, different ways of life. Countries have different histories, they developed differently even in New Year celebrations.
If you do a little research you will come to know that New Year is celebrated with equal enthusiasm everywhere. However there is a little bit differences of New Year celebrations between the western or the eastern part of the world, as the year in the calendar marks a transition, the various customs and traditions followed during the period remain as it is. While each culture’s New Year celebration has its own flavor, there are certain common themes. The period leading up to New Year’s Day is a time for setting things straight: a thorough housecleaning, paying off debts, returning borrowed objects, reflecting on one’s shortcomings, mending quarrels, giving alms. In many cultures, people jump into the sea or a local body of water-literally washing the slate clean.
In many countries, New Year’s celebrations begin on the evening of December 31st New Year’s Even and continue into the early hours of January 1st. People often enjoy meals and snacks thought to bestow good luck for the coming year. In many parts of the world, traditional New Year’s dishes feature legumes, which are thought to resemble coins and herald future financial success.
Other customs that are common worldwide include watching fireworks and singing songs to welcome the new year. The practice of making resolutions for the new year is thought to have first caught on among the ancient Babylonians, who made promises in order to earn the favor of the gods and start the year off on the right foot. Therefore, in this article, we will provide you some information about how different countries celebrate their New Year in different ways.
New Year in The United States of America
Americans celebrate the onset of the New Year every January 1st in style with gala celebrations and parties. Free flow of exquisite Wine and abundance of gourmet food symbolize hope for prosperity and abundance in the New Year. Uncorking champagne, gorging on cakes, and feasting on black-eyed beans are considered lucky and festive. The best in fashion is what party-goers opt for in New Year Eve parties. Honking vehicles, paper blowers, noisy whistles, music, impulsive kisses are all part of the fun and gaiety. They believe kissing during midnight as the year approaches, is an auspicious gesture that purifies everything that is evil. Everything you do on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day is freighted with significance for the future. The American custom of spending the night with the one you love and kissing them at midnight insures that the relationship will flourish during the coming year.
Football tournament is telecast all across the country, and many Americans prefer to enjoy a relaxed New Years Eve watching the game with friends and family – a tradition continuing since 1916. The most celebrated event is perhaps the “ball drop” in Times Square, New York. Since 1907, every New Year’s Eve a specially designed ball is dropped at 1159pm EST amidst cheers of millions of spectators. The fun is further enhanced by in-numerous parties alongside, some even hosted by celebrities.
The capital city of Washington DC adheres to more traditional celebrations. Open House parties have been huge hit since its introduction by George Washington. Firecrackers are burnt to symbolize warding off evil and negativity.
New Year celebrated in The United Kingdom
United Kingdom welcomes the New Year in accordance with the Gregorian calendar with loud cheer, warmth of family and friends, feasting and drinking. In London, a huge crowd gathers along the Thames to enjoy the fireworks from the London Eye as the Big Ben strikes twelve officially marking the onset of a New Year. Thousands of people also assemble to party and make merry with bon-fires at Trafalgar Square and the Piccadilly Circus. Voices in unison honor the “days gone by” by singing “Auld Lang Syne”.
Another traditional custom is “First Footing”. For this, a tall, handsome dark male has to be the first visitor of a household after midnight. As a custom, he has to carry with him, a loaf of bread, a bottle of whiskey, some coal and salt. He is expected to put the coal in the fire and serve the bread and the drink to the family and wish them Happy New Year. He makes entry from the front door, and after the ritual, he has to exit from the backdoor. He is considered to bring good luck and prosperity to the household.
Throughout Britain, the New Year is often launched with a party – either at home with family and friends or at a gathering in local pubs and clubs. Festivities begin on New Year’s Eve and build up to midnight. The stroke of midnight is the cue for much cheering and the drinking of toasts.
Chinese New Year celebration
Traditionally, the Chinese follow the Lunar Calendar. According to it, their New Year, known as “Yuan Tan” may occur any day between mid-January and mid-February.
Chinese New Year celebrations are colorful and noisy – red dominates the show, while beating of drums and cymbals are believed to drive away the evil. Lion Dance and feasting take care of the entertainment. Hundreds of lanterns are lit to welcome home the positive vibes. Friends and relatives visit each other. Gift of red envelope containing money (Lai See) is exchanged as a symbol of good luck.
2013 Chinese New Year will be celebrated on Saturday, 10th February 2013. The New Year is celebrated with immense joy and hope every year. The beginning of the year is marked with prosperity, love and peace. There are different kinds of celebration at various places. The celebration is marked with Snake dance, songs, street performances and road shows. The twelve animals represent each year and they are repeated after every twelve year. So, 2013, the year of Snake will return after twelve years. The Chinese Snake is inspiring for the society and is expected to bring loads of good luck in 2013. Hence, 2013 Chinese New Year will bring a lot of peace and prosperity in the community. The Chinese community uses the lunar calendar unlike other communities. Hence their celebration for the New Year falls in the late January.
