By Allison Shoaf
New Years is celebrated worldwide, in many ways and at different times. It depends solely on where one lives. It could be celebrated with fireworks, music, food, activities, public events, prayers, etc. The manner of celebrations is completely dependent on culture, people, and destination.
Germany, depending on the region, there are two unique activities to celebrate New Year’s Eve. One can watch an 18-minute black and white British comedy sketch called “Dinner for One” where a woman named Miss Sophie celebrates her 90th birthday with her butler. One may also pour lead or Bleigießen from a candle, melting a small piece of lead or tin, pour into cold water and as it cools it reveals the person’s fate for the upcoming year.
In Brazil, a popular tradition among Brazilians is to Spend New Year’s Eve at the beach. They build small boats filled with gifts for the goddess of the ocean, Yemanja (“New Year’s Eve Celebrated Around the World – Texas New …”). If the boat does not come back to shore it is believed she’ll honor the request for the new year. People wear white clothes, believing the new year will bring peace and positive feelings. They may buy new underwear with specific coloring depending on what they hope for the new year. It is a tradition to eat lentils at New Year. It’s supposed to stand for money-meaning good fortune for the year ahead.
The Philippines celebrates with a fruit bowl. They prepare a display of 12 different round fruits at the dining table on New Year’s Eve to wish everyone prosperity for the new year ahead. The round fruit symbolizes wealth, much the shape of coins and the 12 fruits correspond for each month. The fruits are eaten within the following few days. Spain starts off the new year by eating 12 grapes. It symbolizes each strike of the clock before midnight. It is practiced in other countries such as Mexico. This started in the 19th century and was to ward off evil. Grapes are supposed to bring one prosperity and good luck. One of the most popular ways to celebrate New Year is a large fireworks display. This takes place all over the world as it hits midnight. A place one can see such displays is New Zealand, Australia, and Canada.
Denmark smashes plates on doorsteps to bring good luck over the next 12 months. Places such as New York, at center of Time Square, a countdown occurs and at midnight a giant glowing ball called the ball drop is done to signal the start of the New Year. Similar traditions occur. Vincennes, Indiana drop watermelon. In Romania people dress up as dancing bears to chase away any evil spirits. Bears according to old Romanian stories protect and heal people. Some places such as Japan and South Korea ring bells to start the new year. In Japan they ring bells 108 times. South African people start by throwing out any unwanted items. They throw old furniture out of windows. South Americans walk around with an empty suitcase. This is called a “suitcase walk” meaning they will have a full year of adventures ahead.
Many make New Year’s resolutions such as losing weight, exercising, giving up smoking, or another health focused change. New Year’s celebrations have been around for about 4,000 years or more. Ancient New Year’s resolutions involved making promises and sacrifices to gods, praying for harvest, and swearing to repay debts in hope that spiritual figures would bless them and/or others with good fortune. It dates back around 3000 B.C., the start of the Bronze Age. In ancient Egypt, the people took part in a celebration called Wepet Renpet which translates to “opening of the year.” The celebration had plenty of food, alcohol, and sex. The celebration coincides with the annual flooding of the Nile River.
The first people ever considered to make new year’s resolutions are the Babylonians. The citizens swore to pay off debts to their gods and promised to return borrowed goods.
Roman Emperor Julius Caesar changed the roman calendar and created the New Year’s holiday after the longest year in history. He added an extra day to the calendar every four years, so the calendar does not fall out of alignment with Earth’s revolution around the sun. It is now known as leap year. Ancient Romans would make offerings to the god Janus in hopes he would bestow good fortune on them. Janus was said to have two faces, one looking to the new year and one looking to the past year.
In an interview, Mrs. Black, a Lenape Instructional Assistant, and Mrs. Smith, a Lenape Teacher, were asked about New Year’s Celebrations. Some questions they considered were: How does your family celebrate New Year’s? Have you ever celebrated New Year’s Eve in a foreign place? If no, where is one place you would like to spend it?
Mrs. Black recalls before Covid that they would visit or vacation in a different state or attraction for the New Year. Mrs. Black and her family had visited New York City, Key West, California, Hot Springs Arkansas. Since Covid, they spent it enjoying camping up North. She had not been in any foreign country but has a goal to visit all 50 states and says she has 9 more states to visit. Mrs. Smith says she celebrates with aunts, uncles, and cousins. They play cards, eat sauerkraut, pork and chicken with waffles, pork roots Ahad, and chicken scratches. Mrs. Smith had traveled to England, Italy, and Spain for the New Year.
The first “New Year Resolution” was mentioned in a Boston newspaper in 1813. Since then, New Year’s celebrations and resolutions have had significant change. One can celebrate with family, friends, strangers, etc. It is to celebrate the importance of a New Year and new beginnings, perhaps change, promises, or even prayers.
“How People Celebrate New Year’s around the World.” Division of Student Affairs, 21 Dec. 2020, www.colorado.edu/studentaffairs/2020/12/21/how-people-celebrate-new-years-around-world. Accessed 30 Sept. 2021.
“How Do People Celebrate New Year around the World? – CBBC Newsround.” Www.bbc.co.uk, 31 Dec. 2020, www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/38341760. Accessed 30 Sept. 2021.
Capritto, Amanda. “The History of New Year’s Resolutions and Celebrations.” CNET, 1 Dec. 2020, www.cnet.com/health/the-history-of-new-years-resolutions-and-celebrations/. Accessed 30 Sept. 2021.