As the Christmas celebrations draw a close, the New Year party arrangements start everywhere with people making preparations to usher in the year on a grand note. It is the time to bask in revelry and enjoy all the good things. Besides the usual arrangements and parties organized to welcome the New Year, there are also some interesting rituals observed during this time.
Here is a look at the top 10 New Year traditions.
1. First Footing Of A Male on the New Year Considered Auspicious- Europe
It is a common and a long-lived custom in Europe to allow the entry of a male person inside one’s home after the clock strikes midnight on the New Year. First footing is considered to be an old and popular European tradition of ringing in the New Year. A male with preferably dark hair is chosen for first footing as blondes are generally linked to Vikings. The common belief is that the first footer should bring gifts that symbolize good things such as bread for food, salt for flavor, coin for prosperity and whiskey to bring in good cheer at home. Anyone from the family can come forward to perform this ancient European custom but such a member should remain outside during the hours leading up to the midnight.
2. Predict The Future Of the Country By Looking At the Direction of the Wind-Ireland
Irish people check the direction of the wind blowing at midnight on New Year’s Eve to predict the political future of their country. This Irish tradition features among the most interesting New Year traditions in the world. Good fortune is believed to prevail in the New Year if the wind blows from the west. However, the intervention of British is expected in the year when the direction of the wind is from the east. Irish people also observe the tradition of exchanging mistletoe leaves to wash away the bad luck and it was used by single women to get hitched with handsome men. Knocking on the doors and windows with bread is considered to wipe out evil spirits and ensure prosperity for the New Year.
3. Organizing Spectacular Parties and Celebrations- Portugal
Portugal ushers in the New Year by lightning up the midnight sky with fireworks. In fact, a small Portugese island named Madeira has been awarded a place in the Guinness Book of Records for organizing the most unforgettable and highly pulsating New Year’s party. The capital city of Madeira- Funchal looks stunning with over thousands of fireworks being lighted up. Tourists from different parts of the world come to this city to revel in the electrifying atmosphere and celebrate New Year. Government also sponsors the fireworks to ensure that the New Year tradition is kept alive year after year.
4. People celebrate Hogmanay to Usher in the New Year-Scotland
New Year is the biggest holiday of the year in Scotland and people of this country give celebrations the name of Hogmanay. Visiting the house of dear ones is one of the New Year traditions followed dutifully by the Scottish people. First footing or being the first one to enter the house right after the clock strikes midnight on the eve of the New Year is a long-lived ritual of this country. Visitors carry a lump of coal to a friend’s or relative’s house when observing this tradition. Burning juniper branches and carrying them throughout the house is also a tradition carried out by many in Scotland.
5. Imperial Ball At Austria
Each New Year, a tradition of the Hapsburg dynasty is followed in Austria, whereby the dancers have to turn up in white gowns and black jackets. “The Blue Danube” is played at midnight and each New Year’s Day is welcomed with the performance of the Strauss operetta, “Die Fledermaus. Eating suckling pig is considered to bring in good luck in Austria and this interesting New Year tradition has continued for several years.
6. Roll Coconut And Get Rid of Evil Spirits-Puerto Rico
A ritual of rolling coconut around the house and later throwing it in ocean followed in Puerto Rico is featured in the one of the top most New Year traditions. Children also throw buckets of water outside the window at the stroke of midnight as a custom to wash away evil spirits. Frankincense and myrrh are burned inside the home to remove all negativity.
7. Preparations made to welcome New Year’s God- Japan
Another strange but a chief New Year ritual is observed in Japan, wherein people spent the entire day in making arrangements to welcome toshigami- considered to be the New Year’s god. Houses are cleaned and Kadomatsu or Shimenawa are cooked up to be offered to the God. Bells in the Buddhist temple, which represent 108 elements of bonno or defilements, are struck 108 times on midnight.
8. Emancipation Day For African Americans in The US
New Year holds a special meaning as it was on January 1, 1863 that the Emancipation Proclamation was read in Boston. The declaration freed the slaves from bondage and it is from then onwards that African- American families hold watch services on the New Year. It is often referred to as the Jubilee Day. The New Year celebration spans over seven days, beginning from December 26. It is a way of African-American people to connect with their roots.
9. Effigies are burnt on New Year’s Day- Ecuador
One of the unique New Year traditions followed in Ecuador is burning of effigies representing some political leaders or people who are disliked by the public. Effigies are made up of newspaper, straw and old clothes and stuffed with fire crackers. People gather together to burn the effigies at midnight. This tradition symbolizes burning of the evil spirits of the past year and embracing the New Year.
10. Arrangements for Musical Events And Bonfires To Welcome New Year -Iceland
People in Iceland set up bonfires throughout the country. Musical events, fun-filled shows and food tables are organized to usher in the New Year.