What a speed of time. In just a few days, we will say goodbye to the year 2015. The parties and the strange gimmicks to welcome the new year will probably be left and right again. Here in our country-in the Philippines-the loud fireworks and torotot are the stars that drive away misfortune. Every media noche there should be on the dining table the round fruits that represent the twelve months of the year because it is shaped like a coin that symbolizes prosperity and luck in life. Families share it. Also, sticky snacks are believed to bring good luck to every person who eats them. Also not to be missed are the colorful polka dots print costumes which are also a lucky draw. For those who want to get lucky with money, the habit of scattering coins around the house with doors, windows and cabinets open is probably number one on the list. And the traditional jump of twelve times by the twelfth hour of the new year will forever be done by children and by young hearts. These are just a few of the many traditions and customs that Filipinos practice to celebrate the new year.
But we Filipinos are not the only ones who have polka dots and lots of round things for good luck. Even in other parts of the world there are different traditions and rituals that are performed to welcome the new year. Most of them we can say are quite unique indeed.
Let’s start in Asia: in China where the new year is celebrated based on the lunar calendar. This day is called the longest day of rest by the Chinese. The provocative dragon dance and the firing of fireworks is one of their traditional activities. They also provide a red envelope with only money for children and adults only. In addition, they have foods prepared to give luck and money throughout the year such as fish, Chinese dumplings, sticky foods and sweet rice balls. In Japan, the day before the new year, they used to eat soba buckwheat noodles to make their lives even longer. Eating soba should be avoided after midnight on December 30 because it brings misfortune. It is also a tradition for them to wear clothes according to the zodiac animal of the new year.
In middle east Asia, it is fashionable in Turkey to traditionally wear red panty in the new year. These red underwear are often celebrated and worn out as the new year approaches. This skill really stands out.
Let’s go to Europe. We will be fed seven times in Estonia because they believe that by eating seven times on the first day of the new year, life will be more abundant that year. If in Estonia they value food more for prosperity, the Irish have them throwing breads against the walls to drive away evil spirits. In Switzerland, they celebrate their new year by dropping ice cream on the floor. (Unfortunately, I wish I had just eaten it!)
Moreover, farmers in Romania and Belgium have rituals performed to hear their animals speak. When they succeed, it means they will be lucky throughout the year, but otherwise they will be watched. Romanians also dress up as bears and dance from house to house to ward off evil elements.
Here in South America, your destiny depends on an egg. In El Salvador, an hour before New Year’s Eve, they would break a glass of water. They let it change shape until the morning of the new year. Moreover, the shape and meaning it brings will be interpreted throughout the year.
While the whole world rejoices in their homes in the new year, the people of Talca, Chile prefer to celebrate their new year in the cemetery with their bereaved relative. Here they pour their time until the first day of the year.
For those who wish to travel next year, to Colombia, they carry their suitcases on the street to make it happen. In Brazil, Ecuador, and Venezuela, they are lucky enough to wear colorful underwear. Red is a popular color because it brings new love and yellow is for good luck with money.
Let’s head to Africa. Believing the need to start a new and fresher year the Johannesburg native in South Africa throws old furniture out of the window of their house. They do it every year.
The traditional traditions and cultures of other countries are really unique in celebrating the new year. Some of them are even more similar. Others are quite unusual. Surather, the majority express the same goal in life. That is the development. Who doesn’t want to rise in life? Almost everyone wants to get rich, good luck. So many still believe in these traditions. But do we really rely on these traditions to get what we want in life? Are we going to stop solving our problem?