New Year Traditions
As we begin a new year, it is interesting to find out how other countries and cultures celebrate it.
Romanians mark new year by donning bear costumes and furs, and dancing from house to house, in an attempt to keep evil at bay. Other jamborees include “the dance of the goat”, symbolising the death and rebirth of nature, with performers wearing a goat’s head mask covered in fur and complete with real horns.
In Stonehaven, Scotland, there is a custom of parading through the streets on New Year’s Eve while swinging blazing balls of fire around. The tradition traces its roots back to the Vikings.
St Mark’s Square in Venice is known for holding not only a big firework display over the Basin of St Mark but for something far more unusual – a mass kiss-in.
Revellers seeing in the new year in Spain have their mouths full in a traditional attempt to stuff 12 grapes in at once – one for each chime of the clock during the countdown.
Locals in Talca, central Chile, like to see in the new year in the company of their dead relatives. Thought to have begun when a family broke in one year to be near their dead father, the town mayor now opens the graveyard after late-night mass and thousands sit surrounded by candles while classical music plays.
Food is a big aspect of New Year tradition in Hungary. A dinner of roast pork or kocsonya (cold pork aspic) on New Year’s Eve is supposed to bring a bountiful year as the pork’s rich fat symbolizes prosperity and wealth. But Hungarians avoid eating chicken and fish on New Year’s Eve and Day – winged fowl are supposed to symbolise luck flying away, and fish suggest luck swimming away.
The big New Year’s Eve tradition in Denmark involves smashing plates against your friends’ front doors. It’s a measure of popularity to find a heap of broken china on the doorstep at midnight – according to the tradition, this brings good luck, so the more smashed plates, the more you’ll get. It’s also tradition to jump off a chair at the stroke of midnight – symbolising the leap into the New Year.
Do you have any unusual New Year traditions to share?