10 Interesting New Year’s Traditions from Around the World
There are two celebrations of the new year in China. One celebrates the newest year of the Gregorian calendar on January 1, and the other celebrates the start of the Lunar Year, which takes place between January 21 and February 20, depending on the year.
Chinese New Year celebrations are always extremely lavish. There’s a six-day public holiday, and people take advantage of this time off to indulge in elaborate meals with family and friends, and exchange red envelopes which contain gifts of money. Setting off firecrackers has always been popular, but in recent years elaborate fireworks shows have taken place all across the country. At the stroke of midnight on Chinese New Year, it’s estimated that more than a billion fireworks are set off.
Many of the New Year’s traditions in the Philippines are centered around food. The most important element of the celebratory feast takes places in the days before, as people search diligently to find 12 perfectly round fruits to represent the 12 months of the upcoming year. Watermelons, oranges, and pomelo are all popular choices, but the most popular by far are ubas, imported purple grapes. Noodles are cooked to symbolize a long life, but fish and chicken are avoided as people don’t want to be associated with these scavengers for the rest of the year.
As the old year turns to the new, Filipinos bang pots and pans, light off firecrackers, and shoot guns in the air to make a cacophony loud enough to scare off evil spirits.
In Denmark, the New Year’s festivities start off in a relatively sedated way as most people in the country tune into Queen Margrethe’s New Year’s Eve speech, which takes place around 6 p.m. The Queen summarizes the year, thanks the country, and wishes them a good new year. Most young Danes consider the closing of her speech to be the starting gun for the more alcoholic portion of the evening.
The traditional Danish New Year’s meal is cod with mustard sauce, and after dinner, many people gather around the TV to watch a short film called Dinner for One. It’s been played on New Year’s Eve by the Danish national broadcasting company since 1980. At midnight, Danes take pieces of broken crockery and smash them against the doors of their friends’ homes, as a sign of friendship and affection.