All over the globe people celebrate New Year with traditions that are special to their country.
In Spain, families celebrate with a festive meal on Nochevieja (New Year’s Eve). Everyone is supposed to eat grapes: 12 each, one per month, before the bells stop striking midnight. The object is to start as the bells begin and finish eating all the 12 grapes before they stop. Apparently, the tradition started because they were trying to figure out what to do with bumper crops of grapes.
In Denmark, crockery, are smashed at front doors on New Year Eve. The breaking of the dishes traditionally brings luck to the friend or loved ones. This might be a great way to get rid of broken dishes. Another favorite tradition is the monarch’s speech. This dates back the a ‘toast to the fatherland’ by Christian IX in the 1880s. Keeping up with technology, are broadcast on radio, and been televised since 1958.
One of Germany’s traditions for Silvester (New Year’s Eve) is to eat Pfannkuchen or Krapen. Another tradition started in 1963 with the New Year’s Eve showing the British Comedy Sketch- Dinner for One. Originally shown in Germany in 1963, this 17 minute sketch is broadcast each year while folks gather around to watch. Other traditions include fireworks, good luck charms, melting lead and church bells.
In Greece, pomegranates often hang by the door through the holiday season and smashed on New Year. Just before midnight, the house lights are turned off and the family exits the home. The Kalo Podariko (first footing) then begins with someone from the family enters the house with the right foot first. The second person to enter is the one to smash the pomegranate with the amount of luck reflected in the number of seeds. More Seeds= More Luck.
The Chinese New Year celebration is 16 days long. It starts on New Year’s Eve with a reunion dinner for the extended family. There’s also gift giving, which includes money given in ‘hong bao’ (red envelopes) to children. The celebrations also include fireworks, cleaning the house, and decorating with lanterns, paint and paper cutting with red being the prominent color.
It is a New Year’s tradition in Panama to construct one or more ‘munecos de ano viejo’ (one year old dolls) to symbolize what should be left behind with the old year. These effigies could be of famous folk, such a politicians, actors, transformers or even minions. They are set outside for everyone to view until they are burnt at midnight on New Year’s Eve. The celebrations continue until Three King’s Day on January 6th.
The New Year celebrations in Brazil honor the Afro-Brazilian goddess Lemanja. West African slaves were not allowed to worship, and merged some traditions with Catholicism, creating Candomble- an African diasporic religion developed during the 19th c. Lemanja, the goddess of the sea, protects the sailors and fishermen. Celebrants not only offer flowers and gifts by throwing them into the sea, but also jump over seven waves to bring strength in the New Year.
Christmas trees were banned in Russia, but a New Year’s tree, or Novogodnaya Yolka, became a holiday symbol in 1935. Ded Moroz- a legendary figure similar to Saint Nicholas and his granddaughter Snegurochka often attend parties and bring presents to children. Another favorite treat is the Olivier Salad, made mainly from mayonnaise, boiled potatoes, carrots, dill pickles, green peas, eggs and boiled chicken.
Throughout Scotland, there are many traditions for New Year’s or Hogmanay celebrations. One tradition is to link arms and sing the words from Robert Burn’s poem: Auld Lang Syne. There are many other festivities which include fire, storytelling and, not surprisingly whisky drinking.
In USA, many watch the New Year’s Eve ball drop just before midnight in New York’s Times Square. The celebrations did include fireworks, but when they banned, the ball was fashioned and made its debut in 1907. Kissing someone at midnight is supposed to banish loneliness for the upcoming year. Many also drink champagne to herald the New Year.
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