New Year’s Around the World

From food to various cultural practices, one thing is a certainty: No matter where or how we live, the one constant in all our lives is that of a new year, of a time blossoming out into spiritual and physical rebirth. We are the same yet we have refreshed ourselves. .

  • One of the best known symbols of the new year in the United States is the New Year’s baby, a tradition brought to early America by the ancient Greeks (c. 600 BC) with a side trip though Germany.
  • Early Christians denounced the use of a baby as an act of paganism but since the concept of the baby as a symbol of rebirth was so popular with others, Christians were convinced to add their approval for the baby (in the body of the infant Jesus). Of course, it took many centuries to encompass the thought of a cute baby, complete with a top hat and diaper imprinted with the date of the incoming New Year.


As people are different, so are their ways of greeting the new year. Reaching back centuries, a great many of these celebrations involve food to insure a good, strong harvest. Many center around family and children. happy new year in spanish 2022

  • In Russia, children can visit the New Year Tree at the Kremlin Palace of Congresses. This huge fir tree shimmers with an untold number of colored lights. The children can also attend a fairy tale play and to highlight the day, Grandfather Frost and his helper the Snow Maiden distribute gifts. Swedes celebrate the New Year by attending church services in the morning, followed by a big, joyous family dinner.
  • In West Bengal, in northern India, people celebrate the New Year by wearing flowers, particularly those in pink, red, purple,or white. Women like to wear yellow, the color of Spring. In Karala, in southern India, again flowers and bright  colors play an important part. Children are given food, flowers, and small gifts. Orange flags are flown in central India. And finally, in Gujarat in western India, the New Year’s celebration happens at the end of October and is celebrated with Diwali, another Indian festival. Small oil lights are lit on rooftops.
  • New Year in Vietnam is called Tet Nguyen Dan or merely Tet. It lasts from January 21st to February 19th. Vietnamese tenet believes there is a god residing in each home and at New Year, this god travels to heaven where he analyzes each person’s behavior over the last year. It was once believed this god rode to heaven on the back of a carp and now, a live carp is bought and then let go in a river or a pond. The Vietnamese also believe the first person to enter their house during New Year will determine the fortunes of the household, whether they be good or bad.
  • To keep evil spirits out, Japanese hang a rope of straw in front of the full width of their houses. The rope is meant to signify happiness and good luck.
  • In China, an envelope called Hong Bao, or Red Pocket, is given by married couples to children and unmarried adults in order to insure a happy life. Grudges are not held – the New Year calls for a clean slate between families, friends, and others of the community. Firecrackers are set off during the Festival of Lanterns to scare away evil spirits.
  • Off on the other side of the world, residents of Scotland celebrate New Year with Hogmany. Some villages practice the tradition of setting barrels of tar on fire and rolling them through the streets.Symbolically, the old year is burned up and the new one allowed to enter. Like the Japanese, Scots believe luck, good or bad, is determined by the first person entering your domicile, preferably a dark-haired man bearing a gift. This determination of luck is known as first-footing. The Scottish song Auld Lang Syne, is sung at midnight on New Year’s Eve, a custom repeated throughout the world.
  • In the United States, people celebrate New Year’s Day with a multitude of food and drink. The day is not complete without turning the television on for the world-famous Tournament of Roses Parade and, of course, the annual Rose Bowl football game.
  • The old year is winding down, shown by the appearance of Father Time, lugging his hour glass of days left to the old year, his hair and beard long and flowing. It is time to renew again.

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