New Years Around the World

New Years Around the World

The coming of the new year signals a new beginning. It is a chance to bid farewell to the past year and to anticipate the exciting things the next year will bring. In the United States, people stay up until midnight, throw parties, and watch fireworks displays. While the arrival of the new year is celebrated the world over, every country has its own New Year’s traditions. In some countries and cultures New Year’s isn’t even celebrated on January 1! Whichever day it is, it is indeed special and in just about every country, it is celebrated with fireworks. Read on to learn more about how different countries celebrate the holiday.

In Belgium children write letters to their parents. They decorate the cards with cherubs, angels and roses and make them colorful. They then read the cards aloud to their parents.

In Spain it is traditional to eat twelve grapes with each stroke of the clock at midnight. This ritual began in 1895 when some clever grape growers decided it would be a great way to use up their harvest surplus. Most families enjoy a big late night dinner before going out to celebrate.

As is true in many cultures, the Greek people use foods as symbols in holiday traditions. Greeks hang onions on their doors on New Year’s Eve as a symbol of a new beginning. The pomegranate fruit is used too. It is a symbol of good luck and prosperity. Greeks commonly break one on their doorstep before entering their houses on New Year’s Day. In many parts of Greece a special bread or cake is served. It contains a hidden coin that is said to bring good luck to the recipient. On New Year’s morning, parents tap their children on the head to wake them before going to church.

On New Year’s Eve in Japan, bells are rung 108 times in Buddhist temples to welcome Toshigami, the New Year’s God. The Japanese also clean their homes. They send cards to friends and family to say thanks and to wish them a Happy New Year, in the same way that people in other parts of the world send cards at Christmas.

Each New Year’s Eve television stations broadcast a black and white English comedy film called “Dinner for One”. It has become a tradition to watch the show. Germans also enjoy telling each other’s fortunes and some touch chimney sweeps or have them rub ash on their foreheads for good luck and health. Jam filled doughnuts and tiny marzipan candy pigs are eaten for good luck in the new year.

The Chinese Lunar New Year, or “Spring Festival” is celebrated in late January or early February. In some Chinese cities such as Shanghai and Hong King, there are celebrations on January 1. Children receive money in red paper envelopes. People buy presents for each other, and they clean their homes to eliminate bad luck.

In Argentina, people believe that eating beans before midnight will ensure good luck in their careers in the year ahead. Some also believe that if they carry a suitcase around the house they will travel more in the year ahead.

A special dessert is eaten in Denmark on New Year’s Eve. It is tall and cone shaped and is decorated with flags and firecrackers. Many people gather in Copenhagen to watch the Royal Guard parade in their bright red uniforms and celebrate when the town hall clock strikes midnight. On New Year’s Day some Danish people throw dishes on others’ doorsteps. It is thought that this will bring them many friends in the year ahead.

South Africa
Since it is warm in the southern hemisphere on January 1, many South Africans celebrate New Year’s outside. As in most countries around the world, people enjoy fireworks displays at midnight. Up to 80,000 people have gathered at the foot of famous Table Mountain, which overlooks the city of Cape Town, to welcome the new year.