Do you make new year resolutions and keep fireworks and noisemakers handy for use to welcome the new year with élan?
These acts that sound so natural to occur during any new year celebrations are actually popular new year customs practiced around the world to express jubilation and excitement. Not to mention, there are some very old country-specific customs of new year celebrations as well, which to this day are followed with full enthusiasm.
New Year Customs in India
India is a land of customs and cultures. There are a wide variety of customs that the people in India follow. Although the customs keep changing yet people enjoy following them as they bring joy and happiness.
The people in India regard the New Year as a time to think of the future in hope and anticipation. The New Year is a time of festivities and a perfect time to think something new and forget the past. Dancing,partying, feasting and enjoying throughout the night of the New Year are essential New Year customs that the people in India follow on New Year.
The various states in India celebrate New Year on different dates. Although the customs in the states differ but the spirit of the people in celebrating the New Year remains the same throughout. Some states in India especially the Hindu celebrate diwali which is the festival of lights as the New Year.
The people in India on this day worship goddess lakshmi. She is believed to bring wealth and good fortune on New Year. Lighting lamps and worshipping her are important New Year customs that the people in India follow.
The people in Punjab regard baisakhi as their New Year. There is a fair held and as custom has it dances and shows are organized to celebrate the New Year. The people in Gujarat consider lights to be a symbol for the New Year.
Food, flowers, and gifts are kept on a special tray in Kerala that is situated in Southern India. The children on New Year’s Day keep their eyes closed until they are led to the tray. Making New Year resolutions are important New Year customs that the people in India regard as essential and close to their heart.
New Year Customs in US
Of all the new year customs observed in the United States, possibly the most famous that’s watched the world over with abated breath, is the dropping of the lighted New Year ball in Times Square (New York City) at dot 11:59 PM. As it happens, mass hysterical cheers and rain of confetti mark the start of new year.
Having Hoppin’ John with black-eyed peas and ham hocks to go with it, is another time-honored new year custom that stays young to this day. It is believed that eating peas on new year day will bless the family with prosperity and good luck for the rest of the year.
New Year Customs in UK
The most popular of all new year customs in UK is called “First footing”, where neighbors pay visit to each other to wish New Year, shortly after midnight. It is considered very lucky if the first visitor to the house happens to be a tall, dark and handsome male carrying along with a piece of coal, a loaf and a bottle of Whisky for gift. The custom also holds that the visitor should not either speak nor should be spoken to until he has gifted the coal to the fireplace, loaf on the table and glass of drink to the head of the family. The visitor should then break the silence first by wishing “Happy New Year” to all the members of the family and ideally leave the house through the back door. It is believed that such a first footing brings good luck and prosperity in the house.
Chinese New Year customs
The Chinese New Year “Yuan Tan” is celebrated for 15 days. It is based on the Lunar Calendar and the New Year falls between January 21 and February 20. The new moon is the bas for calculating the new beginning.
It is a Chinese New year custom to enjoy feasting during the celebrations. With the change of time the customs have also altered. In the cities, spectacular processions take place which includes giant dragons and hand made lanterns. It is custom to exchange red envelopes with coins in it. It brings fortune and good luck to the family. The members of the family pay homage to all the ancestors.
Korean New Year customs
The Korean New Year is celebrated in January and is based on lunar calendar. It is known as ‘Sol nal’ and is time for family gatherings. On the New Year eve the Korean people place straw scoopers, sieves on their door and walls of the home to protect them from evil spirits.
It is a Korean custom to wear new clothes and start the day fresh with all the rituals. The younger family members bow to the elder ones and gathers in the home of the eldest male member of the family. Wishes and greetings are exchanged and prayers are held for good health and prosperity. One of the Korean New Year customs is to calculate the age of every person with the New Year day. This means that everyone becomes one year older on this day.
Persian New Year customs
The Persian New Year is also, known as ‘Noruz’ which falls during the spring. The Persian family members gather to offer prayers. They sit around haft sin table and pray for happiness throughout the year. When the clock struck 12 o’clock all the members kiss each other and enjoy the special feast arranged.
The customary meals include special rice made with herbs which is called “sabzi polo”, fish cuisines, “kuku sabzi” which is a quiche made with herbs. During the New Year people visit each other and younger ones receive ‘Eidi’ from the elders. This is a gift sum given by elders as the New Year gifts.
German New Year customs
In Germany most of the customs have changed but, many of the traditional families still celebrate the New Year with all the rituals. The German people drop molten lead into cold water and predict the future from the shapes created in the water. Like – heart shape means love, a ship denotes journey, ring shape means wedding and pig means plenty of food in the coming year.
People leave some food on their platter on the New Year eve as a tradition. It is believed that this would ensure stockpile for the rest of the year. Carp is also part of the custom as, it symbolizes wealth and fortune.
SOME OTHER INTERESTING NEW YEAR CUSTOMS AROUND THE WORLD
In Spain, it is considered auspicious to eat 12 grapes at Midnight of the new year eve. The custom holds each grape to stand for each month of the year and hence the person shall have 12 happy months, in the year ahead.
Among the Dutch, it is a new year custom to prepare bonfires out of Christmas trees and hence purge the old year to welcome the new.
In Japan, new year is the time to dispel 108 types of human sins and weaknesses. So at midnight of the new year eve, the monks at the Buddhist temple strike gongs 108 times and signify new start of the year.