I am fascinated by the differences and similarities between cultures. New Year is something celebrated by the entire world, yet we all have different ways of celebrating. I have created a list of my 7 favorite New Year traditions.
01. Sydney, Australia
This is actually high on my bucket list. No surprise here, right? I have seen fireworks in Sydney. We went with my grandma when I lived there in 2001. However, the NYE fireworks are meant to be spectacular. Spectators set up with picnics around the harbour hours prior to get a spot.
Spaniards eat twelve green grapes in the twelve seconds after midnight. If someone can not finish their twelve grapes in twelve seconds, it is supposed to be bad luck. This tradition started in the 1800s as a way for vine growers to sell more grapes, but the tradition remains!
The Danes like to throw their old dishes at the front doors of their friends on NYE. Apparently, the bigger pile of broken dishes you have in front of your door, the more luck you’ll have in the new year. However, this seems counterintuitive to me!
I definitely wanted to include Denmark because I am focusing on it in January as my theme for the month is hygge, “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).” I plan to be very hygge as we ring in the new year!
Ecuadorians make or buy monigotes which are large dolls that signify all that went wrong or right with the old year. Sometimes these monigotes are created to look like politicians or pop icons. Throughout the day and night of NYE, the monigotes are burned. People place notes of bad things that happened the prior year to be burned. As the fire settles, people jump through the flames and over the ashes as a spiritual cleansing that dates back to ancient Andean cultural traditions.
In Japan, soba noodles are consumed during new year in a ritual known as toshikoshi soba which means year crossing noodles. It is believed that the noodles thin shape and long length signifies a long and healthy life. Some think that since soba noodles are made from the very resilient buckwheat plant, then eating soba noodles also represents strength in the new year.
Greeks hang onions on their doors to promote growth in the new year. Greeks believe that onions are a symbol of rebirth, so they hang the onions to promote growth throughout the new year.
Several Scottish traditions have been borrowed by the rest of the world including the bells that ring at midnight and singing “Auld Lang Syne”. However, I think Scotland may be the only place that practices ‘First Footing” which involves selecting a tall, dark man to be the first person of the year to cross a home’s threshold. He carries ceremonial gifts when he visits. It is thought that this tradition started when the last thing Scots wanted to see was a blonde Viking crossing their threshold!
I hope you enjoyed this list of traditions. Maybe next year, you can experience one for yourself!