New Year around the world

Published On: December 28, 2018 09:00 AM NPT By: The Week Bureau

With 2019 around the corner, you are probably anticipating a close-knit family union or maybe a night of loud music with friends for this year’s New Year celebrations. Of course, catching up with friends and family during New Year’s eve is common everywhere but some countries have given their New Year’s celebration an eccentric touch, including swaying gigantic fire balls, breaking dishes etc.

Here are five ways people around the world welcome the New Year. They make for some pretty fascinating ways of welcoming new dreams, hopes, and resolutions for the upcoming year. 

Hogmanay Fire Festival
“Hogmanay” means last day of the year for the Scots. It’s the festivals of lights and fire, where everyone comes out on the street to look at the wonderful spectacle of fireworks and watch the midnight parade of trained professionals swing balls of fire over their heads and then toss them into the sea. The origin of the tradition seems unclear but it may be derived from Norse and Gaelic observances. Along with gigantic fireballs, “first-footing” is also a tradition followed where the first guest to enter the house is considered to bring good luck. The festival also allows “gift-giving” among neighbors and friends as well. Festivities start out with street entertainment at about 11pm. Usually, there’s a band of pipers, followed by some very wild drumming. Just before midnight, a lone piper leads the fireball swingers into the town center around various cities in Scotland, leaving spectators terrified as well as amazed at the same time.

12 Grapes at Midnight
The twelve grape is a Spanish New Year tradition that dates back to 1895. At midnight, practically every Spaniard will stuff their mouths will 12 grapes – one each second after midnight – for good luck in the New Year. Every grape represents one month of the year, and must be eaten right at the stroke of midnight. If you don’t manage to eat all 12 grapes, it’s considered bad luck. The tradition consists of eating a grape with each bell strike at midnight of December 31. According to the tradition, that leads to a year of prosperity. In some areas, it’s believed that the tradition wards away witches and general evil, although this “magic” is treated like an old heritage, and in modern days it’s viewed as a cultural tradition to welcome the New Year. The grapes eaten are seedless green grapes, adding some freshness to your New Year’s dinner. 

Smashing China
In Denmark, if you want to wish your dear friends good luck for the upcoming year, you must smash plates at his/her front door. This is supposed to bring the person good fortune in all their future endeavors as well as prosperity in their work and family life. This is the precise moment that all of your grievances from the past twelve months can physically manifest themselves for the evening. The bigger the pile, the more popular the person is. So, in New Year, if you’re left clearing up a heap of broken china, it’s safe to assume that you are pretty much the Beyonce of your neighborhood. Along with the plate smashing, they also have midnight parades, huge food buffets to make the New Year even more special.

108 Bell Tolls
At midnight on December 31, Buddhist temples all over Japan ring their bells a total of 108 times to symbolize the 108 human sins Buddhist believe in, and to get rid of the 108 worldly desires regarding sense and feeling in every Japanese citizen. A major attraction is The Watched Night bell in Tokyo. Japanese believe that the ringing of bells can get rid of the sins they have committed in the previous year. The bell is rung 107 times on December 31st and once past midnight. Similarly, the Japanese alsp clean their houses (called osoji – big cleaning), make traditional food like “osechi-ryori” which consists of different dishes of egg as well as a variety of rice cakes. So, it’s the perfect night to leave your old self behind and commence the New Year with new resolutions and a clear head. By the time the bells rings for the 108th time, one is ready to start the New Year refreshed without anything troubling his/her mind.

Bear Ritual

According to the rural tradition of Romania, people are supposed to wear brightly colored costumes or animal furs and travel to different houses dancing to ward off evil, especially during the New Year. And the people of Romania have stuck to the traditions. They can be seen donning real bear skins and dancing around their neighborhood to drive away evil spirits. They are accompanied by drummers and a singing “bear tamer” as well. Along with this, Romanians can be seen drinking, singing and having a really good time. The origins of this traditions isn’t really clear but the gypsy (the Romani) influence is prominent in the lyrics as well as the dance. The ritual has survived all these years due to the efforts of the local government that throw parades and competitions to encourage people to organize bear troupes and also due to consistent efforts by the troupe leaders to preserve and give continuity to the ritual.

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