New Year celebration in Japan
On the New Years’ Eve Japanese welcome the New Year God Toshigami. Then cleaning of the house is followed after worship. At midnight the Buddhist temple rings the bell 108 times at midnight to welcome the New Year. This event is popularly known as Joya No Kane. There are 108 elements in a human mind. The bell is rung 108 times to pay tribute to the elements.
Traditional celebrations include visiting temples to pray for the departed and for good harvest. Temple bells are rung 108 times to scare off the evil. Another ritual with the same purpose is to start laughing as the clock is about the strike midnight. Decorative rice cakes called Mochis are made. Japanese homes hand straw ropes at the entrance to bring in good luck. Paper lobsters adorn homes signifying endurance, while green plants and bamboo symbolize new life and honesty. Envelopes with money are handed to children by elders.
New Year celebrated in France
New Year in France is known as “Jour des trennes”, “and le Jour de I’An”, and the celebrations are referred to as “Reveillion”. It is one of the oldest festivals of France, and is therefore an official public holiday. It is believed that feasting will bring about prosperity. As such, a special feast, called as “le Rveillon de Saint-Sylvestre” is planned. Families meet and greet, champagnes are uncorked, huge pompous parties are organized, as the country welcomes the New Year with food, fun, drinks, fireworks and lighting.
New Year celebration in Denmark
People in Denmark believe that if they stand on a chair and jump from it as the clock strikes twelve to welcome New Year, it would bring them luck. Another tradition is to collect dishes all the year around and throw them at the front door on the New Year’s Eve – the more the broken plates, the more friends one shall have in the New Year. This symbolizes friendship and brotherhood and they believe the one with maximum dishes outside, has the most friends. Some Danish are found to leap some chairs during midnight.
Greece’s New Year
They call the New Year eve a St. Basil’s Day, one of the forefathers of the Greeks Church, because it is also celebrated as his death anniversary. They bake some special bread, where a coin is buried inside the dough. The procedure of serving the bread is very unique. They offer the first slice to God, second to the bread winner of the house, and the third is meant for the house. If this one contains the coin, spring will hit early that year. Also whoever get the slice with the coin, is supposed to be blessed with extra good luck. Greek families get together to bake a special bread for the New Year. They hide a coin in the dough. The coin is believed to bring good luck.
Spanish New Year celebration
In Spain, as the midnight strikes, it is customary to quickly eat twelve grapes, one at each strike of the clock. These are supposed to bring good luck – one grape for each of the twelve months of the New Year. This they believe will bring good luck and happiness for the coming 12 months. In cities, people gather in the main squares and observe this custom together. Drinking and dancing all through the night is a typical form of Spanish celebration.
New Year in Korea
Korean New Year is the most important festival in Korea. It is a family oriented holiday. Korean New Year is also commonly known as Seollal. If you follow the traditional, it is noticed that Korean New Year shares the same day of new Year in China, Vietnam, Mongol, and Tibet. The first day of celebrations is restricted within the family. All the family members unite and gather for New Year dinner. During the New Year eve, the Korean people keep rakes and straw scooper at the entrance or on the wall. They believe that these articles will save their family from any evil force.
All the people in Korea wear colorful and new dresses on the New Years day. Everyone gather at his or her respective house to greet the eldest family member. In Korea, there is a popular tradition of ancestral memorial rites, where the young members in the family bow to the elderly members. The elders pray for the good health and opulence for the young members and also present money to the younger members as a good luck charm.
The traditional New Year meal include ttokkuk, a must-have dish, which is made of rice cake. According to the Korean New Year traditions, this soup can add extra age to a human being’s lifespan.
How the Philippines celebrates New Year?
Filipino families believe that round objects are auspicious and symbolizing coins that would bring them luck and prosperity in the New Year. So they consume grapes, have coins, wear polkas dotted dresses, as they have faith that circular things attract more fortune and money. They heap their tables with round fruits and eat exactly twelve of them at twelve midnight. Some also wear polka dots for the occasion. They also throw coins as New Year begins to increase wealth and prosperity. Traditionally it is believed that a New Year should be started with a full wallet to be prosperous all round the coming year.
Brazil’s New Year
Brazilians believe that lentils signify wealth and prosperity. So they serve food items made up of the legume like soup or rice on the New Year. Even the color of underwear Brazilians wear on the first day of the new year has meaning. Pink brings love, yellow, prosperity; and white, peace and happiness. On New Year’s Eve, the priestesses dress up in blue and white for an auspicious ceremony celebrated for the water goddess. Also a sacrificial boat filled with jewelery, candles and flowers from the beach of Rio de Janeiro is pushed to the ocean that brings health, wealth and happiness for them. In Rio de Janeiro, more than a million people gather on the beaches on December 31st to honor Yemanja, the Yoruban “Mother of the Sea,” who brings good fortune.
