New Year Traditions and Celebrations Around the World

new-year-in-sydneyNew Year is the time of the year where in we celebrate new life and prosperity. We follow traditions that we inherit from our old folks and to be pass on to the new generations. You might be wondering who started celebrating New Year. Four thousand years ago the New Year starts in March and the Babylonians started celebrating New Year during the Vernal Equinox. This is the time of the year wherein the amount sunlight is the same as the amount of darkness. For the Babylonians the New Year is an also a celebration for God Marduk who fought against the goddess of the sea Tiamat. In other countries they recognized New Year in a different way.

There are also other foods associated with New Year traditions. there is what they call lucky new year’s foods. Eating ham, pig or pork brings more food or good luck. Chicken and Turkeys are said to bring bad luck for the New Year. Legumes meant more coins and financial success. Ring shape cake or pastries symbolizes New Years full circle. You can eat rice pudding with almonds and find the nuts. If you found the nuts you will have 12 months of good fortune.

New Year in Egypt

In Egypt, New Year started after the yearly floods of Nile. For them it was important because the land of Sirius began to rise. During the 600 BC Egyptians used babies as a symbol of New Year. This is to honor the god of wine Dionysus and symbolizes fertility. A baby born in New Year joins the parade and receives gifts from business men. Up to no,w we still recognize first babies born in New Year but we don’t allow them to join the parade.

Chinese New Year

For Chinese they celebrate New Year during the second New Moon after the winter solstice. Chinese created fireworks to avoid the bad spirits and bring good luck. During Chinese New Year, they wear Red Colors and they select a group of men to entertain them with Dragon Dance.

New Year Around the World


In 8th Century BC Romulus who was the founder of Rome created a 10 month calendar and it was equivalent to 304 days. Numa Pampaillos added Januarius and Februarius as the first months of the year. They got the word name Januarius from Janus was the Roman God of beginnings. Julius Caesar declared January 1 as New Year after consulting with math and astrology experts of their time. They celebrated New Year by exchanging gifts and decorating houses with Laval Branches. The Christians soon recognized New Year after Pope Gregory XIII announced that Jan 1 is New Year’s Day in 1582. Christian’s belief that we should repent during the New Year and create a New Year’s Resolution to be a better person. Since then New Year’s celebration has spread the whole world with different traditions. And of course, the tradition of expressing New Year wishes to friends and loved ones also begun.

In 1796 Robert Burns a Scottish poet included the song Auld Lang Syne in his book which he heard from an old guy singing in Ayrshire, Scotland. This song of friendship was sung by Guy Lombardo in 1929 at Waldorf Astoria and became a popular and traditionally sang every New Year. Another tradition of the Scottish is the “First Foot”. The first guy (preferably with dark hair because blonde hair is associated with Vikings) has to bring coal for fire in the house, coin which symbolizes prosperity, whisky to give cheers or bread would mean more food. If China uses fireworks to drive the spirits away for Scottish men they would use fireballs instead.

New Year in America

New Year meant freedom for African Americans who became slaves of bondage. It was proclaimed as Emancipation Day or Jubilee Day on January 1, 1863 in Boston and they continue to “watch services every New Year. African Americans also celebrates Kwanzaa to socialize and serve their traditional foods like the black eyed peas, collared greens, ham hocks and cabbage for good luck and fortune.

In 1886 people in Pasadena California started celebrating New Year with Rose Parade prior to the football game event.

America’s memorable tradition was the dropping of the ball in New York Time’s Square. The tradition started in 1907 and people continue to gather around the Time Square to watch the event.

New Year Traditions in Different Regions

Spain – Spanish believes that if you want to have abundance you have to eat grapes at 12 in the midnight.

Danish – Danish loves to jump of the chair to remove the bad spirits in their houses.

San Paolo and La Paz – People from these places are careful in wearing underwear. They wanted to wear underwear that would represent the color of what they wish to have during New Year. They will wear red underwear for the hope of finding their love one. Wearing yellow underwear would mean more money for them and white underwear means peace.

Panama – During New Year they would burn the relics of a popular person. They call these figures as effigies or Muñecos. For them burning these effigies will cast the spirit away.

Philippines – Filipino traditions includes wearing clothes with polka dot design. Polka dot designs symbolize money. They would also collect 12 round fruits for health and more money.

Belarus – Predicting the love life or the marriage of the single women was Belarus New Year’s tradition. They predict marriage with several games. One of these games is Pile Corn. Each singe women will stand in front of a pile. A man will hold the rooster until the single women are positioned. Once the single ladies are ready the man will let go of the rooster. The lady standing in front of the first pile corn the rooster eats will be the first lady to get married.

Finland – Finnish predicts their future by melting a tin in a container with water. Once the melted tin has dropped in the water and formed its shape they will interpret the shape. Ring shape means wedding. If they saw a ship it would mean that the person will travel. A pig shape on the other hand means plenty of food for the New Year.

Japan – For Japanese they celebrate the New Year with a singing competition. They call it “Kohaku Uta Gassen” which meant Red and White song battle. Two teams will compete and battle for the best singer. The audience will judge who will win the competition.

Estonia – Every New Year they eat seven times a day to achieve abundance. They believed that if you eat seven times during New Year you will have strength of seven men.

Whichever we celebrate new year it can give us new hope that there will be more blessings, more money and more luck.

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