New Year’s Eve celebrations around the world - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

New Year’s Eve celebrations around the world

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By Sabina Dana Plasse

The history behind New Year's Eve traditions goes much further back than the ubiquitous countdown to midnight. New Year's Eve traditions have been observed by the world over with many traditions embraced globally and many still country-bound. Historically, the Romans worshipped Janus, the goddess of gates, doors and new beginnings, which is why January is the first month of the year. Janus had two faces, one to look backward and one to look forward. Perhaps a pagan tradition from the beginning, New Year's Eve celebrations started as a time to exchange gifts and have drinks or enjoy a feast.

Common New Year's Eve Celebrations

New Year's Eve has more traditions than many people may realize. It's time for a new calendar, year-in-reviews, resolutions and future predictions. In addition, New Year's Eve around the world is often celebrated with fireworks. Traditions in many nations are to gather on beaches and dive into water as a type of ceremony to start off with a clean start to the New Year. Often known as polar bear dives, these have become a charity event for the New Year.

New Year's Eve Traditions In Greece

In Greece, lights will be switched off at midnight with a celebration of the cutting of "vassilopita" or Basil's pie, which will have a coin embedded. Whoever gets the coin will have luck for the whole year. Saint Basil is considered to be a forefather in the Greek Orthodox Church and New Year's Day in Greece is Saint Basil's Day, one of the most important dates of the year for Greeks.

New Year's Eve Traditions In The Philippines

In the Philippines, a firework display and large amounts of noise at New Year's Eve are said to scare away evil spirits and prevent bad luck for the coming year. Around the Philippines, many people will hold a midnight meal celebration with a basket of 12 different round fruits representing prosperity for each month of the New Year.

New Year's Eve Traditions In France

In France, the French believe the weather is a prediction of the New Year. Wind blowing east is good for fruit crops, wind blowing west is good for fishing and livestock production, wind blowing south will predict a good year of weather and wind blowing north signifies crop failure. In addition, French people believe all the wine from the last year must be consumed in order to have a beautiful New Year.

New Year's Eve Traditions In The United States

It's tradition to make a New Year's resolution, especially in the U.S. and watch on television a spectacularly lit crystal ball drop in Times Square in New York City. Many events include live music for New Year's Eve, as well as extravagant parties. In the U.S., there are many traditions for good luck for the New Year such as eating Hoppin' John, black-eyed beans, drinking champagne and giving kisses at the stroke of midnight.

New Year's Eve Traditions In India

In India, Hindu New Year is a festive time where people meet and greet as well as share gifts and delicious treats. In addition, houses will be painted and lit with lamps and candles. It's also time for harvest.

New Year's Eve Traditions In The United Kingdom

A New Year's Eve tradition in Great Britain called "First Footing" is a custom where a family or home is blessed with good luck if a tall, dark and good-looking man walks through the door at the arrival of the New Year. He needs to carry a piece of a coal, a loaf of bread and a bottle of whiskey when he arrives and cannot speak until he places the coal on a fire, serves a drink to the head of the household and wishes everyone a happy New Year. In addition, the man needs to leave through the back door to complete the tradition properly.

New Year's Eve Traditions In China

One of the most notable New Year's Eve traditions is the colorful and famous Chinese New Year or "Yuan Tan." Although the Chinese New Year is based on a lunar calendar and falls anywhere between January 1 and February 19, the New Year is celebrated with the beating of drums and cymbals, and fireworks, which are supposed to keep away evil spirits and bring fortune. Chinese people will also exchange red envelopes with gold coins.

New Year's Eve Traditions In Denmark

A very different tradition for New Year's Eve in Denmark is to throw old dishes in the entrance of a home. The more broken dishes at the doorway the more friends you have, which is good luck. Also, Danish people will serve kale with sugar and cinnamon with white sauce, which is a favorite Danish dish for New Year's Eve.

More New Year's Eve Celebrations Around The World

In Australia, suckling pigs are considered to bring good luck and are served as a traditional New Year's dish. In Spain, people will consume 12 grapes with each stroke of the clock at midnight to bring good luck for the 12 months to come. In Japan, Japanese people will decorate their houses with pine branches, bamboo stalks and plum blossoms for longevity, prosperity and noble respect.

New Year's Eve is celebrated around the world with a variety of traditions. Try creating your own, or combine traditions from around the world to make your own New Year's special this year.

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