The new year around the world
By Bryan Goodland
Another new year is upon us. For many that means New Year’s Eve parties, fireworks and maybe even the clink of a champagne glass. However you choose to celebrate, the styles and choices you make are often based on where you live. With that in mind, here are some ways that people around the world celebrate a brand new year and the opportunities that come with it.
Before we look at modern celebrations, let’s look back at where it all started. New Year’s Eve is often thought of as a new beginning, a chance to start fresh with a whole new year. The tradition began thousands of years ago. The Babylonian culture is the first recorded people to celebrate the new year, although they did it in March, in accordance with the new moon. They are also credited with making resolutions for the new year, although they did it for different reasons. Another historic figure in the formation of the new year, was Julius Caesar. He would change the calendar, making January 1 the beginning of the year.
In modern times, celebrations have stuck to the January 1 date and involve a wide variety of ways to celebrate. Many countries around the world have celebrations revolving around different types of food. In Spain for instance, revelers eat 12 green grapes in the hopes of having good luck for each month of the new year. In Italy, participants will eat lentils which symbolize coins and the hope for prosperity in the new year. Other places like Portugal and Cuba celebrate with pork, as the pig is a sign of someone doing well financially. Cakes, candies and goodies are used throughout the world to celebrate, but one unique tradition comes out of Norway. The Norwegians serve dishes of rice pudding and ensconced within one dish is an almond. Whoever is lucky enough to find it, can be assured 12 months of good fortune.
Along with food, people around the world gather together and celebrate the new year with events. In the U.S., the most famous gathering is probably the ball drop in New York’s Times Square. The tradition started in 1907 and is watched around the world to this day. Across the pond in England, they celebrate with fireworks and thousands gather at the river Thames to hear Big Ben ring in the latest year. In Russia, New Year’s Eve is considered one of the biggest holidays. Similar to American celebrations, there are fireworks, concerts and parties after the clock strikes midnight.
However you choose to ring in the new year, you will be in good company around the world. You can also incorporate some of these traditions to give your New Year’s Eve celebrations a more worldly flavor.