NEW YEAR’S EVE: All around the world people celebrate the coming of a new year and time with traditions from their country. Although the celebrations are not always held on the same day, they often include traditions of religious celebrations, costume parties, parades and with customs said to bring good luck and fortune in the new year.
ECUADOR - In South America “Ano Viejo” is celebrated by creating a fake person or dummy. The scarecrow-looking person will be completely dressed and stuffed with old newspapers and firecrackers. The dummy is usually placed outside the home. He represents something that happened during the last year. At midnight each family lights the dummy on fire. As the dummy goes up in smoke, the firecrackers also go off to add to the festivities. The old year is forgotten and the new year begins.
GREECE - In Greece, St. Basil fills the children’s shoes with presents at midnight.
DENMARK - It is a good sign to find your door littered with a pile of broken dishes at New Years. Old dishes are saved all year to throw them at the homes where their friends live on New Year’s Eve. Many broken dishes were a symbol that you have many friends!
JAPAN - People in Japan spend weeks planning for their New Year celebrations. They buy special food and make decorations for their front doors out of pine branches, bamboo, and ropes that are believed to bring health and long life. Fan ropes are also hung over the doors and roofs with seaweed or ferns to bring them happiness and good luck. Children receive “otoshidamas” which are small gifts with money inside. They also send New Year cards to their friends and hold forgetting-year parties to say goodbye to the old year. The Japanese also forgive friends and family for any misunderstandings and disagreements they may have had that year so they can make a clean start of the new year. On December 31st, bells are rung 108 times to chase away 108 troubles. The people all laugh after the gongs because laughter will drive away the bad spirits. With all the bad spirits gone and troubles and enemies forgiven, they enjoy a day of celebration.
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS: One new year tradition is the making of New Year’s resolutions. That tradition dates back to the early Babylonians. The early Babylonian’s most popular resolution was to return borrowed farm equipment. Popular modern resolutions include promises to lose weight or quit smoking.
NEW YEAR’S PARADES: In the United States, one of the most famous parades is the Tournament of Roses where the floats are all decorated with flowers. The parade dates back to 1886 when members of the Valley Hunt Club decorated their carriages with flowers. It celebrated the ripening of the orange crop in California.
New years is celebrated in many countries with a parade. After spending many months creating colorful costumes, the Junkanoo parade is held in the Bahamas where thousands of people celebrate in the New Year’s Festival. Prizes are given to the best, the strangest, or the most beautiful costumes.
In Nepal there is a four day parade during the New Year celebration and in Greece people carry figures of apples, ships and stars.
In Syria and Lebanon children parade door to door as well.
Thailand’s parade is led by an honored woman and people march to the beat of drums and gongs. Dragons, elephants, buffalos and giants are popular parade costumes there.
In Oberammergau, West Germany, the parade is very long and the parade leader carries a tall pole with a star on the top. He sings songs about the past year and dance to a band.
FOOTBALL: Although the Rose Bowl football game was first played as a part of the Tournament of Roses in 1902, it was replaced by Roman chariot races the following year. In 1916, the football game returned as the sports centerpiece of the festival. Today you can find a majority of American men watching the football game on TV on New Year’s Day. There are even “Rose Bowl” parties.
THE NEW YEAR BABY: The tradition of using a baby to signify the new year has roots in ancient Greece. Early Egyptians also used a baby as a symbol of rebirth. Early Christians tried to stop the tradition of using a baby to symbolize the new year, but its popularity as a symbol of rebirth outlasted the church’s attempts to change the tradition. Using an image of a baby with a New Years banner was brought to early America by the Germans.