Different Global cultural traditions observed during the New Year

As the clock slowly ticks down the seconds to 12AM on 31st December every year, millions of people across the globe wait with bated breath to welcome the arrival of a promising new year. What is truly remarkable however is the fact that so many diverse people come together as one to celebrate this special day, a day which stands testament to the steady development of the global village.

However, not everyone celebrates it in quite the same way. Over the years, the different cultures of the world have come to develop their own peculiar traditions and customs to celebrate the dawn of a new year. These traditions are extremely diverse and are deeply rooted in local customs. And yet it is always a treat to see so many different people celebrate the same event in so many different ways. So before the last few days of 2016 finally run out, let’s take a look at some of them.

1) Denmark – Smashing crockery

Many cultures indulge in symbolic gestures to mark the beginning of a new year and Denmark is no different. The good people of the country spend the entire year collecting dishes and then on New Year’s Eve they simply chuck them at the front door of their houses. They believe that the number of plates that break will be proportional to the number of friends they shall have in the new year. As if this wasn’t quirky enough, they also stand on chairs and jump off as the clock strikes 12 on New Year’s Eve.

 2) Scotland and Northern England – First-Foot

Though rarely observed these days, Scotland and parts of northern England have a peculiar custom called First-footing. First-foot is basically the name given to the first person who shall enter a house in the New Year. Ideally, he or she should be a tall, dark-haired male or female who comes bearing gifts of coins, bread, salt coal, whiskey, basically items that symbolize prosperity, food, flavour, warmth and good cheer respectively.

3) Germany – Pour molten lead in water

Lead is considered to be a very auspicious metal in Germany and it comes as no surprise that it seems to play such an important part in their New Year’s traditions. The Germans pour molten lead into a bowl of water and believe that the shape that it will take will predict the future. A round shape is for good luck whereas a cross signifies a sad demise. On the other hand an anchor indicates that you need to take someone’s help and a heart of course signifies marScriage.

4) Philippines – Round is good luck

Similar to the Germans, the Filipinos too consider round shapes to be auspicious, so much that they celebrate by consuming grapes and wearing polka dotted dresses. They also chuck coins as the new year begins since they believe it symbolises prosperity.

5) Chile – New Year with the dead

The good people of Chile have a rather interesting new year’s tradition. They all attend mass together and then go the graveyards where their family is buried. Seating arrangements are made and they welcome the new year surrounded by the dead.

6) Spain – Grapes for good luck

Eating grapes for good luck seems to be a common theme but the Spanish make it a part of the countdown to the new year. They pop one grape for every toll of the clock at 12am and apparently each grape signifies the twelve months of good fortune to come.


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