Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Around the World

Here in the United States we celebrate the New Year with friends and family, at parties, with food and drinks, midnight toasts, fireworks and resolutions of what we plan to change or improve in the New Year.

The biggest celebration in the U.S. is of course, in New York city, with the "ball dropping" on top of One Times Square, which is broadcast to all of America, and is a major component of the New Year celebration for many Americans. The 11,875-pound, 12-foot diameter Waterford crystal ball located high above Times Square is lowered, starting at 11:59:00pm and reaching the bottom of its tower 60 seconds later, at the stroke of midnight, and a fireworks show to follow.

Ever wonder how people in other parts of the world celebrate this holiday?

In Australia, celebrations are held around the nation, especially in Sydney, where one of the world's largest fireworks displays draws 1 to 1.5 million people to the harbor. Australia is one of the first countries in the world to celebrate the New Year. Many people also run into the ocean on New Year’s Day in Australia.
In many European countries, the New Year is greeted with private fireworks. This day is also the occasion to make bonfires of discarded Christmas trees in some countries.

In Brazil, celebrations are held around the nation. Most famous is the celebration in Rio de Janeiro which occurs in Copacabana beach, drawing 1.5 to 2.5 million people.
In Scotland, there are many special customs associated with the New Year. These are a part of the Scottish celebration Hogmanay, the Scots name for the New Year. The World famous street party in Princes Street in Edinburgh is one of the examples of Hogmanay events.

In Russia, the New Year is greeted by fireworks and drinking champagne. The New Year is considered a family celebration, with lavish dinner tables and gifts. The president of Russia normally counts down the final seconds of the "old year", as it is called in Russia. A giant clock tower chimes in the New Year, and it is customary to make a wish with each chime.

The French call New Year's Eve "la Saint-Sylvestre". It is usually celebrated with a feast called le Réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre. This feast customarily includes special dishes like foie gras and drinks like champagne. The celebration can be a simple, intimate dinner with friends and family or a much fancier ball (une soirée dansante).

In South Korea, the most popular way of celebrating New Year's Day is to travel to Jung dong jin, the place on the peninsula where the Sun can first be seen each day.

In Davos, Switzerland, the final match of the Spengler Cup ice hockey Tournament is usually held on this day by tradition.

In Indonesia, the local government of Jakarta often holds a music show, a New Year’s countdown, and fireworks party in New Year's Eve celebration.

In the Philippines, people light fireworks, loud firecrackers, booming sound system, bamboo canons as well as make a lot of noise with the belief that the noises would scare evil spirits away and prevent them from bringing bad luck to the coming New Year.

In Japan, New Year's Eve is a preparation day to welcome Toshigami, New Year’s god. Therefore, traditionally, people clean their home and prepare Kadomatsu and/or Shimenawa to welcome the god before New Year's Eve.

In Mexico, the people eat a grape with each of the twelve chimes of the bell during the New Year countdown, while making a wish with each one. Also on New Year's Eve, those who want to find love in the New Year wear red underwear and yellow if they want money.

In Greece, families and relatives switch off the lights at midnight, and then celebrate by cutting the "vassilopita" (Basil's pie) which usually contains one coin or equivalent; whoever wins expects luck for the whole year. After the pie, a traditional game of cards called "triantaena" follows, similar to black jack.
London celebrates the New Year with a New Year's Day parade.

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