Ring in the new

At the beginning of every New Year, we wish our friends, relatives and neighbours “Happy New Year” with joy and hope. But did you know that almost every country has its own tradition?

The earliest recorded festivity goes back to ancient Babylon. The first new moon following the vernal equinox marked the beginning of the new year. Known as Akuti, it honoured the rebirth of the natural world. In time, the Julian calendar was followed all over the world and January 1 became the official New Year.

But some countries, preferred to celebrate in their own way.

Ring in the new

China follows the Gregorian calendar and so it is the Lunar New Year, or the Spring Festival, which falls on a different day every year.

The Jews, on the other hand, celebrate their New Year (Rosh Hashanah) in the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar.

Ring in the new

The Scots celebrate Hogmanay on December 31. Festivities combine street entertainment, fire festivals, and concerts. According to the ‘first-footing’ tradition, the first person to cross your threshold that night brings a gift of luck, which is usually coal for the fire or shortbread.

Ring in the new

In Times Square, New York, the U.S., a 700-pound ball is lowered on a pole. People watch the ball start its descent and count down the year’s final seconds, singing “Auld Lang Syne”.

The Dutch mark this important date with fireworks and explosions, described as “chaotic bursts of light”. The finale is a swim in the freezing waters of the North Sea.

Ring in the new

The Swiss believe that, if you drop a dollop of ice cream at midnight, you can channel your good luck and wealth.

Here are some more ways in which countries celebrate the New Year.

Brazil: Wear White

This signifies luck and prosperity and also wards off bad spirits. People also gather on beaches, ‘jump seven waves’ and throw flowers into the water as an offering to Lemanjá, the goddess of the sea.

Colombia: Carry a suitcase

Ring in the new

Partygoers carry empty suitcases at midnight in the hope of a year of travel; money to ensure financial security in the coming year; and baked lentils in their pockets for luck and affluence.

Denmark: Smashing Plates

Ring in the new

Smash your plates and old dishes to ward off bad spirits. The Dutch also jump off chairs at midnight to literally leap into the New Year. But, the best part is Kransekage, a wreath-shaped cake made with marzipan rings stacked one on top of another, and decorated with flags and ornaments.

Spain: Eat Grapes

Ring in the new

For every toll of the bell at midnight on December 31, eat one grape. The 12 grapes represent good luck for each month of the coming year.

Ecuador: Burn effigies

Ring in the new

This signifies the año viejo or old year. Ecuadorians make effigies in the likeness of politicians, pop culture and other iconic figures and set them on fire at midnight. It is meant to symbolise the cleansing of the bad energy from the previous 12 months and bring in good fortune.

Japan: Bonekai or Year-Forgetting Parties

Ring in the new

This day symbolises renewal and bidding farewell to the problems of the previous year with ‘year-forgetting parties’. On December 31, Buddhists temples strike their gongs 108 times with each ring representing one of the 108 earthy temptations a person must overcome to achieve nirvana and expel wrong deeds and the ill luck of the previous year.

So how are you bringing in the New Year?

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Printable version | Apr 19, 2021 7:20:45 PM |

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