Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years Traditions Around the World

Around the world, the New Year is filled with many symbolic traditions.

Here in the United States, the most famous tradition is the dropping of the ball in Times Square. Each year at 11:59 P.M. thousands gather to watch the ball make its one-minute descent, arriving exactly at midnight. The tradition first began in 1907. The original ball was made of iron and wood; the current ball is made of Waterford Crystal, weighs 1,070 pounds, and is six feet in diameter.

In Japan, people thoroughly clean their homes on New Years Eve in case the New Year's God pays them a visit. Buddhist Temples in Japan strike gongs 108 times to expel the 108 types of human weakness.

The Dutch make bonfires from their Christmas trees to expel the old and welcome the new.

First-footing is an ancient European New Year’s custom that continues into the present in many areas. The first person to enter a home after midnight on the first day of the year should be a male, preferably with dark hair. Blondes may have been associated with Vikings – visitors who never brought good luck. The first-footer should carry a gift, such as a coin for prosperity, bread for food, salt for flavor, or whiskey to represent good cheer. The first-footer can be a resident of the house, but must not be inside during the hour leading up to midnight.

Austria has one of the most glamorous New Year’s celebrations. At the Imperial Ball, a tradition of the Hapsburg dynasty that has continued for hundreds of years, dancers wear white gowns and black jackets. At midnight, “The Blue Danube,”is played. The Strauss operetta, “Die Fledermaus, is performed each New Year’s Day

Noisemaking and fireworks began in ancient times as a way to dispel evil spirits. Of course, this tradition continues around the world to this day.

Many of the world's most interesting New Year's traditions revolve around eating. The food represents wealth, prosperity, forward motion, long life and happiness.

The Spanish and Portuguese eat twelve grapes - one grape each time the clock chimes. This symbolizes the twelve months of the new year.

People around the world consider pork to be the luckiest food to eat on New Year's Day. Pigs are rotund, which represents prosperity. They also "root forward" with their noses, which is supposed to symbolize progress. Yes, bacon counts!

In Greece, a pomegranate is smashed on the floor in front of the door to break it open. The seeds represent prosperity and good fortune. The more seeds, the more luck you will have in the months ahead.

In Japan Soba noodles are eaten. These long buckwheat noodles symbolize long life, and are therefore lucky - but only if you eat them without chewing or breaking them.

The Greek bake a special lemon-flavored cake called a Vasilopita or St Basil's Cake. It's baked with a silver or gold coin inside. Whoever finds the coin gets a year of good luck.

In the Southern United States, it's traditional to eat black-eyed peas or cowpeas in a dish called Hoppin' John. There are even those who believe in eating one pea for every day in the new year. This traces back to the legend that during the Civil War, the town of Vicksburg, Mississippi, ran out of food while under attack. The residents fortunately discovered black-eyed peas and the legume was thereafter considered lucky.

Traditional wisdom warns that it's best to avoid certain food. Lobster, for instance, is a bad idea because they move backwards and could therefore lead to setbacks. Chicken is discouraged because the bird scratches backwards, which could cause regret or dwelling on the past. Another theory warns against eating any winged fowl because good luck could fly away.

Whether you follow any of these traditions or have a few of your own - all of us at Pryor Events wish you a happy, healthy and memorable 2012.

1 comment:

  1. Great article as always. Had fun reading it. Will definitely forward to friends.