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A History of New Year Celebrations

a history of new year celebrations

A History of New Year Celebrations.

a history of new year celebrationsDid you know that New Year’s is the most widely celebrated public holiday in the world? Friends and family gather together everywhere on the night of December 31st to welcome the coming of the new year. Usually accompanied by fireworks and merry revelry, the tolling of the midnight hour seems almost magical, promising a bright and hopeful future while saying goodbye to the past. A History of New Year Celebrations.

But though it seems natural that January 1st is the first day of the new year in most world cultures, the celebration of New Year’s in January is a relatively new tradition. The first known record of a New Year celebration is found in 2000 B.C. Mesopotamia. Unlike the modern world, the ancient Mesopotamians did not celebrate New Year’s Day in January, but rather in mid-March! This tradition was then slightly adjusted by the early Romans who designated March 1 to be the beginning of the new year. It was not until 153 B.C. that the Romans decided to change the date of the new year from March 1 to January 1. This change happened because newly elected Roman officials began their term in January, and so January was meant to mark the beginning of each ‘civil’ year. About 100 years later, the famous Roman emperor Julius Caesar introduced a new solar calendar and decreed that January 1st was to be the definitive start of the new solar year. With the coming of the Middle Ages, January 1st lost its status as New Year’s day and was replaced by various dates in March and December, keeping with more Christian-themed events, such as the birth of Jesus Christ. Finally, in 1582, the Gregorian calendar was adopted throughout Europe, and with it, January 1st was once again known as the beginning of the new year as we know it today. A History of New Year Celebrations.

Though some cultures celebrate their own new year on different dates (such as Songkran in April in Thailand or the Chinese New Year in February), the annual celebration of the world-wide New Year on January 1st is still widely upheld. There are many popular traditions that mark the coming of the new year – including fireworks, lanterns, parades and festivals, and of course, gift-giving. But regardless of the particular customs each country or region may have, there is no doubt that New Year’s Eve and Day are holiday celebrations like no other, uniting the people of Earth in a moment of expectation and excitement for what is to come! A History of New Year Celebrations.

A History of New Year Celebrations.

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Celebrating the New Year in Great Britain

celebrating the new year in great britain

Celebrating the New Year in Great Britain

celebrating the new year in great britainGreat Britain celebrates New Year’s from the night of December 31st to the early morning of January 1st. When the clock sounds midnight, people all over the island rejoice and hug one another. Champagne is drunk by many and children are allowed to stay up past their usual bedtimes. In the past few years, fireworks have also become a popular New Year’s Eve tradition – though this was not always the case, as Christmas used to be more widely celebrated by the British people. Though the whole island celebrates this holiday, each of Britain’s countries celebrates New Year’s in their own special way. Celebrating the New Year in Great Britain.

In England, for example, when Big Ben officially announces the midnight hour, everyone opens their back doors in order to let the passing year out once and for all. Simultaneously, English people then ask the first dark-haired stranger they see to come through the door carrying salt, coal, and bread. These particular items reflect good luck and symbolize the three things that household will have enough of in the coming year: food (bread), money (salt), and warmth (coal). But any blonde or red-haired person, or any female, is not welcome to come into the house – as they symbolize future bad luck. Celebrating the New Year in Great Britain.

Scotland, like England, has its own traditional customs set aside for this special day. The New Year’s celebration in Scotland is known as “Hogmanay,” a word that comes from a type of cake that children eat on New Year’s Eve. From the stroke of midnight, Scottish people observe the tradition of ‘first footing’ in which the first person to set foot in a residence on the new year will affect the futures of those who live there. Like England, strangers are preferred, though they may be either dark-haired or fair-haired depending on the region. In addition to this tradition, Scotland holds a giant New Year’s Eve party every year, extending from Prince’s Street to the Edinburgh castle, though lately tickets have been hard to acquire! Celebrating the New Year in Great Britain.

Lastly, in Wales, New Year’s Eve is called “Nos Galan” and New Year’s Day is called “Dydd Calan,” while the whole celebration is known as “Calennig”. The tradition of letting out the old year through the back door and letting a visitor in the front door is followed similarly here, but there are some minor differences. For example, if the first visitor is a woman and a man opens the door, this is bad luck. Most people journey to the Welsh capital of Cardiff to ring in the new year with friends and family, enjoying fireworks and festival rides. Celebrating the New Year in Great Britain.

Celebrating the New Year in Great Britain

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New Year Around the World

new year around the world

New Year Around the World 

new year around the worldAlmost every culture across the globe celebrates the New Year in some way. Some of the traditions are shared (ie. the countdown to midnight), and some are very unique (in Columbia people will often carry empty suitcases through the streets for a new year filled with travel). We have collected some of the traditions and customs for welcoming the New Year here, below:
Food and Drinks – New year Around the World.

  • In the Southern United States, black-eyed peas and pork are said to bring good luck in the new year
  • In the Netherlands, ring-shaped treats (ie. donuts) are symbols for simultaneously starting and ending the year; the Dutch also drink hot, spiced wine today New year Around the World.
  • In Ireland, people enjoy pastries called bannocks
  • In Spain, 12 grapes are eaten at midnight for the upcoming 12 sweet months
  • In India and Pakistan, rice is eaten for prosperity
  • In Switzerland, whipped cream is dropped on the floor (and left there!)

Gifts – New year Around the World.

  • In Rome, gilded nuts and coins were offered as tokens of good-will for the New Year
  • In ancient Persia, eggs were the gift of choice for the New Year
  • Early Egyptians offered earthenware flasks for the New Year
  • In Scotland, gifts took the form of coal, shortbread, and silverware

Other Customs – New year Around the World.

  • Making Noise: this one is pretty much ubiquitous; most cultures like to make a lot of noise to bid farewell to the old year and welcome in the new. In Thailand, guns are fired to scare away demons; firecrackers are used in China to dispel the spirits of darkness; other noise-makers around the world include pistols, drums, church bells, sirens, horns, and horns.
  • Making a New Year’s Resolution: this tradition is said to date back to the ancient Babylonians around 2600 BCE; resolutions were adopted by the populace as a means of reflecting on the past and preparing for the future.
  • Cleaning: in Japan, Russia, and other countries throughout the world, cleaning the house was meant to symbolize moving from the previous year and starting the new. In some places, the windows and doors are even left open.
  • Hogmanay: in Scotland, the first to cross a threshold after the New Year is said to predict the year’s fortune. This practice is especially relevant for new brides, mothers, and those with January 1st birthdays.
  • Auld Lang Syne: in the United States, this is the most popular song on New Years that nobody knows the words to. A Canadian named Guy Lombardo heard a Scottish man sing this song, played it in New York City in 1929, and it has been a long-standing tradition ever since.New year Around the World.

There is one other custom you can make a tradition in the New Year; Study English with Education Gateway. Contact Us today and ask for our special New Year’s Promotions. You will be surprised! New year Around the World.

New Year Around the World