New Year immediately follows the awesomeness of Christmas. It has a lot to live up to.
As a child, I always loved New Year because it was like a second holiday straight after Christmas.
As an adult? I love it because it’s like a second holiday straight after Christmas!
Even though Christmas and New Year are celebrated just days apart, the mood is always so much different. Christmas is full of festive cheer, family gatherings, mistletoe, children’s giddy faces and eggnog, while New Year is full of lil-thought out resolutions, raucous parties, fruity punch and (in my case) missed countdowns.
I used to celebrate New Year the same way every year once I’d turned 18.
I am, however, a bit bored of doing the same thing all the time. So join me as I plot something different by looking at how New Year is celebrated in different countries around the world.
The Spanish tradition of welcoming in the New Year is also the same tradition that some Peruvian’s follow. This no doubt goes all the way back to the time when the Spanish visited South America and shared with them their at-times bizarre customs.
See, according to Spanish culture, it’s traditional to eat twelve grapes on New Year, so that you will have good luck for the next twelve months.
I’m unsure what happens if you miscount the grapes and end up with just eleven by mistake.
The Japanese are well-known for their eccentricity. If they’re not inventing robots that can play soccer, they’re beating each other up on TV game shows “for fun”.
Or they’re practising sumo wrestling and actually enjoying it.
But their New Year tradition is actually quite normal – for Japan anyway. On New Year, it is customary for some Japanese to decorate their houses with pine branches. Why? Because this branch symbolises longevity.
Sometimes they will also add a bamboo stalk to symbolise prosperity.
See? Perfectly normal. Now, where did I put my bamboo stalk …
Greece gave us Plato, Aristotle and democracy. Nowadays it just seems to give us bad economies.
However, Greece is a very proud nation that has lots of cool traditions. And one of them is a fascinating New Year tradition that they share with Norway.
Basically, some natives bake a loaf of bread on New Year with a coin inside. When someone slices it up, the hope is that the third slice will contain the coin. Why? Because it means that spring will come early.
Although it isn’t as though the Greek’s ever have to put up with harsh winters …
I love Sicily and have holidayed here a few times. But I’ve never been for Christmas or New Year, which up to now I regret.
However, there is still time. But their way of celebrating the New Year is disappointingly low-key and – surprise surprise – involves pasta.
Yup, for New Year’s Day, Sicilian’s – who are by their nature super superstitious – serve up lasagna.
Well, apparently they can’t serve up any other type of pasta except for lasagna on that day.
The Chinese New Year doesn’t land on January 1 (they always have to be so different, tut), but the Chinese still have a variety of interesting ways of welcoming in the New Year.
And, boy, do these guys really go to town.
Not content with simply getting in a bottle of vodka, loading up a few tunes on the iPod and inviting some friends around, the Chinese paint their front doors red because it symbolises happiness and good luck. Then, they prepare a huge feast but with a twist – knives are banned.
In fact, knives are banned for a whole 24 hours so that people wouldn’t be able to somehow accidentally cut themselves on New Year’s Day.
In Belgium, things get a bit literary. Children can’t just enjoy their Christmas presents for one more day, but instead have to write a letter to their parents.
They also have to decorate the cards with colours, angels and cherubs (yes, for real).
Then, they have to read the card aloud.
The Danes have probably not got over the fact that the Vikings clearly weren’t as hard-as-nails as everyone thought they were. It’s the only reason to explain why their way of celebrating New Year is downright bonkers.
On January 1, it’s customary in Denmark to throw dishes on someones – anyones apparently – doorstep.
Why? Because it guarantees them friends.
I guess it’s a great anecdote to tell people years later how you guys met. “So we met one morning after he threw dishes at my door because it was his cute way of saying hi.”
Okay, this one is crazy. In Estonia, some locals still follow the old tradition of eating up to twelve meals on New Year’s Eve.
Why? Because apparently it gives you the strength of twelve men for the rest of the year.
As opposed to the indigestion of an obese diabetic, I presume.
If you’re single this year, you might want to head over to Ireland, where they have a surefire way of meeting men.
On New Year’s Eve, all you need to do is place a sprig of mistletoe underneath your pillow.
A few days later, a tall, dark man will walk into your life.
(He’s probably the tax man)
Germany might be home to one of the world’s best-performing economies, but they still love a bit of eccentricity on New Year’s Eve. As well as eating lots of jam donuts, they also enjoy watching the 1920 British Cabaret play called Dinner For One.
Why? No idea.
To make matters worse, German television stations actually broadcast it in black and white, so that an entire nation feels as though it’s back in 1920. Funny!
We wish you a wonderful and amazingly Happy New Year!
May all your beautiful dreams come true!