In the United States, we have a few traditions — like toasting with Champagne and giving a kiss at midnight, dropping the ball in Times Square and setting off fireworks. Here are some other U.S traditions, as well as examples of traditions in countries around the world.
Scottish New Year's — Great Balls of Fire!
Alexandria, Va owes its founding to 3 Scottish merchants In 1669, Scotsman John Alexander purchased the land of present-day Alexandria from an English ship captain. In the late fall of 1748, three Scots settlers, William Ramsay, John Carlyle and John Pagan, sailed up the Potomac River from Dumfries, Virginia, to look for a better location for a tobacco port. Originally called “Belle Haven” (its first buildings located where the Belle Haven Country Club now stands, on the banks of the Potomac between Old Town Alexandria and Mount Vernon). To this day Alexandria Virginia owes many of its local events and traditions to its Scottish origins the annual Scottish Christmas Parade and Scottish Walk Open House to name two.
In Scotland the Scots refer to New Year's as "Hogmanay," and they approach such celebrations as they do life, with great vigor — it's one of their biggest holidays, even bigger than Christmas, which in Scotland wasn't celebrated publicly until the mid 20th century. Hogmanay was the winter time holiday that most Scots observed instead. Hogmanay has its roots with the Vikings, when Norse invaders observed the winter solstice in late December, and over time other traditions borrowed from events like the Gaelic Samhain celebrations began to merge and eventually became Hogmanay. The New Year's celebration is several days long and encompasses many different traditions, but one of the more colorful — or dangerous, at least — is observed in Stonehaven, a town in Aberdeenshire. The locals create balls from wire, paper and other materials, then set them on fire while swinging them around and walking through the streets.
Redding the House - Like an annual spring cleaning, families do a major cleanup to ready the house for the New Year. Preparing for the new by getting rid of the old. A through fireplace sweeping out was very important and there was even a ritual and skill of reading the ashes, similar to how people read tea leaves. And, at a time of year when fire plays a huge part in celebrations, it's only natural to bring a bit of it into the house. After the big cleanup, someone goes from room to room carrying a smoking juniper branch to repel evil spirits and ward off disease.
Italian New Year's Traditions
Just after Christmas, shop windows will be awash with red undergarments. Both men and women wear red underwear on New Year's Eve to bring luck in the coming year; red is also the color of fertility, and those hoping to conceive in the following year also wear red. To insure success they should be thrown away the day after.
It seems that this tradition dates back to the time of the ancient Romans. During New Year’s Eve they wore something red to represent power, health and fertility.
At New Year's Eve dinner, Italians usually eat cotechino con lenticchie (sausages and green lentils) at the stroke of midnight. The sausages, which are high in fat content and therefore symbolize abundance, are sliced to resemble coins as well, calling for financial wealth. The lentils, because of their flat disk shape, are also supposed to represent coins and are also considered to foretell of increased fortunes in the year to come.
Getting rid of old things
This is mostly a southern Italy tradition. People commonly used to throw old things out of the window or balcony, so it could be quite dangerous. On New Year's Eve, Italians will throw out old items as a symbolic gesture of letting go of the past. They will throw away old clothes, furniture, pots, and pans – out the window! These days, this tradition is no longer as common in Italy, but beware of an odd pan flying through the air.
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In Japan’s Buddhist Temples, a bell will chime 108 times in a ceremony called Joya no Kane. The tradition states that for each bell chime, one of the evils suffered from the previous year is absolved. Some people also wear a costume of the next year’s zodiac animal (which in 2019 is a Boar) to the temple on New Year’s Eve.
In the Philippines, round shapes are said to bring prosperity, so many people display bowls of round fruits on their tables, eat round foods at midnight and wear clothing with round shapes — think polka dots.
Jumping Off Chairs in Denmark — It is a tradition to jump off a chair at the stroke of midnight. Everyone gets up on a chair and at midnight everyone jumps off together, signifying a leap into the new year and the leaving behind of evil spirits.
Also in Denmark, one tradition is to break plates and dishes on the doorsteps of your friends. The bigger the pile of broken dishes on your doorstep, the better, as it shows how many loyal friends you have.
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U.S. New Year's Traditions
Polar Bear Plunge
The plunge into icy water on New Year’s Day is a tradition that’s been adopted in many U.S. cities, but it has a long history in Canada, the UK and The Netherlands, where thousands join the ranks of people crazy enough to risk hypothermia for the plunge.
Eating Greens — they represent financial prosperity and paper money because they are flat and green like U.S. dollar bills. Pretty much any leafy green will do; the type of green apparently only matters to each family's traditions. In the southern U.S. States the most common are collards, mustard greens, turnip greens and cabbage.
Eating Black-Eyed Peas is primarily a tradition in the south. The exact origins seem to vary. Here are a few of the cited reasons why eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day has become a tradition:
Some say that it dates back to the Civil War. Black-eyed peas were considered animal food, unfit for humans. The peas were not worthy of General Sherman's Union troops. When Union soldiers raided the Confederates' food supplies, legend says they took everything except the peas and salted pork. The Confederates considered themselves lucky to be left with those meager supplies and survived the winter. The peas became symbolic of luck.
Black-eyed peas were also given to slaves, as were most other traditional New Year's foods. Let's face it: a lot of the stuff eaten in the South on New Year's is soul food. One explanation of the superstition says that black-eyed peas were all that Southern slaves had to celebrate with on the first day of January 1863. What were they celebrating? That was the day when the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect. From then on, the peas were always eaten on the first day of January.
Another reason given is that because the peas swell as they cook, it is said to be a sign of prosperity and abundance.
Burning a Bayberry Candle
According to tradition, lighting the candle should be done either on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve to ensure your household enjoys a year of prosperity and good luck.
The common verse found along with the sweet smelling candles is as follows,
“This bayberry candle comes from a friend,
so on Christmas Eve burn it to the end.
For a bayberry candle burned to the socket,
will bring joy to the heart and gold to the pocket.”
It's important to the luck of the bayberry candle that it is burned all the way to the socket in one continuous burn and that the candle must be lit in one year and still burning into the next, so you want to time your lighting of the candle so that it is still burning after midnight. For obvious safety reasons, you want to be certain that it is out before you turn in for the night. So timing is important.
In Puerto Rico, it’s a custom to throw a bucket or a glass of water out the window at midnight to clear out the old year and drive away evil spirits.
Spanish New Year's Traditions
The Twelve Grapes
In Spain, an age-old tradition involves eating 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight — one grape at every strike of the clock. If you manage to eat all of the grapes, you’ll have a prosperous year. In Peru, they take this a step further by eating the grapes under the table and reciting the months of the year. If any grapes are dropped on the ground, it’s bad luck. This is a tradition that dates back to at least 1895 but became established in 1909. In December of that year, some Alicantese vine growers popularized this custom to better sell huge amounts of grapes from what was a bumper crop harvest.
"New Year's Traditions You Won't Believe"
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