What Does New Year’s Celebration Look Like in Various Cultures?
New Year’s traditions look quite different globally depending on the cultural values and religious beliefs of people. Be it Chinese New Year or the modern way of celebrating the new year in the United States, New Year celebrations are full of joy and festivities. No matter how many New Year resolutions you make and are able to achieve, you should celebrate the New Year to its fullest to bring in some good luck energy in your life for the coming year.
Let’s have a look at how the New Year celebrations look around the world and what the New Year 2024 would look like in different regions and cultures. It’s going to be an interesting read, so stay tuned.
How Do People Celebrate Their New Year World Wide?
New Year celebrations say a lot about the customers and values of a country. People perform different rituals on New Year’s to have a festive and cheerful start to the new year. Here is how people celebrate the new year in different cultures globally.
United States New Year
The United States New Year is full of festivity, partying, and entertainment. Watching the ball drop is a popular New Year tradition in the country. To see the ball drop at midnight of the new year, people gather in Times Square or turn on their TVs to watch it through live streaming. This custom was first started while entering 1908 by Adolph Ochs (the owner of the New York Times). At that time, the event was created to get the attention of people towards their headquarters. Now, it has become a New Year ritual and an essential part of New Year’s Eve celebrations. People in the United States cut cakes and arrange New Year parties with their friends and loved ones. Families gather to have a traditional meal dinner to spend a good time together on New Year.
Chinese New Year
It’s a lunar New Year that lasts for 15 days and is celebrated across China. During this time, Chinese families prepare meals, clean out their houses, put lucky champs on their doors, and create red money envelopes. It is the time to meet with loved ones and celebrate the festivity of New Year together. People lit fireworks and firecrackers to ward off the evil spirits. Red envelopes, known as “Hong bao”, are designed with good luck wishes written on them. These envelopes are filled with money for children, friends, and family. These envelopes can be given to anyone; however, some believe that they should not be given to married couples or anyone making their own money.
During the New Year holidays, Chinese families prepare lavish feasts. Food dishes may include roasted meat, steamed dumplings, stir fry vegetables, seafood, and arrowroot.
Spanish New Year
In Spain, New Year’s Eve is called Noche Vieja, which means old night. People stay up till midnight on New Year’s Eve, and even the last few seconds left have to eat 12 grapes. Eating 12 grapes is a common tradition in Spain to start their New Year. These 12 grapes symbolize 12 strikes of the clock. This New Year custom was first started in the 19th century as a practice to keep evil spirits away. This practice is always believed to bring good luck and prosperity for the coming year. But you have to finish all pieces of graphs within a few seconds before the clock strikes 12 at midnight of New Year. It is a weird New Year tradition but is considered quite significant in Spain.
Apart from eating grapes, people hold money in their hands at midnight, clean their houses, and throw water out of the window to bring in good luck and throw away bad energies.
Georgian New Year
The new year followed by the Gregorian calendar is the most familiar new year tradition celebrated around the world. New years are not always celebrated on January 1, there are other dates that existed in history. The Georgian people celebrate the new year with friends and families, spending quality time with each other. People make New Year’s resolutions and have a nice dinner together.
People light up their houses and do a lot of fireworks to welcome the new year with good energy. If you are a foodie, you would love to have their famous dessert “Kozinski” made with nuts and honey.
The celebration of the new year keeps going for two to three days. People love to travel, have traditional feasts, and make the most of their New Year holidays. It is also believed a well-spent new year sets the tone for an amazing year ahead.
Korean New Year
The Korean New Year, also known as Seollal, is one of the most significant events in South Korea. It is the Lunar New Year that started on 22 January 2023, this year. It is a three-day holiday on New Year and one day before and after. Just like Chinese New Year, they also follow the 12 animal years from the Chinese Zodiac. Every year belongs to one animal, and after every 12 years, the pattern repeats itself.
On the New Year holiday, Korean families would gather together and spend quality time with each other. People give gifts (honey, seafood, sweets, or ginseng) to their families, friends, and loved ones. People wear traditional clothes and visit relatives, parents, and grandparents. All family members sit together and share a meal. Children receive cash from their elders. People like to eat traditional dishes during New Year, such as “Tteokguk”, a rice cake soup, and “Jeon”, a type of Korean pancake made of meat, Zucchini, onions, and mushrooms.
Japanese New Year
In Japan, people’s New Year is full of festivity, celebration, and cheerfulness. To eliminate the bad energies from home, people do deep cleaning of their houses. All places of houses are cleaned that otherwise remain untouched throughout the year. Food is a big part of New Year celebrations. There are certain specialties of foods consumed on New Year, such as Toshikoshi Soba, which is a sort of buckwheat noodle. Then there is Ozouni, which is a soup dish made with chicken and other vegetables.
Similar to Chinese and Korean traditions, the Japanese also give money envelopes to children. It is the main reason why children look forward to the New Year. People also buy Fukubukuro, a kind of surprise bag; buyers don’t really know what’s in the bag while buying them from different retailers.
Islamic New Year
The Islamic New Year starts with Muharram, which is the first month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Muharram is the second holiest month for Muslims after Ramadan (the month of fasting). However, there is a slight difference between the customs of Shia and Sunni Muslims. Because of the battle of Karbala fought in this month in 680 AD, Muslims don’t really celebrate their new year. They make dua from the martyrs of Karbala and fast during the Ashura days, the 9th and 10th of Muharram.
Muslims give charity to the poor and needy and distribute food in their neighborhood. Haleem is a popular food dish made from meat and lentils that are prepared in large pots and distributed among relatives and needy people.
Iranian New Year
Also known as Nowruz, it is the Iranian New Year that starts with spring with the new harvest of the season. People in Iran have been celebrating Nowruz for 3000 years, and their traditions are somewhere connected to the Zoroastrian religion. Persian people had been practicing this religion before they converted to Islam. Nowruz is one of the biggest celebrations for the Iranian people. To welcome the new year, they clean out their houses, and this practice is known as Khaane Takaani.
They put wheat and lentils in a flat dish a few days ahead of Nowruz. They call it Sabah. Moreover, they greet, kiss, and hug each other as a new year’s gratitude. They also give gifts and money to children and young adults on this occasion. During Nowruz, Iranian people consume special food, such as sweets, nuts, raisins, and fruits. Koukou sabzi is another dish prepared and consumed by Iranians. People may also go outside to visit parks and other places for picnics.
Jewish New Years
Rosh Hashanah, meaning head of the year, is the Jewish New Year which comes on the 1st and 2nd day of Tishrei, the Hebrew lunar calendar. During their new year, they eat foods such as pomegranate seeds, which signify goodness and virtue. They also eat fish heads in the hope of becoming a leader, not a follower.
They also eat a lot of carrots that are believed to tear up all the evil forces against Jewish people. Apples dipped in honey are a famous New Year sweet. They recite a prayer before eating honey-dipped apples and hope for a year full of goodness. They also recite spiritual and religious poems from their book “Machzor”.
Russian New Year
Novy God is the Russian New Year that they like to celebrate with fireworks, dinners, and parties. The new year is mostly celebrated on 1 January, and also on 14 January, and both dates have some historical significance and reasoning. Based on your religious beliefs, you can choose any date, and it is also fine if you like to celebrate the new year twice. People like to spend New Year’s Eve with their loved ones and have a great time and food together. They listen to music or watch a classic rom-com. Russians like to start their new year by cleaning their houses, taking a bath, and letting go of old fights.
There is a tradition that they write their wishes on a piece of paper, burn it, and put the ashes into a glass of beverage. And, of course, the President’s speech is also a must-watch for every Russian.