By Kiran Galani
All across the world, people celebrate the transition from one year to the next, making New Year’s celebrations one of the most widespread celebrations in the world. However, this doesn’t mean that it is celebrated in the same way across the world. Different regions have different New Year’s traditions, festivities, food traditions, and outfits and they each revel in their own culture. Some places even have a different local new year, based on their religious or cultural calendars, that falls on a date other than the 1st of January. Despite all these differences, these celebrations are all tied together by the fact that they all rejoice the beginning of a new year and hope to invoke luck for the upcoming year.
Biggest New Year parties around the world
The famed ball drop at midnight at Times Square in New York is essentially the quintessential idea of large-scale New Year celebrations. Almost a million people gather to watch the world’s most famous new year tradition which is preceded and followed by performances from big stars making it one giant party. The celebrations at NYC are rivalled by the festivities at Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana beach. Known to be the biggest, and perhaps wildest, New Year’s bashes, they host more than two million people on the two-and-a-half-mile stretch of sand. The celebration, known as Réveillon, blends religious, traditional, and superstitious beliefs making it a uniquely Brazilian cultural experience. The locals dress head to toe in white, which is believed to bring good luck, and toss handfuls of flowers into the ocean as a gift to Yemanjá, the goddess of the seas.
Celebrations at London, Berlin, Hong Kong, Sydney and Vegas are also very well known and have a lot of unique festivities to offer. An interesting and unique place to ring in the new year, especially for families with kids, is the New Year’s Eve at Walt Disney World. The theme park stays open until 1 am and is packed with fun activities all day long. Leading up to the midnight fireworks show, there are Cirque du Soleil performances, dance parties, live entertainers, and confetti explosions to keep visitors of all ages entertained. In India itself there are several interesting options to celebrate as well. Quite unsurprisingly, Goa is seen to be one of the top destinations to celebrate New Year with several beachside parties and firework shows. Marine Drive in Mumbai also offers a spectacular location to watch firework shows from while celebrating with friends or family.
Interesting international traditions
While fireworks are a New Year’s tradition that everyone looks forward to, there are several other quirky and unusual traditions from across the world that are used to welcome the New Year and bring in luck. Breaking plates for luck is all the rage in Denmark on New Year’s Eve. People in Denmark save all of their unused dishes and plates until 31st December, which is when they affectionately shatter them against the doors of all their friends and family to bring them luck. In Ecuador, New Year’s is celebrated by burning paper filled scarecrows at midnight. They also burn photographs from the previous year. Both of these burnings take place in the name of good fortune hoping to bring good luck to the people. Spain has a very specific New Year’s tradition that revolves around grapes. According to this tradition, if one can manage to stuff 12 grapes in their mouth at midnight they’ve achieved good luck for the next year. In the Philippines, the New Year celebrations are all about the cash. They believe that everything should be round so as to represent coins and bring wealth. Round food and round clothes are all part of the celebration. There are several other quirky celebrations around the world that include everything from throwing furniture out of the window to wearing underwear of a specific colour for specific fates in the new year, and each of them has their own interesting story.
Celebrations echoing the same sentiment
Not all New Year’s celebrations take place on December 31. Several cultures across the world celebrate New Year’s on other days, either fixed by the western calendar or not. The Jewish New Year, called Rosh Hashanah, is celebrated in September. During this two-day holiday, families celebrate tradition through food and prayer services. The Chinese New Year is celebrated around the globe, in cities that are home to a significant Chinese population. Taking place in late January or early February, this celebration is one of the most important holidays of the year. You don’t have to be Chinese to enjoy the feasting, fireworks, dragon dances, and glowing lanterns of this holiday. From New York City to San Francisco to Chinatown in Sydney, Australia, this holiday is a festive one. The Orthodox Church in Russia, along with other countries like Macedonia, Serbia, and Ukraine, celebrates the New Year on January 14. This is a religious holiday, celebrated with family feasts. If you’re planning a trip to Russia to celebrate New Year’s Eve, you will stay want to be there on December 31. Although the religious holiday falls on January 14, the public holiday is January 1, and New Year’s Eve is home to fireworks, feasts, and festivities.There are several nations in the world that have their own special celebrations. India itself has a vast diaspora of festivals that count as New Year within different cultural communities like Ugadi and Gudi Padwa.
It is evident that different places have different ideas of what a traditional New Year’s holiday entails, but they are all united by a spirit of goodwill and a sense of moving forward. Let’s keep that in mind and aim to create a spirit of tolerance and inclusivity for all communities moving forward this year.
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