Happy New Year to all ! ? The New Year is a universal event celebrated in almost all countries of the world but each country has well-established traditions and its way of celebrating this particular moment.
According to the Gregorian calendar, January 1st is the official date to celebrate the New Year. It marks the beginning of the New Year for many cultures. However, the date of the beginning of the year was not always January 1st.
In fact, at the time of the Capetian kings, the New Year began on Easter Day; and under Charlemagne, it began on Christmas Day. Finally, in 1622, Pope Gregory XV again fixed, and definitively, the New Year on January 1st in order to simplify the calendar of religious holidays.
Here is a brief overview of the most unusual traditions of New Year’s Eve! However, the world does not celebrate the New Year at the same time, because of the time zones! Thus, New Zealand is the first country to celebrate the New Year and French Polynesia is the last country to celebrate it!
In Sydney, the New Year? attracts a lot of tourists. The boats make circles in the bay and light up with a thousand lights. At midnight, the 80,000 fireworks displayed in Sydney Harbour and on the famous Bridge are lit up for several minutes.
Other Australian cities are also preparing festivities for their residents and passing tourists. For example, in Melbourne, you can attend a concert or a show before admiring the fireworks that are visible throughout the city. In Brisbane, you can see two fireworks, one of which is launched at 20:30 and the second at midnight. We drink champagne at the stroke of midnight; all hold hands while singing Auld Lang Syne, a Scottish song.
In the land of the rising sun, New Year’s Eve (Oshōgatsu) ? is an important family celebration.
It is customary, during the last days of December, to clean his house from top to bottom, a sort of purification rite called «ôsôji», for the new year to come. They then decorate their front door with traditional objects that are supposed to bring longevity and prosperity, such as the «kadomatsu», which is a lucky charm, the «kagami mochi», an offering made up of rice cakes and a small bitter orange and a «shimenawa» to protect their internality from demons. The Japanese are also taking advantage of this to settle their debts and liquidate their ongoing affairs.
The New Year’s Eve (Ōmisoka) usually takes place with the family, around a meal with sake. They drink a miso soup (long and thin noodles) that symbolizes longevity. Before midnight, the family leaves for the nearest temple to share sake and witness the striking of the 108 gong calls announcing the passage to the New Year. This figure is supposed to represent the number of sins accumulated in a soul throughout the year, and by this act they drive out sins of the unclean souls. The tradition is to then set down to contemplate together the first sunrise of the New Year, called «hatsuhinode».
Between January 1st and 7th, the whole family must go to the Shinto temples in the traditional dress to drink the «O-toso», the first sake of the year made from spices and medicinal herbs in order to have good health for the future.
Russians have the chance to celebrate New Year’s Eve? twice ! Because if it is officially celebrated on January 1st according to the Gregorian calendar, the Orthodox Church fixes it on January 14th. Even better: this entire period is a holiday. Like us, the Russians gather around good dishes, including the famous olive salad made with diced vegetables, eggs, and other ingredients or the Empress roast, which dates back to the 19th century, in the time of Catherine II la Grande. This roast consists of stuffing a lark with olives and anchovy , putting it in a partridge, then in a pheasant, and all in a piglet. A recipe that requires a real know-how and a big appetite.
They drink champagne when the 12 strokes of midnight ring. After the 12th blow, they open the door or window to let the New Year into the houses, and offer themselves gifts.
In Russia, there is a tradition for the wishes of the Russians to be granted: to drink his vows previously burned. In fact, after taking care to write them on paper, the Russians burn them and recover their ashes, which they add to a drink they swallow. Thus ingested into the body, the wishes will be fulfilled the following year.
While the official day is January 1st, the Chinese New Year in 2021 is February 12th, 2021. So this year will be the Year of the Ox. To celebrate the New Year, in China, just write and send your vows in a “wishing tree”. This paper must then hold the whole evening for the wish to come true. Chinese New Year ? is also celebrated with spectacular fireworks, explosions of firecrackers and dragons in the streets. Children and even adults also receive gifts : red envelopes containing money.
Like us, Italians take advantage of New Year’s Eve to organize meals and festivities ? ! But in the south of the country, especially in Naples, a very strange custom takes place on December 31st. Indeed, it is better not to hang out in the streets because they usually throw objects that they no longer use by the windows (clothes, dishes, furniture), a symbol of new life. To the great displeasure of passers-by and garbage collectors! A tradition that tends to disappear, in view of the obvious dangers it can entail. On New Year’s Day, called Capodanno, Italians gather around typical dishes that are supposed to bring abundance, such as the famous panettone or dishes made with seeds and cakes coated with honey, or pork feet with lentils.
In Spain there is an unmissable tradition for the Nochevieja or Fin de año, in other words New Year’s Eve ?. Even in a Catholic country like Spain, ancestral traditions remain very present, especially for the New Year.
Then, the Spaniards meet shortly before midnight around the big clock of their city or village to perpetuate together this festive ritual anchored in their customs of New Year’s Eve. It is customary for everyone to swallow a grape at each campanadas (bells) at midnight. This allows us to obtain luck, prosperity and success for the whole of the coming year. This tradition of swallowing 12 grapes dates back to the beginning of the 20th century when grape producers managed to sell a surplus of production by inventing this tradition. This event is also broadcast live on television and radio.
It is a tradition to put in your pocket a coin, a little salt and a piece of coal when an Englishman leaves your house after midnight, after New Year’s Eve. These elements respectively symbolize the money, food and warmth that will be abundant for the New Year.
In London, the British gather along the Thames to watch the New Year’s fireworks ? under the Big Ben. Their custom is to sing the song “Auld Lang Sine” to end the year in style and say goodbye.
In Scotland there are great festivities called Hogmanay, especially in Edinburgh where a large number of Scots and tourists gather?. We hug each other and sing the traditional Scottish song “Auld Lang Syne”. When we ring the Midnight Bell, we mainly witness the First Footing custom: the first person to enter the house will determine the chance that the New Year will bring to the entire home. This first footer should generally be a tall, well-dressed man. Note that he must enter the right foot first, and with an offering (bread for the family, whiskey for the head of the family, and a piece of charcoal for the fireplace). No one should speak to him until he has completed these three tasks and wishes the whole family a happy new year. He then exits through the back door.
THE UNITED STATES
New Year’s Eve ? is an important celebration, especially in New York City. An impressive crowd of New Yorkers meets at the foot of Times Square Tower 1 to watch the famous Ball Drop: a huge half-ton ball descends along the building at 11:59 pm to reach the ground at midnight! Then the New Yorkers party in the streets under a rain of fireworks and confetti, around concerts and many animations. In the rest of the United States, cities celebrate the New Year by bringing down symbolic objects in the same way at the time of the long-awaited countdown.
The New Year’s Eve ? is one of the most important festivals in the country. We usually eat a meal made with rice and lentils, in order to invite happiness and prosperity for the new year. In addition to the shows and fireworks in many cities, the most famous festival is held on the beach of Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro, where thousands of people gather to celebrate the New Year. We dress all in white, in order to drive out evil spirits and attract purity and innocence. The Brazilians make offerings to Iemanja, the godhead of the sea and protector of the fishermen with flowers and jewels thrown into the sea. The New Year’s Eve (Corrida de São Paulo) race takes place in São Paulo: athletes from all over the world come to participate!
We hope our article has inspired you to celebrate the New Year’s Eve ?!
We wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year ! We hope that 2021 will be better than 2020.
And as always, be curious!