Wednesday, October 9, 2013

New Year Traditions

New Year is the time of celebration. This is the time to usher a new beginning and hence, New Year around the globe is celebrated among different races in their respective traditions.

Traditions play a very significant role in the celebration of New Year. People try to return back to their roots on the day of the New Year to celebrate it in the most authentic fashion.

Across the globe therefore a wide variety of traditions can be seen practiced by different races. We have collected traditions from around the globe to make it an interesting reading.

New Year Traditions
New Year Traditions
New Year traditions in England
The British people celebrate their New Year as per the Gregorian calendar and hence their New Year falls on 1st of January every year. The first day of the year is celebrated with much fervor ad grandeur in England. The traditions which are followed during the New Year celebration in England are pretty distinct.

Across the churches of England special masses are organized to mark the beginning of the New Year. People also gather and parties and squares to become the part of the festivity which will usher the coming year. Normally the parties begin at the night of 31st December and continue till midnight. At the stroke of midnight people shout ‘Happy New Year’ to each other. Special prayers are held at churches across the country where people pray for peace and prosperity of themselves and others in the coming days of the year.

Guests are invited at the household and the Briton expects the first guest to be a tall, dark male; carrying gifts for the master of the house. This custom is believed to bring in prosperity and good luck for the household.

In many places of England masquerade dance balls are arranged following the ancient custom, where the dancers end the dance with a kiss at the stroke of midnight. According to the popular English beliefs, the mask represents the evil and the kiss acts the way of purification.

New Year Traditions in Japan
Japanese too follow the Gregorian calendar and hence their New Year is observed on 1st of January.

The celebration for the New Year in Japan begins on the New Year Eve. On that day people gather at the temple of Toshigami, the God of the New Year in Japan to pray. Japanese will then clean their houses to welcome the New Year. At the stroke of the midnight the Buddhist temples will ring the bell for 108 times, which is said to represent 108 elements of the human mind. This tradition is called Joya No Kane.

Preparing the traditional dishes on the day of the New Year is another important component of Japanese New Year celebration. On this day Japanese will prepare ‘osechi’ with boiled seaweed, fish cake, mashed potato, chestnut, burdock root and sweet black soyabean. The Japanese rice cake, Mochi, is also prepared during this time.

As a popular tradition Japanese will prepare a wrath of pine branch, bamboo stalk and plum blossom and hang it on their doors. The items are said to symbolize longevity, prosperity and nobility respectively.

New Year traditions of China
The Chinese New Year always isn’t observed on 1st of January. Since the Chinese follow both the Gregorian as well as the lunar-solar calendars their New Year celebration varies from the rest.

On the eve of the New Year Chinese people will paint their windows and doors red as the color is said to bring in good luck and prosperity. On the New Year day people will clean and decorate their houses, wear new clothes and exchange gifts to usher the new beginning. They will perform their famous dragon dance on this day as well. Colorful parades and bursting of firecrackers are integral parts of Chinese New year celebration as well.

New Year traditions of Jews
The Jews follow the Hebrew calendar. The Jewish New Year celebration is known as Rosh Hashanah and it means head of the year.

According to the Jewish beliefs the New Year is regarded as the judgment day. This is the time for the Jews to repent for their past misdeeds and hence much solemnity is observed during the New Year day. On the day Jews will cut hair, clean their houses, bathe and exchange gifts.

Rosh Hashanah is also the time to treat children, decorate houses and light up candles. Jews will prepare special meals on the day of Rosh Hashanah, which includes the traditional dish made of bread and water. Other items that enjoy special places in the menu of Jewish New Year are- dates, spinach, Leek, gourd and black eyed beans. Honey and apple are also eaten to ensure good luck and prosperity for the coming year.

New Year traditions of Hindus
Hindus are known to celebrate their New Year with great pomp and show. the Hindu New Year varies between 14th and 15th of April according to the Hindu lunisolar calendar. For them it is the time of festivity. Hindus will clean and paint their houses, decorate them with garlands, rangolis and oil lamps, wear new clothes, and visit relatives and friends on the day of the New Year. They would exchange gifts and wish New Year to family and neighbors. Some of the prominent traditions of Hindu New Year are,

  • Lighting oil lamps and decorating the house with them.
  • Making rangolis at the entrance with color.
  • Worshiping God and Goddess of prosperity-Ganesha and Laxmi
  • Buying new clothes, gifts and sweets.
  • Distributing gifts and sweets amongst friends, family and neighbors.
  • Buying jewelries and utensils for the house.
  • Worshiping tilling equipments and cattle to mark the beginning of the harvest season.

The Hindu New Year is also known by different names in different parts of India such as-

  • Bohag Bihu in Assam
  • Pohela Boishakh in Bengal
  • Bestu Varas in Gujarat
  • Vishu in Kerala
  • Gudi Padwa in Maharastra
  • Baisakhi - Punjab
  • Losoong in Sikkim
  • Puthandu in Tamilnadu
  • Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh
  • Cheti Chand in Sindh and Punjab
  • Diwali in Rajasthan

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