New Year is a time to rejoice and each country follows different and very interesting traditions in their own styles. Some may be weird. Yet, some are cultural traditions brought down through generations. One of the first country's to celebrate New Year are the island nations of Kiribati and Samoa.
Cultural Traditions and New Year Celebrations:
Australia: On New Year's Eve, the Australian cities have events like parades, entertainment and music. New Year Eve balls are famous and have various themes like - black-tie and formal wear, masquerade, tropical or gangster and glamour. Many celebrate the New Year on urban parklands, beaches and boat cruises. Others host special home parties and barbecues. The Sydney Harbour is Australia's iconic landmark and a special symbol of celebrating New Year's Eve.
AdvertisementThe Chinese believe in driving away evil with fireworks. Belief holds that the one who launches the first fireworks in the New Year will find good luck. They start with fireworks right after 12 pm of New Year's Eve.
The dinner on New Year's Eve is most important for the Chinese. It is usually a family reunion and mostly fish is served. In Northern China, dumplings are regarded as the most important dish. Both dishes signify prosperity. After New Year's Eve dinner, the entire family stays awake the whole night to welcome a new day and the New Year.
According to legends and tales, the Chinese believed in the existence of a beast named "Year" which is afraid of loud sounds, red colour and fire. Hence, they launched fireworks on the eve of New Year. The Chinese homes are cleaned and decorated using red lanterns and the most widespread decorations include year paint, paper cutting, door god and many more.
In Japan, New Year is called Shōgatsu and includes traditions from Buddhism, Shinto and popular culture. The Japanese decorate their home doors with a New Year's wreath made from rice straw and lucky talismans. Their New Year food tradition includes Mochi that is made from cooked rice or mochiko.
Year's End Party - Bonenkai is celebrated either in a tatami mat room or a western style restaurant. Traditional Japanese foods - red fish soup, soba, sashimi, fugu, tempura, fish eggs and rice are served.
Special New Year cards Nengyō decorated with Chinese zodiac animals of the New Year are sent over to friends. Gifts of appreciation otoshidama are given to children during the New Year's calling. Usually about 5000 yen is given in a decorated envelope. Eating Toshikoshi Soba is considered symbolic, as long noodles are a symbol of long life.
United Kingdom follows certain traditional practices on New Year's Day. At the strike of midnight, the back door of each house is opened to let out the old year and the first dark haired man is seen coming in through the front door carrying coal, salt and bread. This is a symbol that the family will have enough food (bread), money (salt) and warmth (coal) in the coming year.
Scotland celebrates the New Year - "Hogmanay" - better than anywhere else. Edinburgh hosts an enormous party from the Prince's Street to the Royal Mile and the Edinburgh Castle. First Footing is observed in all the residence and belief goes that the first person who sets foot influences everyone's fortune.
In Wales, the people believe in clearing debts before the New Year begins. Children wake up early, visit their neighbours and sing songs. They get mince pies, apples, sweets and coins for singing.
Strangest New Year Traditions:
Some regions of the world have weird New Year traditions. They include some strange New Year costumes as well.
In the Philippines, it is believed that wearing polka dots and eating round fruits ensures a prosperous year. People of Spain believe that wolfing down a handful of grapes when the clock strikes 12 promises a successful year. In Scotland village men parade swinging some blazing giant fireballs over their heads. In Panama, popular celebrity and political personality effigies are burned on the bonfire. The Danish follow a tradition of jumping off chairs at midnight.
However weird traditions may be, they all boil down to one point - to ward off the old and ring in the new.
A Cheerful and Magnificent New Year, 2015 to all our readers.