Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year Traditions

As we are getting ready for New Year’s eve, buying all the necessary things for the feast, there are different traditions and beliefs we do every New Year’s Day to bring us good luck for the next year to come. Let’s see how people in some countries celebrate New Year, aside from giving gifts, warm greetings, fireworks and Champagne spilling all over the place, there are unique ways to celebrate it.

The suckling pig is the symbol for good luck for the new year. It's served on a table decorated with tiny edible pigs. Dessert often consists of green peppermint ice cream in the shape of a four-leaf clover.

Polar bear swim on the New Year's Day and people of all ages put on their bathing suits plunge into the icy cold water to welcome the New Year.
Loud claps and cheers at the stroke of midnight are believed to ward off evil spirits. Kissing the date on New Year Eve midnight ensures that friendly ties will grace both the partner on each day of the New Year.

Greeks called the New Year as “Protohronia” and it’s one of the most awaited days in Greece. On this day, St. Basil or Ayios Vasilis render gifts to all the Greeks and so gifting tradition in Greece forms a significant part of the New Year tradition in Greece. A cake called as Basil Cake or “Vassilopita” is sliced and eaten on the day. The custom is based on the fact that the Greeks believe that they will find a coin of fortune within the cake. It is the responsibility of the head of the family or the father to cut the cake into pieces. The first slice is dedicated to Jesus, while the second one is a share towards the house and the third slice is distributed among the family members.

In Hungary they burn effigies or a scapegoat known as "Jack Straw" which represented the evils and misfortunes of the past year to burn on New Year's Eve. Jack Straw is carried around the village before being burnt.

"Johnkankus" parades and masquerades are an antique New Year tradition of Jamaica. During this festival, people dress themselves in bizarre costumes made of rags and tatters, picked up objects and second hand materials. The Jonkonnu members wear masks on their faces and there heads are covered with beautiful headdress made from animal parts.

The Japanese New Year Oshogatsu is an important time for family celebrations, when all the shops, factories and offices are closed. The Japanese decorate their homes in tribute to lucky gods.

One tradition, kadomatsu, consists of a pine branch symbolizing longevity, a bamboo stalk symbolizing prosperity, and a plum blossom showing nobility.

The custom of having twelve grapes on the New Years Eve midnight, Portuguese pick and eat twelve grapes from a bunch as the clock strikes twelve on New Year's Eve. It is believed that this custom would ensure twelve happy months for the coming year.

Lead Pouring or Das Bleigieen . A small amount of lead is melted in a tablespoon by candle flame and then pounavy into a bowl of water. The shape the lead takes into after hardening is interpreted to pnavyict the ensuing year. For instance, if the lead forms a ball it means luck will roll ones way. The shape of an anchor means help in need but a cross signifies impending death.

In Swaziland the harvest festival is called Newala or "first fruits" ceremony and takes place at the end of the year.

It is a celebration of kingship, traditional has it that the king of Swaziland, the Ngwenyama or "Lion", has powers that are mystical and is believed to embody the Swaziland prosperity and fertility, and therefore it is said that he must have many wives and father many children.

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