We all know that the big crystal ball drops in New York’s Times Square. But did you know there are many other traditions besides a countdown and parties for New Year’s Eve?
In Scotland, they celebrate Hogmanay, an ancient Viking ceremony celebrating the winter solstice that also shares elements from the Gaelic Samhain winter festival. Hogmanay starts on New Year’s Eve and continues into January 2nd.
The Chinese celebrate in a variety of ways, with different regions having different traditions. One is the New Year’s Eve dinner, where the family gathers to eat fish and dumplings, both symbols of prosperity. Fireworks are used to banish evil and Red Packets, red envelopes with money inside, are given by adults to young children.
Our British cousins celebrate the New Year with firecrackers, parties, singing and dancing. They also sing Auld Lang Syne, an ancient Scottish folk song that, depending on your source, was translated or embellished by poet Robert Burns. The song refers to the joys of friendship and togetherness paired with the sorrow of saying farewell to those we love.
Lucky enough to be in Australia for the New Year? That’s where the New Year starts first. Australians welcome in the New Year with a barbeque. People party on their boats, in parks and on beaches. The Sydney Harbor is known for its spectacular fireworks display that is watched worldwide.
In Spain, eat twelve grapes before the end of the countdown to the New Year, starting when there are only twelve seconds left of the old year. This tradition, started by grape growers, is said to bring good luck and is called “las dos uvas de la suerte” – the twelve grapes of luck.
You may not want to try this but in Denmark, some people throw plates and glasses at their friend’s houses to celebrate the New Year. If you open your front door and find a lot of broken glass, you’re going to have a really great year. And a mess to clean up!
In Chile, revelers eat lentils at midnight to bring a good year of work and money. They also thoroughly clean house, sweeping from inside out to get rid of bad energy that may have accumulated during the year.
In Germany, a hot punch made of dry red wine, cinnamon, cloves and orange peel is warmed, and then a large cone shaped piece of sugar that has been well-soaked in rum is placed on a special holder that sits above the wine. The sugar is lit with a match. The sugar caramelizes and melts into the hot mulled wine. Lots of firecrackers and loud noises at the stroke of midnight are followed by jelly donuts that may or may not have a practical joke inside – mustard instead of jelly!
However you celebrate, from all of us at IMS, best wishes for a Happy New Year!