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New Year’s Around the World

New Year's celebrations in Cambodia

New Year’s celebrations in Cambodia [photo credit: Salym Fayad, via CultureGrams photo gallery]

The New Year is coming up fast, and people around the world are preparing to celebrate. In fact, in some countries, New Year’s celebrations are the largest of the year. Check out these traditions from around the world, via CultureGrams. How are they different from (or the same as) the way you celebrate the New Year?

Burkina Faso
Burkinabè of all creeds join together to celebrate the New Year. For New Year’s Eve, adults often buy or sew new clothes or uniforms. Children typically dress in their best clothes and do the sambèsambè in the streets or at their friends’ homes. Catholic children often build crèches in front of their homes. Most Christians go to church and then return home to celebrate with food, drink, and music. In both rural and urban areas, young men often hold parties for their male and female friends that involve dancing, eating, and drinking until dawn. At midnight, they typically listen to a traditional New Year’s song and light firecrackers. In rural areas, the parties are usually held outside. To wish each other a happy New Year, men and women usually kiss each other on the cheek, and men often bump their foreheads together four times. On New Year’s Day, food and drink are served to guests, and many people pay social visits to their friends and family.

Colombia
New Year’s is surrounded by many superstitions, or agüeros. For example, on New Year’s Eve, people may wear yellow underwear as a symbol of good fortune. Some put lentils in their pockets, representing abundance. Those wishing to travel in the new year might run around the block carrying a suitcase at midnight. More generally, at midnight, people drink champagne and eat 12 grapes, one for each month of good fortune in the new year. In rural areas, people make dolls stuffed with newspaper and leave them at the entrances to their houses for a few days before the new year. These dolls, called año viejo (old year), represent the bad that people want to eliminate from the current year before moving on to the next one. They are burned on 31 December at midnight, amidst cheering, drinks, and music.

Burning of an año viejo doll in Colombia

Burning of an año viejo doll in Colombia [photo credit: Salym Fayad, via CultureGrams photo gallery]

Georgia
New Year’s is one of the most popular holidays in Georgia. Families usually celebrate New Year’s together, but parties are also arranged. On New Year’s Eve, families celebrate by eating gozinaki (a traditional food made of honey and walnuts), turkey satsivi (turkey with a walnut sauce), roast piglet, ham, khachapuri  (cheese in a wheat-flour dough), mchadi (bread made of corn flour), fish, fruit, nuts, and churchkhela (walnuts, chestnuts, or almonds strung on twine and then dipped in a grape syrup and hung to dry). The first person who comes to a home after midnight is called the first footer. Traditionally, he was chosen by the family, and no one else was allowed to enter the home before him. If the first footer is considered a lucky person in everyday life, he is thought to bring luck, prosperity, and health to the family. Families choose a different first footer the next year if the previous one is thought to have brought the family bad luck over the past year. Most families set up their Christmas tree on New Year’s Eve. Some families exchange presents on New Year’s Day. Toblisbabua (Snow Father, like Santa Claus) brings presents to some families; other families hide presents around the house for children to find.

You can find many more New Year’s traditions from around the world in the Holidays sections of CultureGrams World and Kids editions!

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