The traditions of New Year’s

Posted 12/30/19

Countries around the world celebrate the ending of the old year and the beginning of a new one in different ways and at different times.    

-Spaniards commonly eat 12 grapes, one for …

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The traditions of New Year’s


Countries around the world celebrate the ending of the old year and the beginning of a new one in different ways and at different times.    

-Spaniards commonly eat 12 grapes, one for each striking of the bell in the church tower. In Barcelona and Madrid, crowds gather in the squares and bottles of Cava (Christmas champagne) are passed out for the celebration.

-In Columbia, people carry empty suitcases around the block in hopes of good travels and prosperity.

-The citizens of Denmark throw old plates and glasses against the doors of family and good friends to banish evil spirits. The Danes also climb up on chairs as midnight approaches and leap into January in hopes of good luck. While they are eating a meal of cod and mustard, the center of their tables are decorated with edible marzipan delights shaped like a cornucopia with goodies spilling out.

-In Panama, they burn effigies of well-known TV stars and politicians to represent the people they didn’t like in the just finished old year.

-Bonfires mark the arrival of the new in Scotland and people parade around the fires swinging giant fire kettles to purify the new year. New Year’s day is a time for visiting and when a person enters a home, a visitor brings a gift for the family as a good luck gesture. 

-In the Philippines, the people believe round shapes are significant as a symbol of prosperity because that is the shape of a coin. They also wear polka dots and eat 12 round fruits as the clock strikes midnight.

-Brazilians are particular about what color of underwear they wear. It is usually red for love or yellow as the harbinger of gold.

-In Greece, celebrants hang an onion by the door as a symbol of rebirth. On New Year’s morning, the parents awaken their children by tapping the onion against their children’s heads.

-The people of Japan eat long buckwheat noodles called soba, which represents crossing from the old year to the next. As they cut the noodle they are saying they are letting go of the old year before the New Year begins.

-The Italians eat coin shaped lentils, which represents luck and prosperity. Sausage is served with lentils to represent the plenty of the land.

-Many people of Australia simply shoot fireworks and enjoy the warm weather with picnics.

-In the United States, many watch as the glittering ball comes down at the striking of 12 at Times Square. Many people at that time sip a little bubbly and sing “Auld Lang Syne.”

Since the days of the Earth are represented by the 24-hour day, we cannot all celebrate at exactly the same time. There is an International Time line that lies between Big Diomede Island in Russia and Little Diomede Island in the U. S., and they are only a little over two miles apart. As a result, the island nation of Tonga is the first place to celebrate the arrival of the new year, and the last place nearly 24 hours later is the American Samoan Islands 

Other cultures celebrate at different times of the year as determined by the phase of the new moon. Many in China celebrate the Year of the Rat Jan. 25, 2020 as a spring festival.

Traditionally, people look forward to a new year with renewed optimism, and within the bigger national celebration, there are variations of family traditions. At the Stanley home, we play games and try to stay awake to see the New Year by eating fudge and popcorn by the fireplace.