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Dear Mrs Grady
Here are a few traditions for New Year.I am sure that other correspondents
will contribute others.
In England the custom of first-footing is important. The reason is that it
is supposed to ensure good luck for the inhabitants of the house. The
first-footer must be male, young, healthy and good looking. He must be
dark-haired and he should be carrying a small piece of coal, money, bread,
and salt. These are the symbols of wealth.
The custom of exchanging gifts was transferred to Christmas it was
originally done at New Year, when the Lord of the Manor was given samples of
produce by his tenants and peasants, while he gave a valuable gift to the
Queen or King. The Englishman gave their wives money to by pins for the
coming year. This Tradition died, but, the expression "pin money" is still
used to describe the money set aside for personal use, especially if given
to a woman by her husband.
In Germany people would drop molten lead into cold water and try to tell the
future from the shape it made. A heart or ring shape meant a wedding, a ship
a journey, and a pig plenty of food in the year ahead.
People also would leave a bit of every food eaten on New Year's Eve on their
plate until after Midnight as a way of ensuring a well-stocked larder. Carp
was included as it was thought to bring wealth.
"Auld Lang Syne," playing in the background, is sung at the stroke of
midnight in almost every English-speaking country in the world to bring in
the new year. At least partially written by Robert Burns in the 1700's, it
was first published in 1796 after Burns' death. Early variations of the song
were sung prior to 1700 and inspired Burns to produce the modern rendition.
An old Scotch tune, "Auld Lang Syne" literally means "old long ago," or
simply, "the good old days."
The celebration of the new year is the oldest of all holidays. It was first
observed in ancient Babylon about 4000 years ago. In the years around 2000
BC, the Babylonian New Year began with the first New Moon (actually the
first visible crescent) after the Vernal Equinox (first day of spring).
The beginning of spring is a logical time to start a new year. After all, it
is the season of rebirth, of planting new crops, and of blossoming. 1
January on the other hand, has no astronomical nor agricultural
significance. It is purely arbitrary.
The Babylonian new year celebration lasted for eleven days. Each day had its
own particular mode of celebration, but it is safe to say that modern New
Year's Eve festivities pale in comparison.
The Romans continued to observe the new year in late March, but their
calendar was continually tampered with by various emperors so that the
calendar soon became out of synchronization with the sun.
In order to set the calendar right, the Roman senate, in 153 BC, declared
January to be the beginning of the new year. But tampering continued until
Julius Caesar, in 46 BC, established what has come to be known as the Julian
Calendar. It again established 1 January as the new year. But in order to
synchronize the calendar with the sun, Caesar had to let the previous year
drag on for 445 days.
Although in the first centuries AD the Romans continued celebrating the new
year, the early Church condemned the festivities as paganism. But as
Christianity became more widespread, the early church began having its own
religious observances concurrently with many of the pagan celebrations, and
New Year's Day was no different. New Years is still observed as the Feast of
the Lord Jesus Christ's Circumcision by some denominations.
During the Middle Ages, the Church remained opposed to celebrating New
Years. January has been celebrated as a holiday by Western nations for only
about the past 400 years.
All New Year's Eve in other parts of Europe can not celebrate with the same
vigour as Hogmanay in Scotland, there are still some wild parties.. Although
many French see in the New Year by dining out in fine restaurants and
drinking champagne at midnight, most tourists along with the younger locals
celebrate outside in the streets. In Paris the main parties occur along
avenue des Champs-Elysées, place de la Bastille and boulevard Saint Michel.
Amsterdam is one of Europe's top party destinations, and Oudejaarsavond (New
Year's Eve) is one of the city's best parties. Grab a bottle of champagne
from the supermarket and share it with total strangers on the streets at
midnight. Like the French, many Dutch people celebrate New Year's Eve by
eating a lavish meal with their family and don't hit the streets until after
midnight. It is traditional to eat a peculiar donut After midnight you'll
have finished your champagne, but that's no problem as Amsterdam's bar's are
just opening for the night.
Although many British try and make it to Scotland for Hogmanay, there are
parties throughout the UK with the biggest celebrations occurring in
London's Trafalgar Square.
In Germany, New Year's Eve (Silvester) is a time for partying on the
streets. There is the usual drinking and kissing total strangers at midnight
and wishing them "Ein gutes neues Jahr", accompanied by fireworks.
New Year's Eve parties in Spain are much the same with lots of parties.
Drinking on the streets is complemented by a number of Spanish traditions
such as eating twelve grapes on the stroke of midnight, one for each stroke
of the clock.
