New Year's Celebrations Around the World
A new year is certainly a time to celebrate. Another year has passed, and whether it was good or bad, there is a brand new one to offer a fresh, new start toward reaching goals and experiencing new healthy and prosperous opportunities.
As the clock strikes midnight on the calendar year, people around the world spend the time with people they love, reflecting on the past year and being hopeful for the new one. Of course, the world also puts on quite a display with fireworks shooting from iconic settings like the Sydney Opera House, London's Parliament and New York CIty's Time Square, famous for its Swavorski crystal ball drop countdown.
But there are many more traditions for celebrating a new year, including those who celebrate with a different calendar. Here is a look at festive New Year's celebrations and traditions enjoyed around the globe.
An Nou Fericit!
Romania's New Year celebrations are filled with costumes and folklore in mask-dances. The main characters of the theatrical event are a gypsy and a bear. The bear and the dramatic accompanying drum beats are used to chase away evil spirits and symbolize the passage of time.
Bears are good luck symbols in the country, and this dance is to Romanians what the ball drop is to Americans.
Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu!
To dispel the evil in Japan, the temples across the nation ring their bells 108 times. According to Buddhism, humans have 108 evil passions, and this ringing is meant to cleanse the people of all of their sins for the new year.
This tradition is called joyanokane, which is followed by 107 bells that are rung again on New Year's Day.
Feliz Ano Novo!
In Brazil, where colorful clothes are traditionally the norm, New Year's Eve is all about white. The wearing of white is considered a cleanse and begins the new year with purity.
The tradition pairs with honoring Yemanja, the Goddess of the Sea, who watches over the fishermen. During a festival honoring her, revelers in white party and dance all night, and when morning comes, they run into the ocean and jump over seven waves — you get one wish for each wave.
In Israel, the Jewish people celebrate two New Year's: one along with the rest of the world on Dec. 31 and the other at the start of the Hebrew calendar.
Known as Rosh Hashanah ("head of year"), the fall celebration begins with the blowing of the shofar and leads into the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur. On this day, apples dipped in honey are enjoyed to celebrate good health and the sweetness of a new year.
The last day of the year in Scotland is known as Hogmanay. It is celebrated with fire, which is used to ward off evil. Dating back to the Vikings, bonfires are part of the fun and the last Tuesday of January ends with a firey march during a day known as Up Helly Aa.
The first foot into a Scottish house after midnight should be that of a dark-haired man bearing coal, salt, shortbread, a Scottish fruitcake known as a black bun and a wee dram of whisky if you want good luck — a tradition known as First Footing.
Gleðilegt Nýtt Ar!
Bonfires are also part of Iceland's New Year's traditions. Called Armotabrenna, they are also part of a cleansing of the past.
Held on the Thirteenth Night after Christmas, the Threttandinn, folklore suggests mischief takes place on this night. The Elf King and Queen visit the bonfires and help to keep the island in peace, which is why songs of elves are sung throughout the night.
The Chinese also enjoy two New Year's celebrations. Of course, they will celebrate the passing of the traditional calendar, but the Chinese New Year is celebrated over 15 days in February, following its Lunar calendar. Every year is devoted to an animal of the Chinese zodiac.
The tradition is also celebrated in Vietnam (Tet Nguyen Dan), Korea, (Seollal), Tibet (Losar) and other Asian countries.
Sa Was Dee Pee Mai!
Prepare to get wet during the celebration of the new year in Thailand. Known as Songkran, this Buddhist festival takes place April 13 through 15.
Water is an important part of the celebration, so people roam with buckets of water and water pistols to splash you as part of the fun and cleansing for the upcoming year.
Feliz Año Nuevo!
Believing that it's best to set fire to all the evils from the past, people in Ecuador create large dolls (scarecrows more like it) that they burn in effigy on New Year's Eve.
The Año Viejo dolls are shaped to resemble real people but not in a creepy voodoo way.
Feliz Año Nuevo!
The Bolivians do not burn their dolls, known as Ekeko dolls. Instead, they make a wish to their doll and then hang it outside of their home for good luck and wishes to come true.
That is because Ekeko is the God of Abundance and Wealth. The dolls are made of clay, and you can place your wishes inside for safekeeping. The Alasitas festival is held every Jan. 24 in La Paz in his honor.
Athbhliain Faoi Mhaise Duit!
Just before midnight strikes in Ireland, open the back door and let the old year out. (Some even bang on the walls — with a loaf of bread — to help chase out the year.)
Then, as the clock finishes striking, open the front door to let the new year in ... and to say "Happy New Year" to your neighbors!
Frohes Neues Jahr!
You may have heard of reading tea leaves, but in Germany, it's lead that gets a reading during New Year's Eve.
Residents melt lead in a spoon over a candle and drop it into cold water to harden. The shape it makes determines your fate. A ball is luck, a crown is wealth, a star is happiness and a cross, well, let's just say you don't want that in your cup.
This tradition is known as Bleigiessen, and kits are sold to make it easy to do at home.
