January 22, 2015
Around the world there are many different celebrations of how each country celebrates the New Year and since it’s the start of a new year I thought it would make for an interesting post. I thought that it would be fun to write about the most interesting New Year's celebrations that I found are recognized around the world. I'll briefly point out interesting facts about each country's way of celebrating the New Year - sorry if I don't cover it all or miss out on some!
After each blurb, I'm recommending some books related to each country. Enjoy!
The Japanese consider December 31st to be very important because there are various old customs celebrated around Japan. One of the most popular started around the Edo period (1603- 1868) which is eating soba buckwheat noodles. They say that eating these noodles are a way to wish for a life that's as long as the long skinny noodles they eat. Another thing about Japanese New Year's is that they ring the bells at temples 108 times to represent the old year fading out and the new year coming in. One reason for the bell ringing is that its done to forswear the 108 human desires. In terms of food Japanese eat mochi, which are made with different flavors and are wonderful to eat.
New Year's in France is called "Jour des trennes" or "le Jour de l'An", celebrations are called "Reveillons", one of the things they do is they believe feasting brings good luck. So, there is a special feast called "Le Reveillon de Sylvestre". Families meet and greet, champagnes are uncorked and huge parties are organized. Public and private fireworks are displayed which is common, they also sing songs such as "Chanson nouvel de an" (The song of the new year), and an adaption of the Scottish "Choral des Adieux" (Auld Lang syne). People generally spend the new years quietly with the company of friends and family.
Germans drop molten lead into cold water and see what shape it takes as they predict about the future. Each shape symbolizes an aspect of life - love, prosperity, etc, Families get together for meals at midnight with some bits left behind (food) as a good omen ensuring abundance in the coming year. Fireworks are a common display as well as public concerts, parties and last up to the early hours of January 1. Classical orchestras may present a special music program known as New Year's concerts in the afternoon or evening. In certain regions local medias will compete to try to find and publish the first photograph of the first baby born in the New Year.
When midnight strikes, it's customary to eat twelve grapes one at each strike of the clock, it's suppose to bring good luck. One grape for each of the twelve months of the New Year, in the cities people gather at the main squares and observe the custom together. Dancing and drinking all night is a typical form of Spanish celebration.
The New Year's eve in tagalog is "Bisperas ng Bagong taon" Filipino families believe that round objects symbolizing coins would bring them good luck and prosperity in the New year. The tables are heaped with round fruits and eat exactly twelve of them at midnight, some wear polka dots for the occasion because of the round signifying prosperity. Foods that are prepared would be pancit (noodles), cooked to signify life, delicacies like malagkit (glutinous or sticky rice) are prepared like biko (rice cake made from sticky rice) which is for the good fortune to stick all year round.
Well, this is just a small introduction to how some countries celebrate the New Years, I had the experience of eating soba noodles for the Japanese New year. My Japanese teacher thought it would be a good way to finish the year, they were very tasty :) The library is open to so many diverse books about any country that celebrates the New Year in their culture/tradition so I'd definitely recommend and check out some books at your local library.
Thanks for reading!
Dana is a member of the Millennium Library's Youth Advisory Council, which is why she gets to call herself a library insider and do awesome things like write for this blog. Find out more about the Youth Advisory Council on this page.