Only few people know that Danes have quite a lot of traditions when it comes to celebrating Christmas and New Year’s. Did you know that it’s common to jump from a couch or chair when the clock strikes midnight in order to ‘jump into the new year’?! Tradition also dictates that one should have a pile of dishes in front of the door to have good luck and friendship in the new year.
Pieces of marzipan cake and champagne is obligatory and served at midnight, but also at 6PM, when the Queen of Denmark, Margrethe II conducts her yearly speech on National TV.
The German way of celebrating New Year’s eve, or Silvester as they call it, resembles the Scandinavian way. However, it also includes a lot of noise, which is supposed to drive away evil spirits. The most famous firework display takes place at Brandenburger Tor, where thousands of people are gathering throughout the night. Germans love their doughnuts on New Year’s, but beware of the ones filled with mustard (an old joke, which should be avoided if possible!)
The fact that Brazil is one big party on New Year’s eve comes as no surprise. This party loving nation is world famous for their New Year’s gathering in Rio de Janeiro, where millions of people are celebrating with dance fireworks along the coast of Copacabana and Ipanema. It’s common to wear white clothes, as it symbolizes peace. The underwear plays an important role as well: green is the color you should wear if you wish for good health in the coming year, yellow symbolizes money and prosperity, and red is the color of passion and romance.
Food plays a major role in the Chinese New Year celebration. Families gather to enjoy a big feast, and it comes as no surprise that fireworks is a must as well. It’s meant to drive away evil spirits, and the first person who launches the firework will be blessed with good luck in the new year. The color red is vital for Chinese people as it symbolizes peace and protection from evil. Last, but not least, most families clean their houses thoroughly a few days before the celebrations in order to welcome the new and let go of the old.
In Greece, New Year’s is called St. Basil’s Day – he was one of the forefathers of the Greek Church, and this day is also celebrated as his death anniversary. People bake bread with a coin hidden in the dough to ensure good luck, and the serving of the bread is a ritual in itself: the first slice is offered to God, the second slice to the baker and the third is meant for the house. It’s also common to play cards or roll dices as people participate in games of chance to beckon luck and prosperity in the new year.
In Scotland, New Year’s is called ‘Hogmanay’, and it’s full of traditions. The famous song ‘Auld Lang Syne’, which is the most common song to sing on New Year’s eve in the English-speaking part of the world, derives from Scotland.
“First-footing” is an old tradition here, which is quite significant for Scotland; it means that neighbors visit each other shortly after midnight to wish each other a happy New Year. Oh, and it’s considered luck (for the ladies, that is) if a tall, dark and handsome man is the first one to enter your house after midnight.
Americans celebrate New Year’s on January 1st with friends and family. An abundance of great food and wine can be found in many homes, as it’s a symbol of hope for prosperity in the new year. Feasting on black-eyed beans is also common as it’s considered to bring luck. However, the most celebrated event is probably the one taking place at Times Square in New York! “The ball-drop” has been a tradition since 1907 and millions of people from all over the world flock here to experience the specially designed ball to drop at exactly 11:59pm.