Every country has a variety of cultural ways to greet the New Year. Families in Korea get together and hold a memorial ceremony for ancestors and receive money after performing the New Year’s bows. We also feast on rice cake soup that signifies becoming a year older. What New Year’s cultures do other countries have then? Let’s find out.
Chinese have a fireworks display in the New Year. It is said that having fireworks can ward off evil spirits. Then all the family members have a ‘spring-cleaning’ together. With spring-cleaning, they hide things which chop and cut, such as scissors and knives because they believe that things like these will chop and cut up good luck in the New Year. Their New Year foods are boiled dumplings and rice cake. Northern people eat boiled dumplings, and southern people have rice cake. These two foods are eaten by people to wish the year’s luck.
Japanese visit shrines in the New Year. They wash their hands clean, and make contributions to the shrine and make a sincere wish after making a sound by shaking bells and other things. It is said that hundreds of people are gathered in the Meiji Shrine on New Year’s Day. The traditional New Year foods are ‘Mojji’ and ‘Soba’. Mojji is similar to steamed bread and Soba is buckwheat noodles. Japanese eat Soba because they want to live long (like the noodles’ length.)
Vietnam holds a big festival called ‘Teto’ from late January to early February according to the lunar calendar. All of the family members get together and eat pork, grilled duck egg, and watermelon. Vietnamese are pleased that they will be fortunate over the coming year if watermelons are good and ripe. Then they collect their garbage instead of dumping it because of their custom, which they believe that throwing away trash during that period will mean losing their luck.
The U.S. has a magnificent party with friends and family in restaurants and at home. People count down till 12 o’clock and pop the champagne. Also, it is not too much to say that Americans spend all day watching football games on New Year’s Day.
Mexico has a custom where family members look for money together after stashing it in the four corners of the house. This lets family solidify their friendship and they can do the evening market shopping with the money. Mexicans eat 12 grapes, the New Year food. 12 grapes for the 12 months and they make their hopes for the New Year while eating them one at a time.
In Guatemala, sawdust dolls prevail throughout the country at the end of the year. People burn these dolls on New Year’s Day. They believe that burning the dolls cleans their souls.
In Scotland, Men dye their hair black on January 1st because they think that men with black hair bring them good luck.
In the Netherlands, people kiss all the people who they meet on the cheek. Then, on New Year’s Day they hold the Polar Bear Swim, in which people jump into the North Sea wearing only a swimsuit. This has a meaning to wish vigor and health for the year.
As mentioned above, every country has a different New Year culture. However, the desire for having a better year is the same throughout all the cultures.
by Seong Jae-ho, reporter
Seong Jaeho -
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