Celebrating the new year around the world


January 2, 2020

Ringing in a new year and saying farewell to the old one is a ritual celebrated all around the world. Different countries and different cultures all have their own customs when it comes to welcoming a fresh beginning. In America, time is marked by a big ball drop, followed by that highly sought-after midnight kiss. The champagne is flowing and everyone around the country, for a brief moment, is in unison about their promising feelings for the future. The passing of all things old, and welcoming the new, is how everyone defines the coming of a new year. However, the traditions that are celebrated from country to country, vary quite differently from our own.

In Spain, New Year’s Eve is called Nochevieja, which translates into “old night.” One of the biggest and most popular traditions for the Spaniards isn’t what you drink at midnight, it’s what you eat at midnight. Twelve lucky grapes. Each one representing good luck for the 12 months in the coming new year. Each grape is to be eaten with each chime of the clock at midnight. If you can’t finish all the grapes before the end of the chimes, it is known to be bad luck.

The people of Denmark literally jump into the new year. As the clock strikes midnight, the Danish find the highest point around – usually a sofa – and jump off. This jump symbolizes the leap into the new year and overcoming potential challenges that lie ahead. Another tradition Denmark is known for, is the smashing of old, chipped dishes that have been kept and set aside throughout the year. On New Year’s Eve, the Danish travel around to friends and family, and smash these dishes against their front doors. The more smashed dishes someone has at their door, the more luck they will have in the new year.

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The Brazilian Réveillon (New Year’s Eve), is one of the biggest celebrations in the world. Not only do they hold the world’s largest firework show that evening, but the people of Brazil are known to be very serious about their New Year’s Eve traditions, making for quite the celebration. As a sign of peace and prosperity, Brazilians will all wear white clothing for their Réveillon. Taking it a step further, wearing colored underwear is another tradition that is followed. The color you choose signifies what you want to focus on in the new year. Blue for tranquility and friendship, orange for success, or yellow for money and luck. One more tradition that will increase luck in the new year is to jump over seven different waves, head-on. For every wave you successfully jump, you can make one wish. Afterwards, sending out flowers to the ocean, acts as an offering to the sea goddess, Lemanja.

In Japan, New Year’s Eve is known as Omisoka. Their new year is brought in by ringing bells in the Buddhist temples. The bells ring exactly 108 times, an event known as Joya No Kane. According to the Buddhist faith, the number 108 represents the number of human desires that lead to pain and suffering. The ritual of ringing the bells is meant to drive away negative emotions from the previous year.

Where ever you were for New Year’s Eve, ringing in a new decade is something to be celebrated.


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