Feliz Año Nuevo!
After this year, you may be quick to partake in Colombia's New Year's Eve tradition.
Take your empty suitcase for a walk around the block, and you'll be guaranteed to travel in the New Year.
Feliz Año Nuevo!
In Spain, to ensure good luck for the year, eat 12 grapes at midnight. Have one at each strike of the clock, with the last grape on the final strike of 12.
The grapes are followed up with champagne — salud!
Eftychisméno To Néo Etos!
If you stroll through a Greecian town on New Year's Eve, you'll spot onions hanging on the doors. It is believed the onions bring new growth, prosperity and happiness.
Another sign of prosperity along with fertility is connected to the pomegranate. Someone with a good heart smashes a pomegranate on the door ... the number of seeds that land on the floor, the more luck you'll have!
For the Dutch, you'll find plenty of donuts on hand to be eaten as you the year comes full circle, just like the donut!
Called Oliebollen, these donuts balls are often dipped in powdered sugar or cinnamon and are a tradition in Dutch-influenced communities.
Feliz Año Nuevo!
New Year's Eve is a day to spend with loved ones. In Chile, that means even those who are no longer with us.
In the city of Talca, residents spend the night at the graveyard beside their deceased family and friends to bring peace and enjoy a lucky new year.
Happy New Year!
Called Watch Night in Jamaica, New Year's Eve is mainly spent at church on this Caribbean island, where locals attend a night service into the wee hours.
By attending church, the people believe they have cleansed their souls for the new year.
Ethiopia also uses a different calendar, the Coptic calendar, so they celebrate the New Year on Sept. 11 with a three-day celebration called Enkutatash.
On the eve of the celebrations, torches are burned in front of homes, and the entire festival consists of feasts, hymns, processions and church services.
Selamat Tahun Baru!
If you visit Bali during the new year, you may notice something unusual: silence.
The Balinese celebrate New Year's over six days, the third of which is Nyepi, meaning to keep silent. Stores are closed, no flights go in or out, lights and candles are put out (unless in a hotel where window shades are drawn), cars do not travel ... and even the Internet is turned off!
The day before the silence, however, is the Ngrupuk parade with the giant evil spirits known as the "ogoh-ogoh."
To celebrate the new year in Denmark, loved ones break dishes on your doorstep. The more broken dishes, the more friends, and it is a wish of good luck in the new year.
Another tradition is to jump off of chairs at midnight. Some may even combine the two!
Why toss dishes when you can toss furniture? Or anything else you can think of to start your year fresh in Italy?
Coincidentally, it's also a thing in South Africa.
Chestita Nova Godina!
Not only will you get to eat the delish filo pastry layered with cheese, but you'll find wishes and fortunes baked inside.
The Bulgarian Banitsa bake this traditional food with a coin and papers with wishes written to bring them to fruition in the new year.
Feliz Año Nuevo!
When midnight strikes in Guatemala, grab 12 pennies, for a tradition that will bring you wealth and prosperity.
You leave the house and, with it behind you, face the street and toss the pennies behind you, just as you may toss a penny over your shoulder into a fountain or well to make a wish.
Head Uut Aastat!
You may want to fast for a few days leading up to New Year's Eve in Estonia. The residents here will eat a minimum of seven feasts!
The people believe that eating well will give you the strength of seven men. The more meals — up to 12 — also means you won't go hungry in the new year.
Navavarsh Kee Shubhakaamanaen!
The Indian New Year is celebrated in a festival of lights known as Diwali. The five-day Hindu festival honors Rama-chandra, an incarnation of the god Vishnu.
The festival celebrates Rama-chandra's defeat over evil and begins the new year on the Hindu calendar, which is often in October or November.
Maligayang Bagong Taon!
You'll spot a trend in the Philippines on New Year's Eve. To promote good fortune, things that are round are key. Women and men wear polka dots on their clothing, the table is adorned with round fruits, and coins are spread around the house and fill the pockets.
Other traditions include eating lots of sticky rice, which means your family will stick together in the new year.
Happy New Year!
The very-first ball drop in New York's Times Square took place in 1907. Today, the entire world watches as the 12-foot, 11,875-pound ball covered in 2,688 crystals drops for a full minute, completing its fall on New Year's Day.
Other American cities have created their own unique ball drops, such as Atlanta's Peach Drop; Boise, Idaho's Potato Drop; and even a giant Peep Drop in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Happy New Year!
In the American South, good luck can be had if you eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day. And, if you really want to make it count, have a pea for each day of the year.
The tradition dates back to the Civil War when African American slaves were emancipated on New Year's Day. For wealth, load up on collard greens.
Muslim people in several countries celebrate the Islamic New Year, or Hijri, on the day Mohammad and his followers made their way from Mecca to Medina.
It is celebrated differently by the Shiites and the Sunnis. For the Shiites, it is a period of mourning of Mohammed's cousin and successor to the prophet. (It is what caused the split between the two sects.) Meanwhile, the Sunnis celebrate like most celebrate New Year's: with family and a day of reflection.