New Year's traditions around the world
Discover how New Year's is celebrated internationally.Japan
Families gather and have traditional foods such as soba or Japanese noodles. At midnight, many famous temples ring 108 sounds with their bells. This number is derived from an old belief that there are 108 human desires regarding the senses, feelings and time. Japanese people believe that the ringing of 108 bells will erase these desires and purify the heart.
On New Year's Day, the Japanese drink three mouthfuls of sake from traditional Japanese ceramic cups, in order of age in the family. Then they eat rice cake and a Japanese soup called Zouni.
Afterwards, the family travels to the temple to make New Year's wishes. Children are given presents in the form of money with which they can buy what they choose. Greeting cards are sent in December to arrive at friends and families homes on the first of January.
New Year's is a very important holiday in Japan and symbolizes renewal and new opportunity.
New Year's traditions around the world continue in Vietnam where New Year's is referred to as Lunar New Year's. This holiday happens every year in February and in the month before. Vietnamese families prepare by cleaning their houses and filling them with fresh flowers, cakes, fruits, sweetmeats and lotus seeds.
At midnight, people travel to pagodas to pray to Buddha and then the old and young go to see Chinese dragon dances and fireworks. The next morning, it is traditional for children to wish their parents happy New Year; afterwards, the parents give them presents of money in red envelopes. Then the family eats cake and fruit – especially watermelon, which is a special fruit during Vietnamese New Year's.
New Year's in Australia is celebrated on Jan. 1 and many families enjoy the day by having picnics on the beach. New Year's Eve is celebrated much the same as it is in America, with parties and streamers, confetti fireworks and wishes for a happy New Year.
In Belgium, New Year's Eve, or Sint Sylvester Vooranvond or Saint Sylvester Eve, is celebrated with parties, champagne toasts much the same way as it is in America.
New Year's Day, or Nieuwjaarsdag, is celebrated by children writing holiday greetings to parents and godparents.
Belgium farmers wish their animals a happy New Year in order to ensure blessings for their livelihood.
New Year's, or Hogmany, is celebrated with first footing, where neighbors pay visits to one another's homes to wish them happy New Year's and bring gifts of shortbread.
The Scottish consider it a good omen for the year if a tall, handsome man enters the home before anyone else once the New Year has begun.
In Greece, New Year's Day is also called the festival of St. Basil, one of the founders of the Greek Orthodox Church. The Greeks celebrate by eating traditional foods such as Vassilopitta, or St. Basil's cake. This cake has a silver or gold coin baked inside it and it is believed that whoever finds the coin will have good luck in the upcoming year.
Around the World
While New Year's traditions around the world differ between countries and across oceans, some traditions are observed by many places. These include resolutions. It is believed that resolutions were first made in Babylon and people the world over have been making them since. Early Christians believed that the first day of the New Year should be spent thinking of past mistakes and promising to improve oneself in the months to come.
Another tradition that is practiced around the world is fireworks. This form of entertainment began in the ancient times when it was believed that noise and fire could scare away evil spirits.
No matter how you celebrate, New Year's traditions around the world are rich in culture and custom and bring fun and camaraderie to all who celebrate.