New Year Celebrations Around The World

The arrival of new year represents great joy. It is celebrated in many different ways. There are big public celebrations. The most famous are those in New York, Sydney, London and Berlin. At midnight there are beautiful fireworks.

People of New York have the New Year's Eve Ball which moves down the flag pole at the Times Square. The ball had been moving for the first time to mark the start of 1908. The man behind the tradition was German Jewish immigrant Alfred Ochs.

New Year's Eve Ball in New York
New Year's Eve Ball in New York

Big New Year parties can be held on beaches. One of the most famous is the one on the Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Instead of participating at such celebrations some people watch tv. In many countries presidents or monarchs address the nation on the New Year's Eve. There are tv shows typical for the occasion. In Canada there is the sketch comedy troupe Royal Canadian Air Farce. Germans on the other side for many years enjoy in the Dinner for one. Some sport events are organized too. In São Paulo, Brazil they have the Saint Silvester Marathon (Corrida de São Silvestre).

Pummerin bell in Vienna, Austria
Pummerin bell in Vienna, Austria

At midnight in Vienna, Austria you can hear the sound of what locals call the “Pummerin”. It is the bell of famous St. Stephen's Cathedral. What follows is the sound of the "Donauwalzer" (The Blue Danube) by Johann Strauss II. On the 1st of January there is the New Year's Concert by Vienna Philharmonics. This classical music concert includes works of the Strauss family, but also those from some other Austrian composers. The concert is held since 1939.

Music and dance are important for the celebrations in Poland too. The Warsaw Philharmonic Society organizes a famous ball in the castle built by Teutonic Knights in Golub-Dobrzyn, Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship. The ball is attended by “the man of the year”. Everything is done to get rid of the old year. So, some traditional pranks like for example smearing of windows and doorknobs with tar are allowed.

Lot of delicious food is prepared for the occasion. Some food is typical for that special night. In Denmark people eat Marzipan ring cake (in Danish Kransekage). In the Czech Republic eating lentils or soup with small peas means good financial situation in the coming year. On the other side, it is considered bad luck to eat rabbit or chicken on the New Year's day. It is believed that by doing so good luck is going to leave you.

In Spain the New Year's Eve is called “Nochevieja” or “The Old Night”. In this country there is a special ritual performed during the new year countdown. People eat 12 grapes and make wishes for each chime of the bell. This act should bring you good luck in the new year. Similar ritual exists in some other Spanish speaking countries of Latin America. In Belgium children buy decorated paper and write their wishes for the new year. On new year's morning they read them to their parents and godparents.

Estonians think that their lucky numbers are 7, 9 and 12. It is believed that a person should eat 7, 9 or even 12 times on the last day of the year. This should ensure lot of food in the coming year. Not all food is eaten during these numerous meals. Little bit of food is left for the ancestral spirits who visit the house on the New Year's Eve.

In Romania people have a tradition known as “sorcova”. It is held on the 1st of January. Children sing a traditional blessing carol. While singing they use a stick decorated with some paper flowers to gently touch the adults' shoulder. After that some money is given to the children. On the same day some Romanians toss coins into the water. They believe that this will bring them good fortune during whole year.

Vasilopita
Vasilopita

In Greece the 1st of January is not only the first day of the year. It is also the day of death of St. Basil. It is believed that he arrives in the night of the New Year's Eve and brings gifts for the children. They find them in their shoes. On the 1st of January Greeks also prepare “Vasilopita” or St. Basil's cake. A gold or silver coin is hidden inside the cake. The person who finds it is going to be happy during whole year.

In the first hours of new year people in the southeast of the United States traditionally serve black-eyed peas. It is believed that they bring good luck and prosperity. There are other versions of this tradition. Some claim that you must eat 365 or more black-eyed peas to be lucky in the new year. There are also those who put a coin in the black-eyes peas. A person who founds it will be lucky.

Dolls called Old Years (Años Viejos) in Ecuador
Dolls called Old Years (Años Viejos) in Ecuador

In Ecuador people have interesting tradition of making special dolls called “Old Years” (in Spanish Años Viejos). They are symbols of people and events from the passing year. These dolls are made of old newspapers, clothes, straw and other materials. At midnight they are burned. This action symbolically says goodbye to the old year and welcomes the new one. In Panama people traditionally burn dolls representing celebrities and politicians. They are known as “muñecos”.

At midnight of the New Year's Eve people in Cuba open both front and back door of the house. It is done so to let the old year out and welcome the new year. On the first day of new year many Cubans walk around their house carrying an empty suitcase. It is believed that by doing so you are going to travel a lot during new year.

In Latin America some people believe that there is a connection between colour of the underwear worn on the New Year's Eve and fulfilling of wishes in the coming year. Red is the colour of love. White is worn for good health. Green means financial growth.

Hogmanay Party in Edinburgh, Scotland
Hogmanay Party in Edinburgh, Scotland

“Hogmanay” is a synonym for the New Year's party in Scotland. The word actually means the last day of the year. The party lasts till the morning of the 1st of January, but there are cases of the party going on until the 2nd of January. The most famous tradition related to the Hogmanay is the one known as “first footing”. Individuals or whole families visit others and bring them traditional presents – a bottle of whiskey, “shortbread” (kind of a biscuit), fruit cake called “black bun” and a piece of coal. The guests usually get some food and whiskey.

Some melodies became kind of synonym for the New Year's Eve celebration. One of such song is “Auld Lang Syne” (in English “The Good Old Days”). People in most English speaking countries sing this song at midnight on the New Year's Eve. The lyrics for this song were written by the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns (1759-1796).

On the 31st of December, there is Nos Galon Road Race (in Welsh Rasys Enwog Nos Galan). This 5 kilometres long race is organized in the town of Mountain Ash, Cynon Valley located in the south of Wales. The first race was in 1958.

In Wales people have something what is called “Calennig”. This tradition is held on the New Year's Day. Groups of boys carry strange three-legged creature from house to house. During their little performances they splash people with water. They ask for gifts like bread and cheese.

In Denmark people break dishes at their neighbours' doorsteps. If you have lot of broken dishes at your doorstep you will be very lucky in the coming year.