Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday Fact- New Year traditions

With the New Year knocking on the door, I decided to look up New Year's traditions in different countries.

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:

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.


Therese said...

Awesome. I love learning about traditions and rituals around the globe.

Happy New Year!

Which, according to Chinese Astrology (Feng Shui) will not begin until the end of January when the Year of the Dragon begins. :D

Paty Jager said...

Therese. Thanks! Happy New Year to you as well!

Callie said...

It is fun to learn about other traditions. I usually stay home on new year's eve. Sometimes I watch the ball drop, but since it drops an hour before our midnight (Central time), it doesn't really mean much. If my kids are out (22 and 20), I'll spend some time worrying. New Years' Day is usually a lazy, hang around the house, eat and watch movies/read type day. Happy new year everyone.

Paty Jager said...

Hi Callie,

I agree it's fun to learn how other people celebrate events. We rarely go out on New Year's eve.

Happy New Year!

Lauri said...

Fun post, and now I know where my husband gets his fireworks theory...though I know he's never been to the Netherlands. He has a box of fireworks ready to go tonight, and the house is filling up with friends and family.

Happy New Year!!!

Paty Jager said...

Sounds like you had an explosive New Year!