Hopes and Dreams – New Year’s Traditions around the Globe

As the clock stroke twelve on December 31, the entire world immersed in celebrations. The biggest party of the year is celebrated in different ways and with distinctive traditions and rituals across the globe, but one thing unites them all: a wish for happiness, love and prosperity in the year to come.

Scarecrow Burning (Ecuador)
On New Year’s Eve, Ecuadorian Men dress up in colorful drag, pretending to be a widow of the year that has passed. They stop traffic in the streets and do provocative dances for small change. At midnight, fireworks are lit along with thousands of life-sized effigies called Ano Viejo (Old Year): paper filled scarecrows representing a famous person, Tv character or social issue. They represent all the occurrences – especially the painful ones – of the year that is coming to an and. Out with the old, and in with the new.

Eating 12 Grapes (Spain)
In Spain, if you can manage to stuff 12 grapes in your mouth at midnight (one at every chime) you’ve achieved good luck for evert month of the upcoming year.

Colored Underwear (South America)
The most common superstition in several South American countries is that one should wear colors that symbolize one’s aspiration for the coming year. The different colors of worn underwear are believed to determine your fate for the New Year. Yellow for prosperity, blue for harmony, white for peace, gold for wealth and red for love.

Broken Plates (Denmark)
In Denmark, residents keep a pile of dishes, all broken, in front of the door. For this they save old dishes and People usually throw these on the friends’ doors during New Year. This symbolizes friendship and brotherhood and they believe the one with maximum dishes outside, has the most friends. Some Danish are found to leap some chairs during midnight.

Round Things (Philippines)
In the Philippines it’s all about the cash. They believe that everything should be round so as to represent coins and bring wealth. Round food, (polka-dot) round clothes, as long as it’s round. Families display several round fruits – such as oranges and grapes – on the dinner table. At the stroke of midnight, the streets erupt with fireworks while children jump up and down, hoping to grow taller in the forthcoming year.

New York (USA)
America’s most popular New Year’s Eve tradition is definitely watching the famous ball drop at Times Square. At 11:59pm, the sparkly 5,386-kilo ball descends down a specially designed flagpole and lands at the base exactly as the clock strikes the midnight hour. Adolph Ochs, the owner of The New York Times, first organized the event in 1907 and it has been held every year since (except for in 1942 and 1943, due to wartime blackouts). Around a million people attend the event each year, which his televised and watched by over a billion people worldwide.

Le Grand Bal (Vienna)
The Hofburg Palace in Vienne hosts one of the most exquisite events of the year: Le Grand Bal. This fairy-tale ball celebrates New Year’s Eve in the most regal way possible: formal eveningwear with full-length ball gowns for the ladies, and tails, tuxedos or gala uniforms for the man. The highlight of the evening is dancing to “The Blue Danube” waltz on midnight.

108 Rings (Japan)

In Japan, Buddhist temples ring all of their bells 108 times in the tradition of Joya no Kane as belief that this brings cleanness. The ringing bells represent the 108 elements of bono, mental states that lead people to take unwholesome actions.

Mass kissing (Venice)
St Mark’s Square is known for holding not only a big firework display over the Basin of St. Mark but for something far more unusual, a mass kiss-in in the piazza.

Chinese New Year (China)
Different part of China has very different traditions. Fireworks are used to drive away the evil, red pockets with money are given by adults (especially married couple, and elderly to young children), people will do a complete cleaning of the house and decorate it, mostly in red color (which symbolizes happiness and good fortune).

By Dieter Vanonckelen

Ecuador New Year Habit Doll

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