January 1, 2012 – New Year Traditions around the World

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United States – The most commonly sung song for English-speakers on New Year’s eve, “Auld Lang Syne” is an old Scottish song that was first published by the poet Robert Burns in the 1796 edition of the book, Scots Musical Museum.  Americans watch the ball drop in Times Square and kiss at midnight.

Scotland  – They call their new year celebration Hogmanay.  The Scottish observe a “first foot” tradition waiting for the first guest to enter the home after midnight as a way to predict their fortune for the upcoming year.

Danish traditionalists will find a doorstep of broken dishes on New Years day. Thrown at the door through the night, the more broken pieces you have, it is thought the greater the number of friendships.

Spain:  Spaniards celebrate the clock striking 12 by challenging themselves to eat 12 grapes before the final ringing of midnight.

The Netherlands:  The Dutch burn bonfires of Christmas trees on the street and launch fireworks. The fires are meant to purge the old and welcome the new.

Greece:  One of the traditional foods served is Vassilopitta, or St Basil’s cake. A silver or gold coin is baked inside the cake. Whoever finds the coin in their piece of cake will be especially lucky during the coming year.

Japan:  The new year is a symbol of renewal.  In December, various Bonenkai or “forget-the-year parties” are held to bid farewell to the problems and concerns of the past year and prepare for a new beginning. Misunderstandings and grudges are forgiven and houses are scrubbed.

At midnight on Dec. 31, Buddhist temples strike their gongs 108 times, in a effort to expel 108 types of human weakness.


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