New Years Traditions Celebrated Around the World

Written by Meghan Dunster, Lainey Lynch, and Ryan Wright

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Whether it’s watching the ball drop in Times Square or eating twelve grapes in Spain, each culture celebrates New Year’s Day as a time to start fresh with a clean slate. Around the world, New Year’s Day is enriched in different cultural activities with unique food, festivities, and traditions.

Although America is a relatively new country, it has become rich with its own traditions to celebrate this world-wide holiday. Being composed of diverse people and cultures, America has picked up some traditions along the way. Common American New Year’s traditions consist of watching the ball drop in Times Square, drinking champagne, kissing someone when the clock strikes midnight, and throwing glitter to celebrate.

Some families even start their own traditions.“We drink apple cider in our family and make spring rolls,” says junior Karis Fletcher.

Other more common traditions in the United States include throwing tinsel or eating black eyed peas, predominantly a southern tradition. Unlike the American holiday when New Years is celebrated on December 31 and January 1, Chinese New Year is celebrated on January 25, since they follow a different calendar. Different parts of China celebrate different traditions, but New Year’s Eve dinner is one of the most common. This lets all family members who live far away have a reunion.

English Teacher In Sim’s nieces and nephew celebrate the Chinese New Year. Photo by David Noland.

“Our family will invite our Chinese American friends to dinner with traditional Chinese food,” said Annie Zhang. The main dish to eat during dinner is fish and dumplings, which signifies prosperity. “Afterwards, the adults play card games and mahjong,” said Zhang.

After the clock strikes 12:00PM on New Year’s day, fireworks are released to represent purifying the new year.

Chinese set off fireworks to represent the driving of evil out of the new year, and whoever lights the first firework is said to have good luck. The Chinese prefer red decorations, red fireworks, and red envelopes. The red packets are gifts filled with money from grandparents and adults to children. The money is gifted to the children to keep them healthy and to suppress evil that comes their way. Americans and Chinese also celebrate by making New Year’s resolutions, hoping to bring about motivation and good fortune.

For Spain, it is believed that luck is brought into the new year by eating twelve grapes, a tradition derived from Spain that has been Americanized throughout the years. In Spain, the parties held are grand and the festivities involving a lot of family bonding. Gold objects are often placed around the house, and gifts such as cookies and a coin are given to bring about monetary success. It is said that if you save a coin along with one of the cookies, you will be granted fortune in the new year.

Photo by Jennifer Piercy. Juniors Charley Piercy, Peyton Tarrant, and Ava Eckenrode celebrate New Year’s Eve festivities at a party.

Unlike most new year’s traditions, the drinking of Cava, a spanish sparkling wine, begins after midnight. Traditionally, lentil soup is made for lunch to bring wealth into the new year. Tradition says that each of the lentils in one bowl represents a coin, therefore eating a bowl for lunch will grant financial luck to anyone who tries the delicious soup.

Firework show to celebrate the new year. Photo by Meghan Dunster.