In China on New Year's, The Chinese New Year's is celebrated in February, is
the longest and most crowded holiday in my country. Day paper cuttings are
on every family's windows. Paper cuttings are one of the most popular folk
arts in China. They are properly framed or simply pasted onto the windows.
Traditionally, they were only made of red paper. Most elderly women would
make them just with a piece of red paper and a pair of scissors. They made
them for their own families for the Chinese New Year. The Chinese believed
that these paper cuttings can scare away the evil spirits, so they can't get
into the house through the windows. all family members to get together to
chat children to wear brand new clothes children to gather lucky money from
adults travelling hanging around the flower shows shopping for cleaning
house, especially for messy people.
On New Year's Eve, all family members get together and just stay home to
prepare food. Even though some of the work in different cities, they will be
home on time.
At the dinner the Chinese have foods such as dumplings, chicken, and fish
which all have meanings of good luck. After dinner is traditional to
attend a flower show Officially, The Chinese have nine days for holidays
Year.you will find a detail of the traditions in The Forgotten Tribes of
China by Kevin Sinclair Brookvale NSW Child & Associates 1987
In Turkey many celebrate by having a special New Year's dinner with their
close family members and/or friends. The traditional food is generally
turkey. Although some families prefer to decorate with a New Year's pine,
the general attitude is not to decorate anything special. Turkish
celebration starts early in the evening and lasts till early morning.
In Argentina it is a big late dinner (About 11:00 p.m.) and we wait for
midnight. At midnight everybody lights fireworks for half-hour more or less.
1 January people will go swimming in rivers, lakes or public swimming pools.
In Colombia Burning "Mr. Old Year" is a New Year tradition. They fabricate
a big stuffed male doll that represents the old year, stuff the doll with
different materials, sometimes they put some little fireworks in it to make
it more exciting at the time they burn it. Also, they put things inside that
they don't want anymore, objects that can bring sadness or bad memories.
These things will burn with the old year, meaning that they want to forget
all the bad things that happened during the past year. They dress the man
with old clothes from each member of the family. On New Year's Eve at
midnight, they set the doll on fire. This symbolizes burning the past and
getting ready to start a happy New Year without bad memories of the past.
Alfreido Sinclair 1915 who was in the city of Panama Colombia , on 8
December details this custom in one of his paintings on display at the
University of Kansas.
In Switzerland the last day of December the food shops and liquor shops are
crowded. People get home late at seven o'clock, tired from working and
shopping. When the clock turns to 12 o'clock, glasses, full of Poire William
and make a toast for all the good things that happened in the last year.
Dour Swiss kiss everybody not only 3 times, the French tradition, but at
least four times.
In Japan 1 January is New Year's Day, a national holiday and one of the
biggest events on the calendar of annual festivities in Japan. Schools close
for about two weeks of winter holiday before and after New Year's, and most
companies also shut down for New Year break from around 30 December 30 to 3
January . From well before dawn on New Year's Day, people flock to shrines
and temples to pray for a healthy and happy year. This is called hatsu-mode
and is one of the most important rituals of the year. When we greet our
acquaintances, moreover, we say "Akemashite omedeto gozaimasu" (a happy new
year) to convey our wishes that the year to come will be full of hope and
Special meals called osechi ryori, prepared at the end of the year before,
are eaten on January 1-3. They consist of traditional dishes like boiled
beans, broiled fish, and su-no-mono (sliced vegetables and seafood dressed
with sweet vinegar), and it's served in a nest of boxes. The reason boxes
are used is because they can easily be preserved by stacking, freeing people
from the need to do any cooking over the holidays.
Until about a few decades ago, children spent New Year's engaged in such
traditional pastimes as flying kites, koma (spinning tops), and playing
iroha karuta (a traditional Japanese card game), hanetsuki (a type of
badminton played with wooden paddles and shuttlecocks), fuku warai (a
contest where blindfolded players take turns arranging parts of a face), and
sugoroku (Japanese variety parcheesi). None of these pastimes are played
very much by the these days, Computer and TV have changed Japan as well as
the rest of the world..There is an excellent review of this phenomena in Ian
Sinclair's Book "Birth of the Box. The Story of television, Sigma Press,
One thing children look forward to doing on New Year morning is reading
nengajo (New Year greeting cards) from friends and acquaintances. But the
biggest treat, no doubt, is receiving otoshidama (money given as a gift at
the beginning of a year) from parents, relatives, and other adults they meet
during New Year. In August 2002 at the inaugural FIFA women's under-19
Christine Sinclair of Burnaby, B.C. scored two goals and goalkeeper Erin
McLeod as Canada blanked Japan 4-0 at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium
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