I started with Netherlands, where my in-laws are from.
In the Netherlands people burn Christmas trees on street bonfires and let off fireworks to ring in the New Year and as a way of driving out the spirits of the old year.(according to a cousin, this is not limited to empty fields)
Since my niece lives in Spain I thought I’d check that one out.
When the clock strikes midnight they eat 12 grapes one with every toll to bring good luck for the next 12 months of the New Year. Sometimes the grapes are washed down with wine. Theater productions and movies are interrupted to carry out this custom.
The Mayan New Year interests me because my next series starts in Guatemala and is about the Mayans.
They Mayan people celebrate their New Year during the month of July in the Gregorian calendar.
The Mayans have a number of gods which were worshipped. Each year at New Year a different god was the focus of the New Year. New idols were made, the entrances and implements of the temple were deconsecrated with blue paint which was a sacred color. When everything was ready, the god would enter from the compass direction associated with them.
They would also perform domestic renewal rituals for the New Year such as destroying all their old pottery and fiber mats and putting on new clothes.
My mother’s side of the family is German, so what were the traditions in Germany…
In Germany people would drop molten lead into cold water and try to tell the future from the shape it made. A heart or ring shape meant a wedding, a ship a journey, and a pig plenty of food in the year ahead.
People also would leave a bit of every food eaten on New Year's Eve on their plate until after Midnight as a way of ensuring a well-stocked larder. Carp was included as it was thought to bring wealth.
And the United States New Year’s traditions…
American New Years Customs such as Dance parties are thrown on New Year's Eve to see in the year. Times Square in New York City has a ball drop hosted by a television celebrity. This is broadcast all over the United States. At the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve people will kiss or honk car horns. Paper blowers and whistles are blown. A soul food of black-eyed peas and rice called Hoppin' John is eaten by some. Other foods that are eaten at New Year are cake and champagne.
In the US they believe that black-eyed beans are lucky.
They also watch the Championship football games in stadiums or on their televisions.
These traditions came from a the website: http://www.fathertimes.net/traditions.htm
What do you do on New Year’s Eve and Day? We sometimes attend parties or host parties or the last several years have just stayed home and went to bed before midnight. This year we’ll have some family here. New Year’s day is always dinner at my mother-in-law’s.