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Wondering about the amazing New Year traditions around the world?
Continuing a season-long of celebrations and festivities, we are in this time wherein our customs from our homelands are evident in our households. I, for one, will be unapologetically seen donning a polka-dotted sweater, with pennies in my pocket and twelve fruits on my basket. Maybe a dash of change or two to accommodate the other customs I embraced over the years… Regardless, New Year traditions around the world may differ in many ways but it all boils down to the desire of having a joy-filled year ahead.
Here are the list of the amazing New Year traditions around the world:
1. United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, especially in Scotland, there is a three-day New Year celebration called Hogmanay. It makes Christmas celebration seems small with its grandiose activities that include the famous torchlight procession, a massive street party and festive musical entertainment.
The main highlight of this New Year celebration would have to be the fireball tradition. Before the clock strikes twelve, performers swing these fireballs round and round before eventually tossing them out to sea. This long-running tradition is said to cleanse people of bad spirits.
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New Year’s Eve activities in the Philippines is arguably a mix of many New Year traditions around the world. In many of its New Year traditions, circles are evident. The round shape is believed to bring in money and financial prosperity in your life.
In every household, you shall see a basket full of round fruits – twelve varieties to be exact – on display. Following the round theme is the wearing of clothes with polka dots on them. Aside from that, Filipinos also scatter coins all over the house. No one is allowed to sweep these coins (at least days after the celebration.)
Come midnight, children are woken up by the adults so they can jump to the countdown. Their pockets are filled with coins so they create some jingling noises when they jump. Failing to jump at twelve midnight will not make them any taller, they say.
During Silvester, is it customary to eat krapfen. It is kind of a doughnut (but it is not) with chocolate or jam filling inside. This is one of the New Year customs which has a socio-historic background.
Back in the days, Germans can only eat krapfen on special occasions because eating sweets and desserts were only for the well-off. As New Year was a particularly special time, families saw to it that this treat was present in their tables.
4. United States and Canada
It is probably one of the most popular New Year traditions around the world, you have seen it in movies, in shows, and in literary works. Before midnight comes, people scramble to look for a partner to share a midnight kiss with. It can be your family, your loved one, or someone who has yet to know your feelings.
New Year in the United States and Canada are romantic at that. This tradition is said to have come from the Medieval ages where it is believed that the first person you see when the clock strikes twelve is a huge indicator of how your year would turn out to be.
Others said it might have come from the Romans’ kissing tradition when it was the feast of Saturnalia, a celebration happening during winter time.
A feast is indeed a feast in Estonia. As part of their New Year customs, people are encouraged to eat at least seven, nine or twelve times during the day. The numbers have significance in their communities.
If you eat seven times during New Year, you are believed to have gained the strength of seven men – enough to last for the whole twelve months. Aside from this, the tradition also portrays abundance, something everyone wishes for the year to come.
This tradition stems from the time when Estonia experienced famine. After the hardship, people adopted this custom in order to seal a prosperous fate in the months to come. Nowadays, you don’t have to count how many times you eat anymore. The tradition has been modernized to seven-course plates offered by restaurants.
I don’t know how they do it, but apparently everyone does! Imagine putting twelve grapes in your mouth when the New Year hits. This is one of the New Year’s Day traditions that are done in Spain.
Twelve grapes signify the twelve months that is to come. Eating these grapes on the first twelve seconds of the year will give you good luck. When you fail to do so, bad luck is said to hunt you down.
The idea is funny to see, honestly, and over the years it has turned out to become a challenge – to get on with the tradition without choking out of laughter or out of trying – or both!
Don your best new white attire when coming to celebrate the New Year in Brazil. Their ode to Iemanja is the main reason for this custom, as the Deity of the Seas calls for white offerings during New Year’s Eve. This belief is rooted in African culture which Brazil has taken in as its own as well.
Brazilians believe that when the waters wash back your white flowers and candles, Iemanja is not accepting your gift. If she does so, your household will be filled with prosperity.
Taking the tradition a little further, people are now putting on specific colors of underwear under their white attires. Whichever color you choose signifies the wish you would like to receive for the year to come. Green, for example, is for health while pink is for love.
One of the most awaited New Year traditions around the world, although celebrated in February in China, means painting your doors red or at least hanging red items on the facade of your homes. This is said to bring in good luck to your household all year round.
Chinese also give money as gifts as part of their New Year customs. They are placed in red envelopes and are handed out to people, passing on prosperity and good luck to the receivers.
Why red – this is considered as the most favorable color in Chinese traditions. That is the reason why, in many of their celebrations, you can see the color red being incorporated. Not only does it bring in good luck but it is also believed to ward off bad spirits.
You’ll hear a lot of noise in Denmark come New Year, and it is not even because of the fireworks. All throughout the past year, people keep hold of their chipped plateware and make good use of them when New Year celebration comes.
As part of their New Year’s Eve traditions, people smash their unused or old china because they believe that broken plates bring in good luck. These dinnerwares are thrown to their neighbors’ and friends’ doors.
The next day, people shall check how much smashed plates their front porches have received. This, they believe, is the measure of good luck that they will receive for the year. It pays to be popular to your neighbors in Denmark!
Part of the New Year’s Eve activities in Japan is the ringing of temple bells. This customary practice is called Joya no Kane and is an integral part of their cleansing ritual. Temple bells all around the country are sounded 108 times as a way of welcoming the New Year that is to come.
What’s with the number, you might ask? 108 is said to be the 108 worldly desires and negative emotions that are present in our lives. This belief is deeply rooted in Buddhism. Ringing the bell this much indicates that your year will be worry-free, as all these desires have been rung away towards the beginning of the year.
Each year, the Zojoji temple welcomes many tourists who are keen to see this tradition being done.
11. Czech Republic
On New Year’s Eve in Czech Republic, they say you can see through the future by using an apple. This is definitely one of the most unusual New Year customs out there.
Once you cut the apple in half, the middle part shall determine your fate for the year to come. The core of the apple can either be a star or a cross. A star means that your year would be filled with happiness. If a cross comes out instead, expect some mischief to happen.
Go to Greece for your New Year celebration and you just might be surprised to see onions dangling from the front doors and windows of every household. This is one of the New Year’s Day traditions which the Greeks believe to have a good effect in their lives throughout the year.
Onions for them symbolize growth, rebirth, prosperity and good luck. Therefore, by hanging them in vines, they are hoping that these positive values will be rubbed off on their lives.
Wherever you are in the world, New Year celebration is indeed one of the highlights of the year. It gives us the sense of new hope and beginning.