Happy New Year! – New Year’s Traditions Around the World

by Brad Dison

Many of us make New Year’s Resolutions each year, which is the most popular of all New Year’s traditions.  Whether we keep them or not is a whole other matter entirely.  We kiss our partners at the stroke of midnight and sing “Auld Lang Syne.”  Many of us have grown up watching the ball drop in Time Square.  Die hard Louisianans watch the fleur de lis drop in New Orleans.  (At one time, rather than a fleur de lis, Louisianans dropped a big gumbo pot.)  We yell “Happy New Year” and be as noisy as we can be.  In the cell phone era, we send out as many text messages as we can to wish everyone a “Happy New Year.”  We do the obligatory Happy New Year post on whichever social media platform we prefer. 

Other traditions have fallen to the wayside. Have you ever heard of a New Year’s Tree?  This tradition was popular as recent as a couple of decades ago.  Rather than removing the beloved Christmas tree as soon as Christmas was over, people added decorations or redecorated the Christmas tree to make it a New Year’s Tree.  They attached notes with wishes for the New Year or with New Year’s Resolutions.  The New Year’s Tree became popular in communist Soviet Russia where Christmas celebrations and Christmas trees were banned. 

Here are some other New Year’s Traditions that you may not have been aware of:

  • In the Philippines, people celebrate the New Year by wearing polka dots for good luck.
  • In Brazil, people wear white for prosperity and good luck.  They also head to the beach to jump seven waves.  They get one wish per wave jumped.
  • In Russia, since Christmas festivities were banned, New Year’s became their gift-giving holiday.  Rather than Santa Claus, presents are delivered by Ded Moroz, or Father Frost, aided by his granddaughter, Snegourochka.
  • In Denmark, where broken dishes are seen as a good thing on New Year’s eve, people break dishes on the doorsteps of friends and family.  The more shards of glass, the better luck you will have.  They also stand on a chair and “Jump” into January at the stroke of midnight.
  • Like Denmark, some citizens in Turkey smash pomegranates on their doorsteps for good luck.
  • In Spain, revelers eat 12 grapes at midnight, one at each chime of a clock at midnight. 
  • In Greece, people hang bundles of onions, a symbol of good luck and prosperity, on their doors as an invitation to prosperity.  They also cook a coin inside a vasilopita, cake, or sweet bread.  The person who finds the coin is said to have good luck in the coming year.  (Some Scandinavian countries cook a coin inside a rice pudding.)
  • In Germany and Austria, people buy good luck charms such as pigs, mushrooms, clovers and chimney sweeps.  Some people buy edible good luck charms made from marzipan. 
  • In Ireland, celebrations include banging on the walls of their homes with “Christmas bread” to chase away bad spirits and to welcome in the New Year with a clean slate.
  • In Columbia, people grab empty suitcases in hand and run as fast as they can around the block or for a specified distance so the upcoming year will be filled with travel.
  • In Singapore, revelers send illuminated spheres, which contain their hopes and dreams, down the Singapore River.
  • In Puerto Rico, some throw a bucket of water out of a window as to wash away evil spirits.  They place sugar on their doorstep to welcome good spirits.

What are you your New Year’s Traditions?

Happy New Year from the Bienville Parish Journal!!!

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