Nothing beats the joy of traveling, seeing a new thing and getting introduced to different cultures and old traditions. Thanks to the internet and information revolution, you can experience all of them, except for traveling surely, while sitting at home. Celebrating January 1 is mutual between many nations, so as some ways of celebration like fireworks, family and friends gatherings, and counting down to midnight at the last minute of the year, but on the other hand, each country has its different celebrating traditions. It’s interesting and refreshing to see how one event can be celebrated by numerous people with different backgrounds in so many ways. The following are 15 of the most interesting New Year traditions around the world.
15 The adventurers
Speaking of travel, to inviting the hope for a travel-filled year to become true, People in Colombia wander on the last day of the year carrying suitcases around with them which can be a cool application for the adage”Fake it until you make it”. It also recalls the ancient belief that by imitating natural phenomena you encourage them to manifest, a belief on which many practices, rituals, and festivals by different civilizations in ancient times were based.
And these ones can take the tradition to a whole new level of fun.
14 Eating for the sake of abundance and good luck
In Spain, on New Year’s Eve, the first chime of the clock at midnight initiates a task needed to be accomplished precisely in order to invite happiness and good luck into the newly-born year. Many Spanish and Latin American people eat 12 grapes, one with each of the twelve chimes at midnight. If you fail to cram the 12 grapes into your mouth at the right time, you will be threatened by bad luck. That’s fun, but it needs some practice.
In another spot of the world, Estonia, the number 12, alongside 7 and 9, is incorporated into the New Year’s day as a lucky number. The Estonians try to eat seven, nine or twelve times on this day. The more you eat the more abundance in the food you will witness the coming year.
13 Roosters choose the brides of the year
Among the New Year traditions in Belarus is a game played by unmarried groups of women; the result is determining the one who is going to marry in the coming year. The Star of the show is a rooster who goes for one of the piles of corn in front of each lady, and the owner of the chosen pile is the winner.
12 Predicting the future
Besides being a subject that Hogwarts teaches, predicting the future has ancient roots in many cultures around the world and still echoes in the traditions of different places. Among the New Year traditions in the Czech Republic is predicting what the new year has to offer using half of an apple. In Finland, it’s more complicated. The practice of casting tin requires melting down a piece of tin, then pouring it into cold water; the shadow it casts when return solid is used to make some predictions regarding the coming year.
11 New underwear, different colors
Some New Year celebrating traditions pay attention to the underwear. People in Italy, Spain, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, and Brazil opt for new underwear. The color and its symbolism differ between red in Italy, Spain and Chile for it is considered bringer of love, prosperity, and luck; pink in Argentina, also to attract love; yellow in Bolivia for fortune; and white in Brazil to symbolize a pure start.
10 The main ingredient is Mothers’ wishes
In Armenia, mothers bake special bread for the New Year laden with their love and well wishes which they knead into the dough.
9 Letters to parents and godparents
Children of Belgium prepare themselves for the New Year in such a cool way; they write letters to parents and godparents. They prepare them at schools and decorate them with ribbons, roses, and angels. And on 1st Jan they read it to their parents and godparents. This can be a really fun and healthy practice, especially if the children are taught to write their hearts, not some usual lines for the occasion.
8 Sprinkling salt
However traditionally considered as a bad luck to spill salt in Europe, in Turkey it is traditional to sprinkle salt on the doorsteps just at midnight, while the bells ring in the new year, calling for peace and abundance. Actually, salt used to be of great importance for many ancient cultures as seasoning, preservative, disinfectant and as a unit of exchange. Consequently, it was loaded with meanings and beliefs since ancient times. In ancient Egypt, for example, Natron – the hydrated soda ash that made up most of the historical salt – was used in the mummification process to preserve the deceased body; and among the rituals held after erecting temples was encompassing the structure with natron for protection and purification. The Bible comprises numerous references to salt; it is a symbol of sanctity in Jesus reference to the “salt of the earth”. The traditional belief of splitting salt as a bad omen goes back to ancient Rome when salt was formerly considered a friendship symbol for its lasting quality. Therefore spilling it hasn’t been received as a good thing.
