Champagne, blowing of horns and the New Year Ball – these are as familiar to most Americans as Santa Claus – and symbolizes festivity probably just as much as Jolly Old Saint Nicholas himself does. On the 31st of December, thousands of people gather around Time Square in New York City and millions around the country stay tune to their televisions for the annual New Year’s Eve celebration. Since this will happen in a few days’ time, I felt compelled to write a piece on the New Year traditions from around the world.
Have you ever wondered what other people from different continents do while we’re counting down the last few seconds of the clock and even as we’re toasting champagne glasses with all the good cheer that we hope to have all year ‘round? Well, wonder no more. In this article, I will attempt to shed some light on just how other people from across the globe celebrate the coming of the brand-new year.
First off, I will begin with myself. For one thing, I didn’t grow up in the United States. I was born and raised in Asia, and to us, the New Year should be celebrated with a bang. Literally. Aside from blowing party horns, I grew up to the tradition of clanging pots and pans to make a lot of noise. This will supposedly ward off evil spirits so that we can have a fruitful year. The Chinese people do the same thing, only they use firecrackers. Needless to say, they should be lit up by sober people. You don’t want to light up a firecracker when you’re in your cups. Seriously. It’s not worth losing an arm over.
Another tradition related to the New Year has something to do with food. Again, in my case, 13 round shaped fruits should be present at the table. The Chinese celebrate their New Year by eating sticky treats called Nian Giao. The Irish have their pastry called bannocks. The Dutch serve their famous olie bollen for the celebration. Brazilians eat lentil soup. In Spain, one must eat one grape for each of the twelve times a clock strikes at midnight. These foods are usually consumed for good luck in the coming year.
Then there are the others. Wearing pink underwear brings forth good fortune in love. Jumping nonstop when the clock strikes 12 will make you taller in the coming year and since I am vertically-challenged, I have actually done this in the past. Wearing polka-dotted clothes will mean you will have a prosperous year.
From writing down bad things that happened during the year and burning that paper to burn away bad luck to wearing white to breaking old dishes on friends’ doorsteps, we surely have a lot of strange traditions associated with the New Year. Whether you choose to follow these or not, remember what the New Year is about: a fresh start to become better and a chance to move on from the negativities of the past.
May you truly have a Happy New Year!