Last week we discovered how Christmas is celebrated around the world. With the festive season officially behind us, let’s look at how to different countries mark the most celebrated global holiday, New Year:
Australia (Happy New Year!)
Australian celebrations include New Year’s Eve balls, cruises and beach parties. The holiday is especially popular in Sydney, which hosts the most watched New Year celebrations in the world, with more than one billion viewers tuning in worldwide to see the massive firework display over the Harbour.
Belgium (Gelukkig nieuwjaar!)
While adults toast the New Year with champagne, Belgian children write letters to their parents or godparents, decorate them and read them aloud on New Year’s Day.
China (Xin nian yu kuai!)
Chinese New Year is celebrated by the lunisolar calendar, so can fall any time between 21 January and 20 February. An important festival in the Republic, the festival is marked by large parades with lanterns and firecrackers, led by a silk dragon, the Chinese symbol of strength.
Denmark (Godt NytÅr!)
New Year evening meals are prepared in Denmark, ending with a ‘Kransekage’, a cone-shaped desert cake decorated with firecrackers and flags. On 1 January, it is thought that throwing dishes on a neighbour’s doorstep will bring them many friends in the coming year.
Greece (Eutychismenos o kainourgios chronos!)
In Greece, households traditionally switch off all the lights at midnight, then celebrate by cutting the Basil’s pie (vassilpita), which contains a coin. Whoever wins the coin expects luck for the year ahead.
India (nayye saal ki haardik shubh-kaam-nayen!)
The date and traditions of New Year vary between different regions of India, though each are typically celebrated at the start of the agricultural season of each area, and usually involve local rituals, food, dance and music.
Japan (Akemashite Omedetô Gozaimasu!)
New Year celebrations last from 1 January to 3 January in Japan, with most businesses closing so families can spend time together. Homes are decorated with pine, bamboo and plum tree ornaments.
Spain (Feliz año Nuevo!)
A notable Spanish New Year custom is to eat a grape at each stroke of midnight. Eating all 12 grapes before the final chime is thought to grant good luck in the coming year.
The Philippines (Manigong Bagong Taon!)
Considered part of the Christmas holiday, Filipinos celebrate New Years with firecrackers, horns and other noisemakers to dispel evil spirits and prevent them bringing bad luck into the coming year. A meal is shared at midnight (Media Noche), including a basket of twelve fruits to symbolise prosperity in the coming twelve months.
Thailand (Sawatdii Pi Maï!)
In keeping with the Buddhist/Hindu solar calendar, ‘Songkran’ is celebrated from 13 to 15 April in Thailand. Families travel to their hometowns and meet their elders, pouring water on each other to symbolically wash away their sins and bad luck.
Know any more New Year traditions in different countries? Let us know in the comments below!