7 New York ball drop
Initiated in 1907 to welcome 1908, the New Year ball drop has become a prominent part of New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square. Each year in the last minute of the year, the ball makes 43-meter-high, 60-second journey down and rests at 12 sharp. The ball drop was originally organized by Adolph Ochs, owner of the New York Times newspaper to celebrate and promote its status as the new headquarters of the Times. Since then, there are only two years when the ball drop didn’t take place; 1942 and 1943 due to wartime blackouts. Recently, live entertainment, including performances by musicians usually precede the drop. And since 1996, a special guest, annually selected, has been invited to join the current mayor of New York City, including Oseola McCarty, Muhammad Ali, Jazz musician Wynton Marsalis, Bill and Hilary Clinton. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Lady Gaga and the guest of 2016-2017 was Ban Ki-moon and activating the ball was his last act as the United Nation Secretary-General.
6 Holding hands and singing Auld Lang Syne
Just before midnight, people in the UK and other English speaking countries sing Auld Lang Syne while holding hands in circles. It’s a poem written by Scottish poet Robert Burns and has been traditionally singing as a farewell to the old year. The Scots title means “old long since”, and can also be translated as “long long ago”; its first line “For auld lang syne” can be translated as “for the sake of old times”. Anyway, after singing and at the last minute before midnight, they count the seconds down; once the clock strikes 12, they hug and kiss wishing each other a happy New Year. Also, many people go out in the morning to watch the New Year’s Day parade which comprises more than 10,000 performers from all over the world, it is definitely worth watching!
5 Saint Basil gifts, foam spray battle, gambling and Vasilopita
In Greece, gifts are exchanged on the New Year, not Christmas, delivered by Agios Vasilis, Saint Basil, the Greek Santa Claus. On the New Year’s Eve, children and teens engage in mighty battles armed with plastic clubs, foam sprays, and whistles; such heavy weapons probably causes a blast of fun. Also because the Greeks consider the beginning of the year a lucky time, they are used to gambling and card-playing. Thank god the betting sums are usually kept low, or the losers’ holiday would be completely ruined. Another cool element of the celebration is the New Year cake, Vasilopita, with a golden coin inside. Cutting the Vasilopita is among the few primordial customs have endured till today. It is an echo for the Kronia, the celebration of the ancient god Kronos, son of Uranus – the sky – and Gaya – the earth who was the leader and youngest of the first generation of the Titans, and the father of Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Hades, Hestia, Demeter, Chiron. The Kronia was a celebration of harvest during which sweets and cakes were prepared with a coin inside each. This tradition has been fused into the Orthodox tradition of the New Year cake. The lucky one of the year among the group is who gets the piece with the coin.
4 Sacred circles
In the Philippines, the circle shape has long been believed to be sacred. Therefore the Philippines like to surround themselves with the motif in different applications while celebrating the New Year, like wearing polka dots; but this one is more challenging; gathering 12 different, round fruits. Many end up with some non-circular fruits. The star of the day is imported ubas which are completely round purple grapes. There are also oranges, clementines, cantaloupe, pomelo, and watermelon. Other holiday foods loaded with symbols are pancit, noodles, which symbolizes long life, and eggs signify new life.
3 108 bill rings!
Starting from 1873, the official Japanese New Year has been celebrated on January 1, according to the Georgian calendar. Prior to that, the New Year date was based on the Chinese calendar, as the contemporary Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese still are. Among Japan’s most important national traditions for the New Year are the 108 bell rings; At December 31 midnight, Buddhist temples in the whole country ring their bills 108 times. The number stands for the 108 human sins in the Buddhist belief.
2 Throwing old stuff
South Africans in Johannesburg celebrate the New Year by throwing old appliances from the windows. In Argentina it’s more creative and symbolic; residents in Buenos Aires shred old papers and documents on 31 December, then throw the scraps from the windows creating a beautiful shower of confetti all over the city. This idea rocks!
1 Kisses beneath mistletoe & grape harvest at midnight
Aligning with the romantic spirit of France is a tradition that some revive which is kissing beneath mistletoe at the midnight. Also, in Viella, a village close to the Spanish border, grapes are harvested at midnight! Late in the evening of the New Year’s Eve, the villagers leave the church heading the vineyards in a torchlight procession. When the clock strikes midnight, the harvest begins. The produced wine, known to be strong and sweet, are specially marked to show that the grapes were harvested on the New Year’s Day. And here we come to the delicious French food; certain cakes and tarts are associated with the holiday, including heart-shaped cakes “le coeur de l’an”, and king’s cake ” la galette des rois” which consists of a puff pastry case filled with frangipane. Similar to the Greek tradition, a dried bean, small coin or ceramic figure are hidden inside, and who finds it in his/her piece is the king for the day and the paper crown sold with the cake is his/ hers to wear.
A good thing about knowing about others lifestyles and celebration traditions, besides the joy of knowledge itself, is that you can refresh your routine by trying one or more of the acts you like among them.