New Year New Year is the principal winter holiday, as opposed to Christmas. It is universally recognized as such by both secular and religious people. Whereas New Year is mostly an occasion merely for parties and drinking in the West, most of the traditions associated with Christmas fall on New Year in Russia. The welcoming of the new year is considered the most significant occasion of the winter.
ANCIENT NEW YEARS
The celebration of the new year is the oldest of all holidays. It was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4000 years ago. In the years around 2000 BC, the Babylonian New Year began with the first New Moon after the Vernal Equinox (first day of spring). The beginning of spring is a logical time to start a new year. After all, it is the season of rebirth, of planting new crops, and of blossoming. January 1, on the other hand, has no astronomical nor agricultural significance. It is purely arbitrary.
The Romans continued to observe the new year in late March, but their calendar was continually tampered with by various emperors so that the calendar soon became out of synchronization with the sun.
In order to set the calendar right, the Roman senate, in 153 BC, declared January 1 to be the beginning of the new year. But tampering continued until Julius Caesar, in 46 BC, established what has come to be known as the Julian Calendar. It again established January 1 as the new year. But in order to synchronize the calendar with the sun, Caesar had to let the previous year drag on for 445 days.
The New Year is celebrated differently around the world.
British New Year
In Britain the custom of first footing is practiced. The first male visitor to the house after midnight is usually supposed to bring good luck. Usually they bring a gift like money, bread, or coal, which is done to ensure the family, will have plenty of these things all the year to come. The first person must not be blond, red-haired or women as these people are supposedly bad luck.
The Druids gave a gift of twigs from the mistletoe, as this was a plant that was sacred to them as a magic source of fertility. It would bestow on the recipient a fruitful year in the number of children, as well as the amount of cattle and the amount of crop.
United States of America New Year
American New Years Customs such as Dance parties are thrown on New Year's Eve to see in the year. Times Square in New York City has a ball drop hosted by the television celebrity Dick Clark. This is broadcast all over the United States. At the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve people will kiss or honk car horns. Paper blowers and whistles are blown. A soul food of black-eyed peas and rice called Hoppin' John is eaten by some. Other foods that are eaten at New Year are cake and champagne.
In the US they believe that black-eyed beans are lucky.
They also watch the Championship football games in stadiums or on their televisions. They also in New York's Time Square they watch for the moment when a giant brightly colored electric apple is lowered to the ground at which time they start saying Happy New Year.
New Year Celebrations in Russia
New Year is more of a winter vacation in Russia. Schools remain closed from January 1 till January 13. The main New Year celebrations begin from night of December 31. People usually prefer to spend the day with their friends and family members. Party clubs, hotels and discotheques are all jammed up at the time of New Year. The main New Year celebrations come to an end on January 13th, when the country celebrates the Old - Style New Year. This day is not declared as a public holiday but is celebrated to mark the beginning of the year according to the Julian calendar.
New Year verve can be seen by the family get-together, use of fireworks, delicious meals etc. The most important part of the New Year activities is the sumptuous dinner with light music and champagne. The most important meals include meat, green peas, pickles, mayonnaise, onion, carrots and potatoes.
Russians also follow the tradition of listening to the New Year Speech from the President on New Year's Day. There are some more fascinating traditions followed at the time of New Year and the famous one is the tradition of fortune telling. Many people especially women and unmarried girls are excited to know about their future indulge in this acitivity.
Brazilian New Year
In Brazil the lentil is believed to signify wealth, so on the first day of the New Year they serve lentil soup or lentils and rice.
In Brazil on New Year’s Eve priestesses of the local macumba voodoo cult dress in blue skirts and white blouses for a ceremony dedicated to the goddess of water, Yemanja. A sacrificial boat laden with flowers, candles and jewelery is pushed out to sea from Brazil's famous Ipenama beach in Rio de Janeiro.
Australian New Year
In Australia they celebrate the New Year on January 1. This day is a public holiday and many people have picnics and camp out on the beach.
They have parties that start on December 31 and at midnight they start to make noise with whistles and rattles, car horns and church bells. To ring in the New Year.
In Australia New Year is a day for outdoor activities such as rodeos, picnic races and surf carnivals.
French New Year
In France dinner parties are thrown for the entire family. People exchange presents and greeting cards. People began sending fake gifts on April first which originally culminated in the New Year feast of course these gifts were only as a joke on those who previously had received their New Year's gifts, on that day.
Poisson d'avril or April fish is the name the French apply to one who is fooled or mocked on April first. Confectioners' windows display chocolate fish on this day and many friends anonymously send each other humorous postcards imprinted with pictures of fish.
The French adopted the reformed calendar in 1582 which changed the beginning of the New Year from March 25 to January first.
German New Year
In Germany people would drop molten lead into cold water and try to tell the future from the shape it made. A heart or ring shape meant a wedding, a ship a journey, and a pig plenty of food in the year ahead.
People also would leave a bit of every food eaten on New Year's Eve on their plate until after Midnight as a way of ensuring a well-stocked larder. Carp was included as it was thought to bring wealth.
Netherlands New Year
In the Netherlands people burn Christmas trees on street bonfires and let off fireworks to ring in the New Year and as a way of driving out the spirits of the old year.
Italian New Year
Romans prepare for the New Year festival which is known as January Kalends by decorating their houses with lights and greenery. The festival lasts for three days, during this time they hold feasts and exchange gifts which were carefully chosen for their luck-bringing properties these include such things as sweets or honey to ensure sweetness and peace as well as Gold, Silver or money for prosperity. Lamps for a year filled with light.
They might also go to the Roman emperor and present him with a gift and wish him good fortune for the year ahead. Other politicians received gifts as well.
Normal rules of the society went on hold during the New Year festivities.
Chinese New Year
The Chinese New Year "Yuan Tan" takes place between January 21 and February 20. The exact date is fixed by the lunar calendar, in which a new moon marks the beginning of each new month.
For many families, it is a time for feasting, visiting relatives and friends, but in the city a spectacular procession takes place. The celebrations are based on bringing luck, health, happiness, and wealth till the next year. They clean their houses to rid them of lasts year's bad luck before the celebrations begin.
There are street parades where thousands of people line the streets to watch the procession of floats in the New Year parade. Dancing dragons and lions weave their way through the crowded streets. The dragon is associated with longevity and wealth. Inside the costumes are 50 dancers, twisting and turning the dragon's long silk body and blinking eyes.