New Year’s Traditions Around the World

Courtesy of MCC Each Dec. 31, people anxiously await and count down to the arrival of the new year. Jan. 1 often is a time for reflec…

Courtesy of MCC

Each Dec. 31, people anxiously await and count down to the arrival of the new year. Jan. 1 often is a time for reflection and for making future plans. It also is a holiday full of tradition.

Notable New Year’s traditions include toasting champagne beneath skies lit up by fireworks, kissing one’s sweetheart at midnight and making resolutions to better oneself in the year ahead.

New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day traditions vary across the globe. The following is a look at the unique ways people ring in the new year throughout the world.

• Filipinos embrace round fruits for the new year. The custom includes gathering 12 different round fruits for each month of the year. The round shape symbolizes wealth and prosperity.

• Around Stonehaven, Scotland, people wield large fireballs for the Hogmanay festival on New Year’s Eve. The idea is to ward off evil spirits by swinging balls of fires over the heads of trained professionals and then tossing them into the sea. The tradition has endured for more than 100 years.

• In the Eastern Orthodox Greek Church, Christmas isn’t celebrated until Jan. 7. Aghios Vassilis, the Greek Santa Claus, makes his rounds on New Year’s Day.

• Chilean families celebrate the arrival of the new year by commemorating deceased friends and family members. It is common for those in Chile to set up chairs next to graves in the cemetery.

• Burmese people end the Thingyan water festival on New Year’s Day. Since April, they have celebrated the arrival of Thagyamin, a celestial Buddhist figure, with the firing of water cannons. The water-logged revelry ends with the new year.

• Siberians celebrate the new year with the planting of the “New Year’s Tree” underneath frozen lakes. This “yolka” is said to symbolize the coming of Father Frost, but also represents starting over.

• Grapes are a hallmark of Spanish New Year’s celebrations. Throughout Spain, revelers gobble a grape per second as they count down the last 12 seconds of the year. Each grape corresponds to good luck for the 12 months of the new year.

• In Denmark, residents break old dishes on the doorsteps of family and friends on New Year’s Day. The bigger the pile, the more friends and good will in the new year.

• In China, where the new year is celebrated on Feb. 5 this year, according to the lunar calendar, celebrants paint their doors red or hang red curtains or cutouts on windows to symbolize good luck.


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