The ushering in of a new year is welcomed worldwide. Do you continue to practice the traditions that your grandparents performed years ago? Do you have to have new clothes, eat certain foods or have the first person to enter your home be a dark haired male to transition in the New Year? Do you wear red underwear, eat black-eyed peas and stuff your mouth with grapes? Fireworks at midnight appear to be a common thread as a sign of the New Year throughout the world. Here are some interesting New Year’s traditions from around the world that are still carried out today.
In Argentina people gather in the streets immediately before midnight to see fireworks and firecrackers. They welcome in the New Year with champagne or cider. In Brazil the New Year is one of the main holidays welcoming the summer months which lasts until Carnival. People usually drink champagne and dress in white at the beach for good luck. They enjoy fireworks and eat grapes and lentils. In Costa Rica families eat twelve grapes one for each stroke of the clock announcing the midnight hour for twelve wishes for the year. They also run across the street with luggage representing new trips and adventures for the year. Denmark marks the New Year by eating cod, kale and pork finishing with a special dessert, kransekage accompanied by champagne. People gather to see the fireworks and hear the town clock strike midnight. In Estonia some people eat seven, nine or twelve meals on New Year’s Eve. For each meal consumed the person will gain the strength of that many men.
A Finland tradition is to tell the fortune for the New Year. Lead or tin is melted in a pan then quickly thrown in a cold bucket of water. The shadows of the shapes are analyzed with predictions for the future. In Germany a New Year’s custom is to touch a chimney sweep or have him rub some ashes on your forehead for health and luck. Some will consume a marzipan pig for luck. In Hungary some believed that animals could talk on New Year’s Eve and the onion skins sprinkled with salt predicts a rainy month. In Italy red underwear is worn for good luck and traditionally old or unused items were dropped out of the window dispensing of the old and welcoming the new. In Japan people gather around the Zojoji Temple to release helium balloons containing wishes. In Korea people dress in new clothes to usher in new beginnings and gather at the home of the oldest male relative. One New Year’s tradition in Latvia is to bake a cake with a coin wrapped inside whoever gets the coin will have a prosperous year. In Mexico families decorate their homes in colors that represent wishes for the New Year. Red encourages an improvement in life and love, yellow is for improved employment, green for better financial circumstances, and white for enhanced health. In the Netherlands traditional Protestant families may read Psalm 90. Oceania includes Kiritimati the first place in the world to welcome in the New Year because of its location of 144 miles north of the equator. In the Philippines people often wear clothing with circular patterns and bright colors to attract money, good fortune and enthusiasm for the New Year. Circular shaped fruits are served and coins are shaken in a metal can while walking around the house to increase fortune.
In Quebec an elaborate meal is served at midnight called Reveillon. It is marked with an assortment of seafood, hamburger meat pie, turkey and a pie made with six different meats and potatoes. Dessert is a cake made with cream and fruit. In Romania children sing traditional carols to bring goodwill, happiness and success. In Singapore 20,000 inflatable wishing spheres carrying 500,000 wishes are set out on the waterfront on Marina Bay. In Turkey on New Year’s Eve people decorate trees, welcome Santa Claus and exchange small gifts. In the Ukraine New Year’s is celebrated as a pre-celebration for the Greek Orthodox Christmas on January 7th. It is celebrated with a large meal, toasts for good wishes and gifts given to friends. In Venezuela well-wishers wear yellow underwear for happiness, red underwear for love and carry luggage outside if they hope to travel. In
Wales it is important to pay off all debts before the New Year because ending a year in debt means debt in the New Year. In Xinjiang Jan.1 is a paid day off holiday and celebrated with parties. In Yemen New Year’s is celebrated with great pomp, fanfare and decorated in vibrant colors. On the eve of New Year, the citizens of Yemen spend time with their friends and family. Zambia rounds off our New Year’s traditions from A to Z with endless parties, feasting and merriment to welcome in the New Year.
January 1st became the first New Year in 46 B.C. when Julius Caesar established the Julian calendar. Since that time people continue to follow traditions and practices for luck, love, good health, travel and fortune. What are your New Year’s practices and traditions? Have a happy and prosperous New Year!