Apart from hosting some of the best beach-style parties, New Year in Brazil is welcomed with some traditional rituals. The New Year in Brazil coincides with the feast of Lemenja, the African Goddess of the Sea. On New Year’s Eve, the Copa Cabana beach in Rio de Janeiro is lit up with candles. Huge crowd gathers in the bridge and people throw offerings into the sea.
Australian New Year Celebration
Australia celebrated New Year with parties, lighting, fireworks and feasting. Sydney Harbor is famed for hosting such celebrations. Loud, noisy, colorful and merry are what would describe Australian New Year celebrations.
New Year (Tet) in Vietnam
Tet and also know by the name of Nguyen Dan in Vietnamese language, its celebrations lasts for about 7 days. People start cleaning and decorating their homes with a belief that by doing so they would be getting rid of bad fortune and bad memories, which were associated with the previous year.
The Vietnamese people who are in mourning are avoided on this particular day, as they are associated with death. Children are told not fight or even cry on Vietnamese New Year’s Day and the homes are adorned with Hoa Mai, which is a yellow blossom that represents the season of spring and happiness. The Vietnamese people are of the belief that the first person to go through the door on the Vietnamese New Year will replicate the family’s future luck and wealth.
The people also make it a point to visit local temples on this day in order to pray for God’s blessings for prosperity and good health. The Vietnamese families are known to plant a New Year’s tree in front of their homes by the name of Cay Neu at the time of Vietnamese New Year. The Cay Neu is taken down on the seventh and the last day of Tet.
The Vietnamese New Year cuisine includes a special rice pudding, which needs to be prepared beforehand. The rice pudding is given the name of banh chung or banh tet. The main ingredients of this pudding are mung beans and pork. Some other famous New Year foods are preserved sweets, beef, chicken, fish, oranges, coconuts, grapefruits and other seasonal fruits, especially watermelon.
Puerto Rico’s New Year Celebration
People throw buckets of water out of their window and also clean their homes properly. This they believe will clean the odds of the last year as well as get the spirits out of the home.
The Netherlands’ New Year Celebration
Bonfires are burnt of the Christmas trees on the New Year eve, on streets, by the Dutch. This purges out the old and greets the new.
New Year Celebration in Chile
People go for mass in the New Year apart from visiting graveyards. They make seating arrangements there and wait for New Year to come, along with the dead bodies.
Roman Celebration in New Year
The celebrations last for three days where the Romans decorate their houses with greenery and colorful lights, they choose gifts for their loved ones very carefully like Gold, silver, for prosperity, honey for sweetness etc.
How New Year Celebrated in Italy?
In some towns in Italy, I’ve been told, you have to watch out for falling objects, as people shove their old sofas, chairs and even refrigerators out of their windows on New Year’s Eve. In Ecuador, people make dummies, stuffed with straw, to represent the events of the past year. These “ano viejo” effigies are burned at midnight, thus symbolically getting rid of the past.
Wales’s New Year Celebration
In Wales, during midnight, at the initial toll, the back door of the house is first opened and then immediately shut. This symbolizes releasing the old year and locking out all the bad luck it brought. At the 12th toll of the clock, the door is re-opened to welcome the New Year will all its goodness, luck and prosperity.
New Year Celebration in Austria
Austrians find good luck charm in Suckling pigs. They serve it on the dinner table with edible pigs and the peppermint ice creams are served as desserts for fortune.
How German Celebrates the New Year?
The Germans drop molten lead into cold water to see what shape it takes, and predict the future, each shape symbolizing an aspect of life – love, prosperity etc. Heart shapes symbolize marriage whereas round shapes denote good luck; anchor shapes tell that you need help however a cross signifies someone’s sad demise. Families get together for meals at midnight with some bits left behind as good omen ensuring abundance in the coming year.
Belgium New Year Celebration
They call the New Year eve as Saint Sylvester Eve. They believe in throwing family parties, where everyone kisses, exchanges fortune greetings apart from raises toast to welcome the New Year in their own manner. Children usually save money to buy decorative so that they can write and gift New Year greetings to elders.
Egypt’s New Year Celebration
Egyptians believe that the New Year begins only when the new crescent moon is visible in the sky. They create and extremely festive atmosphere all around and celebrate the New Year with happiness and joy. The official announcement is made in the city of Cairo in a holy mosque, and the religious leaders do the needful.
New Year Celebration in Scotland
In Scotland, New Year is called Hogmonay. Traditional celebrations include barrels of tar to be set alight and rolled through the streets. They believe that this way the old year is burned up and the new one is allowed to enter.
In conclusion, it is very interesting to find out and know about each country’s culture and belief, isn’t it? It is perhaps safe to conclude that New Year Celebrations are the most diverse of all the celebrations across the globe. We hope you will satisfy with these above countries’ culture and tradition which we have just provided above. Wish all of you have a happy and rich New Year.