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New Year's Love, Luck and Laughter

Special Features
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Unique New Year’s Eve celebrations around the world.

It’s that time of the year again! The time when we take out our journals and review our resolutions for the past year, before deciding on which ones to renew and which ones to let go. Nobody really knows when and how this age-old tradition began, but we all can appreciate why it became one - starting your new year best foot forward, with new plans and hopes.

Similarly, it’s around this time that many are also looking forward to ringing in the new year. In past years, many cities around the world would have hosted a major celebration to mark the event at exactly 12 midnight, but this year’s countdown would understandably be more subdued. To help you get into the spirit, here’s a rundown of some of the unique and interesting traditions the new year is ushered in at different locations around the world.

New York, USA
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To start off, New Year’s Eve celebrations in New York city isn’t generally regarded as “unique” as the scene is ubiquitous in many Hollywood productions including the 2011 film, New Year’s Eve, and numerous television shows, it is definitely iconic. Each year, millions flock to watch the Times Square Ball being dropped to mark the new year. This ball drop is a tradition that is 113 years old, started by the owner of The New York Time’s in 1907 after he organised the first ever Times Square new year’s celebrations in 1904. This year, there won’t be the usual massive crowd but there will still be a New Year’s Eve event featuring Gloria Gaynor, Pitbull, Anitta, Jennifer Lopez, Billy Porter and Cyndi Lauper, among others, as well as the much-anticipated ball drop, of course. The event will be broadcasted live online.

Valparaiso, Chile
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In Chile, the port city of Valparaiso holds a three-day celebration that culminates in the largest fireworks display in Latin America. Meanwhile, locals ring in the new year with relatively peculiar customs (though also practiced similarly in other South American countries) - they wear yellow underwear to usher in wealth and luck; eat 12 grapes at midnight (symbolising each ring of the bell) for good luck; and insert a $1,000 peso bill in their right shoe in hopes that it will multiply in the coming months.

Stonehaven, Scotland
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(Photo: https://stonehavenfireballs.co.uk/)

In Scotland, New Year’s Eve is called Hogmanay and is known for their fire festivals, where people wield large fireballs to ward off evil spirits. The Hogmanay in Stonehaven is spectacular - a parade of professionals swing balls of fire over their head before tossing them into the sea!

Johannesburg, South Africa
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Some cultures welcome the new year by throwing things. In Johannesburg, people used to throw old furniture out of their windows to symbolise casting away old problems and getting a fresh start. However, this tradition is not as common as it once was in more recent years (for obvious reasons!).

Yerevan, Armenia
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In Armenia, pomegranates are thrown on the ground for good luck. Armenians will try to throw the fruits as hard as possible because the more pieces and seeds are spread on the ground, the more successful the new year will be and the richer the thrower.

Copenhagen, Denmark
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In the capital city of Denmark, as well as elsewhere around the country and a few other European states, locals welcome the new year by smashing plates onto a friend's front step because they believe that broken glass brings good luck. This spells big profits for dish and porcelain manufacturers as their stocks will be emptied during the end of the year. Of course, cracked or chipped plates are also stockpiled months beforehand to be used for this purpose. In more recent years, many have taken to prebreaking their dishes and piling the fragments on the doorsteps of family, friends and neighbours instead of throwing them on the ground. The belief is that the bigger the pile you have, the more luck you will receive that year. It also seems to be a good indicator of how popular one is judging by their pile of broken dishes.

Tallin, Estonia
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In Estonia, the numbers 7, 9, and 12 are considered good luck, so the people will try to eat as many times on New Year’s Eve day. Some of the beliefs include that eating seven times will yield the strength of seven men the following year - perhaps in reference to productivity, and subsequently, profits or gains. However, diners should leave a portion of the meal for the spirits of ancestors that are believed to come visit on New Year’s Eve.

However it is that we celebrate the coming of the new year, what’s more important is that you’re ushering it in with loved ones, looking back at the year that was and are prepared to face the year ahead with positivity and good cheer! Happy New Year!

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