Seven New Year’s Day traditions around the world
NO matter where you are in the world, the new year means new chances, opportunities and a fresh start.
We let go of the past and look forward to making the best of what is to come.
Not only do we ring in the new year at different times because of various time zones, but depending on where you come from, you may have different ways of celebrating it.
In South Africa, we spend time with friends and family waiting to count down the seconds into the New Year.
In many areas around the country, there will be huge parties thrown and the new year will be welcomed with a display of fireworks and cheering.
But this is not the case in some countries — here is how some countries celebrate New Year’s Day. Denmark
Many Danes will celebrate the New Year with a home-made meal of boiled cod complete with home-made mustard sauce.
For dessert, they will enjoy Kransekage — a Danish cake made by layering rings of marzipan on top of each other. This cake symbolises promises of happiness and riches.
Since 1980, the country watches an 18-minute short film called Dinner for One. This black-and-white film is such a classic on New Year’s Eve that Danes were up in arms when it wasn’t aired in 1985!
If Danes are watching the live broadcast of the midnight countdown on television, they will watch it from the highest point in their living room, normally the couch.
When the clock strikes midnight, they will jump down from the couch. This shows that they have overcome hurdles and challenges from the past year. They will then sing a song titled Welcome to the Lord’s New Year.
It is also tradition to smash broken china against your friends’ door.
The more broken china you have at your door, the more friends you have. This solidifies friendships and is a symbol of everlasting friendship, the happy Danes believe. Ecuadorians set fire to paper-mâché figures named the Viejos. Spain
Families gather to watch the countdown to midnight at the clock town in Puerta del Sol. The clock will chime 12 times. Each person will have grapes ready for the countdown. With each ring, they will pop a grape in their mouth; the 12 grapes symbolise the 12 months of the year. Eating a grape for each month will bring good fortune for that month.
Spaniards also believe that you should be wearing red underwear while performing this grape-eating ritual.
After the last grape has been eaten, people will hug and give each other cheek kisses while toasting on bubbly and eating almond and honey nougat.
Another New Year’s tradition is dropping a gold ring in a glass of bubbly, this is considered lucky. Philippines
Filipinos celebrate the New Year with a large feast for friends and family.
One of the dishes is long Filipino noodles that are believed to bring good luck. Round fruits will also be found on the table as they are a sign of prosperity.
Most families will have the fruits as a centrepiece at the table and will have 12 fruits to represent the 12 months.
No fish or chicken may be eaten as they bring bad luck!
Money is not spent on the New Year because Filipinos believe this will mean your finances will be a shambles in the forthcoming year.
Children in the Philippines will jump high on New Year because they believe they will grow taller in the coming year if they do so.
Filipinos also leave their doors wide open on New Year’s Day to let in good and positive energy; and they don’t sweep any floors in case they chase these good spirits out.
They are encouraged to scream out loud when the clock strikes 12 to ward off evil spirits; and polka dots are normally worn on New Year’s Day to bring prosperity to the wearer. Peru
In Peru, three potatoes are hidden and picked at random when the clock strikes 12.
One potato is peeled, one is unpeeled and the last one is half peeled. The potatoes represent your finances. If you pick the peeled potato it means you will have financial trouble, an unpeeled one represents good finances and an half-peeled one will be a normal year of finances for you.
The colour you choose to wear also has a meaning.
Yellow represents good luck, while At New Year Danes eat Kransekage, a cake of layered rings of marzipan. white is for fertility and good health. Red is the symbol of love and green symbolises wealth and riches.
If you sprinkle rice around your house, you will bring good fortune and luck your way. Other people fill their pockets with lentils, cinnamon or wheat for luck and keep those ingredients in the kitchens for the remainder of the year.
Some Peruvians write five wishes on a piece of paper and then dip the paper in a glass of champagne to make them come true.
And in some villages around the country, people will fist-fight to settle disputes so they can leave their differences behind in the past.
Eat all the pork you can find on New Year’s in Bolivia, as this will bring you prosperity.
Because of their history, Bolivians also partake in the Spanish tradition of eating grapes at New Year, but add a wish for every grape they eat. They also wear their underwear backwards on the day.
People who wish to travel take their luggage to the door in the hope of making the wish happen.
Others count money when the clock strikes midnight to bring riches their way in the New Year or bake a coin into a cake. Whoever finds the coin will have good luck in the new year.
Ecuadorians set fire to paper-mâché figures named the Viejos. Construction of these figures is a family activity and setting them alight is a way of saying goodbye to the old year.
Some men will dress up in women’s clothing and mourn these burning figures and will only stop once they’re given money.
Once the Viejos have burnt down, celebrations commence on the streets with music and dancing.
Ecuadorians also partake in the grapeeating ritual and the colour of their underwear is determined by what they would like to receive in the New Year. Japan
Japanese people take their New Year’s celebrations very seriously. Decorations are put up and many people will place oranges in wreaths and New Year’s cards are exchanged.
Steamed fish and buckwheat noodles are eaten at New Year. The noodles are said to bring strength and resilience.
Bells will be rung from Buddish temples 108 times to represent the 108 human desires that cause suffering.
Last, but not least, some Japanese people travel to areas with a good view to watch the first sunrise of the year.