New Year's Eve Around the World

Amancay Tapia

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New Year’s Eve is usually a time for celebration amongst family and friends sharing the excitement about what lies ahead. Around the world, countries welcome the change of the calendar with distinctive New Year’s traditions, let's look at some of them.

In the United States, Americans watch the ball drop in Times Square, sing "Auld Lang Syne" and kiss a loved one when the clock strikes midnight. Many of us also welcome the New Year with a glass of champagne or a cocktail.

In Spain, with 12 seconds remaining until the New Year, people eat 12 grapes to bring good fortune. Each grape represents good luck for one month of the coming year.

This tradition began at the beginning of the 20th century by grape producers to get rid of their excess produce. Ever since, the custom has spread to many Spanish-speaking nations and blossomed into a much-loved tradition in the European nation.

In Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador and Venezuela as well as some Central America countries, it is thought that wearing special underwear on New Year’s Eve, will bring you good fortune. Wearing yellow underwear will bring you wealth, and red underwear, love.The Brazilians mainly celebrate dressed all in white as that will bring them good luck and peace. In Bolivia, June 21st is also a New Year celebration, the Aymara New Year.

The Dannish say hello to the New Year by smashing a plate against the doors of family and friends.The more plates you smash, the more good fortune you will bring and receive in the coming year. Who would have thought that the creators of "hygge" would go all unrestrained on New Year’s Eve?

Greece is all about onions. The evening of December 31st many Greeks hung onions on their front doors. The onion is used as a symbol of rebirth, longevity and luck. On New Year’s Day, the children of the family are gently touched on the head with the onion, so they can wake up and attend the church service for “Saint Vassilis" (Greek Santa).

In the Philippines, it is tradition to gather 12 different round fruits in your home in New Year’s Eve, this will bring happiness and good fortune.They have to be round as it represents wealth and prosperity. Filipinos also like to wear anything with polka dots during the celebrations.

In Scotland, the Scots call New Year's Eve,"Hogmanay". The origins of this celebration date back to the Vikings celebrating the winter solstice. In Edinburgh, there is a legendary torchlight procession, the famous Hogmanay street party and fireworks.

In South Africa, they used to throw old furniture out of the window to kick off the New Year. This tradition is not so popular nowadays and instead there are plenty of firework displays and non-stop parties. The main celebrations take place in Cape Town, the city holds an incredible carnival with singing, dancing and music.

New year’s eve in Japan is called "Oshogatsu" and it is marked by all the bells in the country getting rung 108 times.This is in line with the Buddhist belief of bringing purity into the new year. Just before midnight on New Year’s Eve, the Japanese eat the Toshikoshi soba noodles.The tradition dates back to the 17th century, and the long noodles symbolise longevity and prosperity.

Austria and Germany celebrate “Sylvesterabend”, or the eve of Saint Sylvester. Austrians drink a delicious punch with cinnamon and spices and decorate the table with tiny pigs made of marzipan, called "marzipanschwein".

Vienna bakeries this time of year will be filled with a great selection of pig-shaped sweets.These good luck pigs, or Glücksschwein, are common gifts in both Austria and Germany.

In Australia, there is the famous Sydney Harbour spectacular fireworks display, some lucky Aussies do hire a boat for the celebrations, bring their own drinks and food and watch the countdown from their boats. G’day mate!

In the capital of Lebanon, Beirut, also known as the “Paris of the Middle East”, celebrations take place till after dawn. Place de l’Etoile (Nejmeh Square) famous for its Art Deco design, is the place to be. On any New year’s Eve (except NYE 2020 of course) it is packed with people who gather at the square to join the festivities; music, dance, and good vibes are in abundance here.

Whichever way you are spending this New Year’s Eve, whether in company or alone, the best thing to have is a positive attitude towards what’s to come. Happy New Year!

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