New Years around the World

2015 is coming to an end, and a new year is just around the corner. Whether you prefer to be at home with close friends and family, sipping champagne, or in a big city, surrounded by people watching a shiny ball slide down a pole, people all around the world will soon be welcoming the coming of a new year.  Let’s find out some of the different traditions around the globe.

Australia and New Zealand will be the first countries to welcome 2016. Down under in the southern hemisphere, they are in the middle of summer, so they traditionally celebrate the New Year on the beach with a bon-fire, and of course beautiful, traditional fireworks.

The Japanese have a tradition of giving money to children in a decorated envelope. They also make Mochi, decorative rice cakes which are eaten at the beginning of the New Year celebrations. Japanese celebrate the New Year for two weeks with two different festivals.

In Romania, celebrators dress up in animal furs or bear costumes and perform the traditional Bear Dance, traditionally thought to help ward off evil.

In Scotland, the New Year is such a big deal that they have their own name for it: Hogmanay.  Hogmanay has been celebrated for centuries with traditions such as bonfires and lighting tar barrels on fire before rolling them down a hill. Giant fireballs were also lit, signifying the power of the sun. Another traditional event was the “first footing” where a dark man would be the first to enter a home, bringing shortbread, whiskey, black buns and more offerings. Some of these customs are still celebrated in smaller, more traditional communities in Scotland.

More regions that use symbolic fire include Columbia, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. People try to forget the sadness of the old year by dressing it up and burning it. Every year, communities in these countries make a life-sized doll and dress it using donated clothes from family members.  The doll, named Mr. Old Year, represents the bad memories from the past year, and the people believe that burning these memories will help bring in happiness for the next year.

In Germany, people have a tradition of predicting what the future holds. On New Year’s Eve, Germans practice a tradition called Bleigiessen, where they melt lead in a spoon over a candle, then pour it into cold water. As the lead hardens in the cold water, it begins to take a shape. Although these metallic sculptures come out pretty abstract, with a little imagination one can interpret what the shapes symbolize and what may come in the next year.

Some countries do not celebrate the New Year on January first, but instead in a different part of the year. In China, Thailand, and a few other Asian countries, people celebrate the Lunar New Year. Citizens of Israel, along with Jews around the world, celebrate the Jewish New Year Rosh Hashanah, usually taking place in September or October. The Islamic New Year is celebrated around the world by many Muslims, bringing in the first month, Muharram.

Now you know how some cultures around the world celebrate the New Year. Whatever your plans are for the transition from 2015 to 2016, make sure to check out Lionbridge onDemand for any language services you may need.