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Home / Holidays / New Year Day
 
Holidays
 
New Year Day:

New Year's Customs Worldwide

How do people celebrate this holiday around the world?

..in Brazil?

In all cities in Brazil, we have a big party on New Year's Eve, especially in Rio de Janeiro where people go to the beaches to watch fireworks. We usually wear white clothes in order to have good luck during the new year. This party used to be a kind of religious party, but today it has become a big show for tourists and citizens. The party's preparation begins on the morning of the 31st, and the fireworks start at midnight. It lasts around thirty minutes, and everybody makes wishes for the new year: money, love, health. Normally we host more than two million people.

Angela Teixeira
In Brazil, most New Year's Eve customs are related to good luck or fortune. Most people wear white clothes on New Year's Eve to bring good luck and peace for the year that will follow. If they are in a beach city, after midnight, people go to the beach, jump seven waves and throw flowers in the sea while making a wish. This will bring them good luck and fortune. They say that the goddess who protects the sea will make their wishes come true. Because of that, some people also light candles in the sand on the beach. I think this custom came from the mix of the African and Indian cultures that developed in Brazil and have spread from coast to coast.

Renate Pauperio ...in China?

In China, New Year's Eve is a time for...

  • all family members to get together to chat
  • us to have some special food which we don't have daily
  • children to wear brand new clothes
  • children to gather lucky money from adults
  • traveling
  • hanging around the flower shows
  • shopping for cleaning one's house, especially for messy people.

On New Year's Eve, all family members get together and just stay home to prepare food. Even though some of the work in different cities, they will be home on time.

At the dinner, we have lots of foods such as dumplings, chicken, and fish which all have meanings of good luck. After dinner, we all go out to a flower show. We can buy different flowers and some New Year's stuff. Then we go back home and chat together. In the meantime, we have some snacks. No one will leave until after midnight. Officially, we have nine days for holidays during New Year.

Kelly Chen
The Chinese New Year's holiday which is celebrated in February, is the longest and most crowded holiday in my country. During this time, people celebrate the arrival of the New Year, pray for a new start of their life in the following spring, and make many new wishes and plans.

The children don't really understand the meaning of New Year's, but it is very exciting for them, and they are happy with all the gifts and programs such as dancing, movies, eating, partying, and talking over old times. Adults visit each other, and usually the holiday will last for two weeks.

I remember that when I was a child, I used to look forward to the New Year, but year by year, I gradually lost interest. Now spectacular shows on TV last all day long. Most of the programs are parties from each province. People sing, dance and play dramas. Today, more and more Chinese would rather spend their time traveling during the holiday. Furthermore, a lot of couples have their weddings during the New Year's holiday.

Yian Ma ...in Colombia?

Burning "Mr. Old Year" is a New Year's tradition in some cities of Colombia. It requires the participation of the entire family. It is a lot of fun; they fabricate a big stuffed male doll that represents the old year. Then they stuff the doll with different materials. Sometimes they put some little fireworks in it to make it more exciting at the time they burn it. Also, they put things inside that they don't want anymore, objects that can bring sadness or bad memories. These things will burn with the old year, meaning that they want to forget all the bad things that happened during the past year. They dress the man with old clothes from each member of the family. Then, on New Year's Eve at midnight, they set the doll on fire. This symbolizes burning the past and getting ready to start a happy New Year without bad memories of the past.

Martha Leverett  ...in Korea?
My grandmother always says not to sleep on New Year's Eve. If you sleep, your eyebrows will turn white. I don't know where these words come from. Of course, it doesn't happen. Every New Year's Eve we can watch a striking-a-bell ceremony on TV. The bell is struck 33 times. This is in memory of 33 fighters who died for the restoration of Korea. On New Year's Day a lot of people go to the sea to watch the sunrise. The beaches of eastern Korea are filled with crowds of people. On seeing the sunrise, people make their new wishes.

Seong Ah Kim
We call New Year's Day Sul-nal. We don't have a real New Year's day on January 1st. We use the lunar calendar, and it shows the days a little differently, just as February can be different, depending on the year. We usually wear Han-Boks which are Korean traditional clothes. We have ancestor memorial sites on the first day in the morning. In order to have this, many relatives come together. After the rites, we eat Dduk-gook which is made of rice cake and is a kind of soup. Also, whenever we meet our elders, we perform a New Year's bow. Some older people give New Year's gifts. New Year's day is the biggest holiday in Korea, so we usually spend time with the family and relatives. There are many traditional games on New Year's Day, such as yut, seesaw (teeter). The game of yut consists of 4 sticks and a board. There are 3-4 teams, and each team has 3 to 4 members, so many people can play this game.

Seung-Hye Lee (Clare)
On New Year's day, we traditionally wear Korean traditional clothes called "Hanbock." However, nowadays some people wear western clothes. In the morning, younger generations bow to older generations. For example, children bow to their parents, uncles, aunts, and grandparents; and parents bow to their parents. After bowing, older people give brand new money to the children. This means good luck and good wishes. We have special food for this day. It is a kind of soup made of rice cake. All family members eat together and give each other good blessings. There are some traditional games for New Year's Day. I think it is just for family union and for fun. It is winter on those days, so children make a kite and play with them. We also wear special pockets in which we think we can put blessings, but nowadays this custom is disappearing.

Haegyung Lee (Lynn)  ...in Mexico?

In Mexico, many people usually gather with their relatives and friends to celebrate the new year. On New Year's Eve, we have some special customs. For example, we turn on the TV and wait to see or hear the bell ringing twelve times. Each time the bell rings, we eat one grape and make a wish. Then we hug each other and wish each other a Happy New Year. Some people, especially women, wear red underwear meaning you will find love in the next year. There are also people who take out their suitcases and walk around the block, meaning they wish they could travel next year. There's also a custom on January 6th to eat a special cake with a hole in it and a small toy inside. The person who gets the piece with this tiny kid is supposed to make a special food on February 5th.

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