How do you welcome the new year? Most new year celebrations run around family and friends… Since we were kids, my dad would ask us to gather around the TV for the count down. If anyone is asleep, they must wakeup for it. We hold a glass of water and as the count down starts, we drink the water when the countdown reaches 3, 2, 1… Happy New Year! And then we can tell everyone that we drank ONE glass of water from last year to this current year, which is technically correct!
Now here are some other traditions and ways of celebrating and welcoming the new year around the world!
Spain: 12 Grapes in 12 Seconds
People in Spain are also glued to the T.V. waiting for a clock tower bell to ring 12 times. They eat 12 grapes in the last 12 seconds of the year. Some would even spend extra minutes to prepare the grapes by removing the seeds or peeling the skins off their “good luck” grapes. They even offer little tins with 12 seedless grapes peeled and glistening, ready to pack into your mouth towards midnight. That is really a fun tradition as you can have few laughs and good natured bets as to who won’t be able to eat’em all… or watch everyone else eat theirs and laugh it off!
Japan: Laugh for Luck
The Japanese New Year Oshogatsu is an important time for family celebrations, so almost everything is closed! Shops, offices, you name it. The Japanese celebrate January 1st but they also keep their beliefs from Shinto their religion. To ward off evil spirits, they hang a rope of straws in front of their houses, which -in their beliefs- bring happiness and good luck. When the new year begins, they laugh… this is supposed to bring them good luck for the new year. The temple bells usher out the old year, then the night watch bell –joyano-kane– comes and ring the bell 108 times freeing the faithful from the evil and the 108 “earthy desires” lambasted in the Buddhist canon. Houses are decorated with evergreen (a symbol for eternal life) and bamboo (a symbol for honesty)
Brazil: Lentil Soup
In Brazil lentil is believed to signify wealth, so on the first day of the new year, they serve lentil soup or lentils and rice! It is a popular custom in Brazil and is well accepted as a ritual to welcome the peace and wealth in the forthcoming year.
Wales: Sprinkle Good Luck Around
In Wales, the boys of the area go around from house to house at around 3:00 or 4:00 on the new years morning using evergreen twig to sprinkle all over the house and people of the houses. This was believed to bring good luck. Then at around noon they go around singing songs all over the place, and are given coins, pies, apples, and other sweets in return. This must be done by noon, otherwise the singer will be called “fools”.