It is that time of the year again – the New Year is almost here. Now is the time to make new resolutions, wishes and have great hopes for the coming year. While New Year’s Eve is a night to spend with family and friends and may be just another night for going out and partying, there are very interesting traditions around the world for celebrating the coming of a new year. From eating a certain amount of grapes to burning effigies, here is a look at some of the weird traditions certain nations have to welcome a new year.
New Year’s Eve in Turkey
New Year’s Eve was recognized in Turkey in 1925 with the switch from the Islamic calendar to the Gregorian calendar, and the first celebrations were made at home on Dec. 31, 1925, welcoming 1926. Then, in 1935 it was accepted as a national holiday and a national lottery accompanied it. The Tayyare (meaning airplane in Turkish) Lottery was announced each year at 12:00 a.m. on New Year’s Eve on the radio. And soon, as the next day was a holiday, people started celebrating it with their loved ones at homes, restaurants and hotels and announcing the lottery became a tradition of New Year’s Eve, with TRT (Turkish Radio and Television) hosting the draw on Dec. 31 each year.
When we look at the history of the tradition, it is evident that it is not a new tradition as even the Göktürks celebrated the New Year. However, since the calendar used was different back then, the beginning of the year was in March according to the Gregorian calendar. Yet, the traditions have survived until today. Some celebrate it by writing their wishes and tying them to trees, while others simply welcome it surrounded by family and friends and offering a big meal to all those invited and with a big countdown to 12:00 a.m.
Scotland’s Great Balls of Fire
Scotland pays homage to the Vikings as the custom of parading through the streets with blazing balls of fire continues to this day, especially in Stonehaven. The walk ends at the harbor where people throw their fireballs into the water, while making wishes for the New Year.The New Year is “Hogmanay” in Scottish, and since Christmas was not a public celebration until the end of the 1950s, it remains one of their biggest holidays. The tradition is thought to be from Norse invaders when they first witnessed the winter solstice, and the celebrations continue for days with balls of wire, paper or other materials being burned.
108 bells for spiritual cleanse
As Japan has a significant number of Buddhists, their tradition of ringing 108 bells continues during New Year’s Eve. The belief is that it brings cleanness. In addition, smiling while going through the first hours of the new year is also thought to bring good luck, so do not be alarmed if the whole of Japan is ringing bells and smiling while the clocks hit midnight on Dec. 31.
Wishing animals a happy New Year
In Belgium, livestock are taken very seriously as farmers have a habit of wishing their cows and other cattle good luck. While no one is really sure about where this tradition came from, all animals do deserve a nice New Year wish.
This tradition is also observed in Romania, but in addition, people wear bear costumes to chase off evil spirits. The bear is believed to be a protector in Romanian mythology.
Out with the old, in with the new
As the saying goes, what makes more sense than getting rid of old stuff before welcoming a brand new calendar year? South Africa continues this tradition, which was possibly brought from Europe – as the Italians have the same tradition. They like to throw out old or unused household goods out the window on New Year’s Eve. Do not be alarmed if you come across old TVs or cups when you are walking down the streets of Johannesburg on New Year’s Eve. Hopefully none falls on the head of anyone near.
Ecuador has an interesting tradition of burning effigies, which represent the ending year, to burn all the bad karma from it. These effigies range from scarecrows filled with paper to photographs from the previous year or even to some politicians and personal photos that represent the year that is ending. Before the burning, men might go around asking for money for mourning the characters that are to be burned soon.
Panama has the same tradition and believes that it will bring good luck to burn effigies of famous people.
Jump over the waves and please a goddess
While wearing a certain color, white to be exact, is a tradition in Brazil on New Year’s Eve, some go a bit far and head to the sea at midnight. The tradition comes from the goddess known as Lamanja, the “Mother of Waters,” with African origins. She is the protector of fishermen and her worshippers believe jumping over seven waves on New Year’s Eve will win her praise and luck and that she will offer them new opportunities in the coming year. Some believers also throw other offerings, from jewelry to rice into the ocean to win her favor in the New Year.
A bit of molybdomancy
Molybdomancy, in other words using melted lead as a tool for telling one’s future, is practiced in Finland on New Year’s Eve. Jewelry is melted in a pot over the stove, and then the melted metal is poured into cold water to see one’s future according to the metal’s shape. While a ring or heart would mean love, a ship means the New Year will bring many travels.