New Year Celebration Traditions in Five Countries
Traditions linked with wishing Happy New Year
People observe end of the year and celebrate to welcome the New Year enthusiastically all over the world. Celebrations are not restricted to the day but in many countries people keep themselves engaged for many days before and after the midnight countdown. Some stay at home and try to make the best use of the time by watching television shows, drinking and feasting with family members and friends. But there are many who venture out and participate in different activities in big gatherings including fireworks.
There are many commonalities in the celebrations but there are some cultural specific customs and traditions followed strictly. In the process, these cultural traditions and customs are transitioned from the old to the new generations.
This Hub presents traditions being followed in 5 countries.
New Year Traditions in Germany
In Germany Berlin plays the host for the largest celebrations on the eve of the New Year (Silvester). Brandenburg Gate is central for midnight firework.
German do the toasting of the New Year with a glass of sparkling wine called Sekt or champagne. Berliner, jam-filled doughnuts with or without liquid fillings are also eaten during this celebrations.
Many people enjoy 'Dinner for One', a short English comedy play which is being telecast by television stations since 1972 and holds a Guinness Book record for being the most frequently telecast TV Show.
Good luck for the New Year is ensured by consuming tiny marzipan pig.
One of the very interesting traditions in Germany is Bleigießen in which molten lead is dropped into cold water and the shape evolving out of it is used for fortune telling for the New Year.
Touching a chimney sweep or rubbing some ash on forehead is also a custom inviting good luck and health.
Making of Speck 'n Dicken is another interesting feature. It is like a pancake, some call it 'Old Year pancake' and its taste varies as per ingredients people use. Dark corn molasses or Karo with summer sausage and bacon in the center is served when people visit neighbourhood for sharing this dish.
Berlin has a very busy night life but New Year celebrations continue till dawn as so may special events are organised by hotels, restaurants and clubs.
New Year Celebration 2017, Berlin, Germany
Traditions at New Year celebrations in Philippines
Perhaps the most traditional ritual Philipinos will do on the eve of New Year is Media Noche. It is a midnight meal shared by family memebrs. Thrill lies in the family union and atmsophere created for celebration. As a part of this 12 round fruit are also served, each fruit represents one month. This tradition of feasting symbolises good luck and hopes for prosperity in the coming year.
It is traditional to makes noises to greet the New Year. People use all sort of items like banging on pots and pans, blowing car horns, whistling, trumpets, plastic horns (torotots), even radio at full volume and what not. The belief is that these actions drive away evil spirits and bad luck.
Two other traditions are quite interesting. At the stroke of the mid-night children are asked to jump 12 times believing that it can increase their height. Also wearing new and colourful clothes with polka dots or other circular designs is common. It symbolises money and good fortune in the coming year.
The Spanish tradition of eating twelve grapes, one for good luck for each month is still followed in Philippines.
There is custom to keep lights on and all windows and doors open on the eve of New Year to let blessings and prosperity in.
Money in abundance symbolises prosperity. Therefore, keeping enough money in the pockets and wallets is customary. Some believe in throwing coins to invite prosperity in the new year.
New Year Traditions in Mexico
Mexico is known for colourful celebration of the New Year and there are numerous traditions associated with it.
Mexican decorate their homes and party places with different colours. Each of the four colours used in decoration has a significance. Red signifies love and an overall improvement in lifestyle, green for financial betterment, white brings in improvement of health and yellow for improvement in employment.
Another interesting tradition is enlisting the bad happening during the year and throwing the list in the fire at midnight. This actual means the negative energy of the past year is not carried in the new year.
Ceremony of cutting sweet bread with coin hidden in dough while baking brings in good luck for the New Year to someone who is served with that lucky coin.
One of the most popular tradition is eating grapes at midnight. When the midnight countdown starts people eat one grape with each of the 12 chimes of the bell and make a wish with each chime.
Traditions in Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year celebrations is perhaps the most traditional in many ways. It is based on lunisolar Chinese calendar. The date falls between late January to early February and the celebrations last for 15 days.
Chinese are known for exchanging gifts during New Year celebrations. While visiting friends and relatives gifts like cakes, chocolates and candies are exchanged. Even more important is a gift of traditional red envelope which usually contains money in even numbers. Such envelopes are called Angpau, are handed over by married to the unmarried and also by adults to children. These envelopes are kept under pillows for seven days and it is believed that it brings good luck and fortunes.
Chinese homes are thoroughly cleaned before start of the celebrations and nicely decorated.
Chinese have a traditional dinner during celebrations. Some avoid eating meat on the first day. Noodles, chicken, fish and desserts form a part of special dinners. They also believe in consuming tradional liquor Jiu for longevity. Good luck comes because of red chilies and for harmony rice is a special item during such dinners.
Most of the Chinese wear new clothes during this period is linked with new beginning of the year. Most preferred colour is red as it symbolises good luck, fortune and happiness. It is also believed that this colour help to keep the evil spirits and bad luck away. Some people wear golden coloured clothes also but black is avoided.
Fireworks are very common on this occasion. Firecrackers are hung down on a long fused string and these crackers are traditionally rolled up in red papers as red is considered to be an auspicious colour. There are loud sounds which are believed to scare the bad spirits away.These are also a part of decoration in some homes for the same reason.
Australia is considered to be a preferred destination for new year celebration by many because of the extended six day celebrations in the country. There is a lot of enthusiasm throughout Australia but Sydney and Melbourne are two major attractions.
Sydney Harbour Bridge is the focal point for fireworks. There are two pyrotechnic shows - Family Fireworks at 9.00 pm followed by Midnight Fireworks.These spectacular display of 80000 fireworks make an unforgettable experience in life time.This can be seen in a 16 kms radius. The synchronisation of popular music and light display make these shows extraordinary. Millions watch it live or telecast all over the world.
Similar celebrations are done at Melbourne also. The fireworks here are released from boats at Yarra River and from the top of the skyscrapers of the city. In addition, Melbourne is also famous for parties and there is a great rush in restaurants, pubs and hotels and enjoy special dinners and buffets.