Friday, June 10, 2011

New Year Around the World

"Should all acquaintance be forgot..." Ahh yes, with 2010 just a day away, we'll all be counting down those final seconds of 2009 and ushering in the new year with this song again!

How do you celebrate the New Year? Here are some interesting ways that New Year is welcomed around the world:

In Scotland, the New Year is called Hogmanay. The most widespread national custom is the practice of 'first-footing' which starts immediately after midnight. This involves being the first person to cross the threshold of a friend or neighbor and often involves the giving of symbolic gifts such as salt, coal, shortbread, whiskey and black bun (a rich fruit cake) intended to bring different kinds of luck to the householder.

It is also Scottish custom to sing "Auld Lang Syne," which has now become common in many other countries. "Auld Lang Syne" is a traditional poem reinterpreted by Robert Burns, which was later set to music. It is now common for this to be sung in a circle of linked arms that are crossed over one another as the clock strikes midnight for New Year's Day, although in Scotland the traditional practice is to cross arms only for the last verse.

In Greece, New Year's Day is also the Festival of Saint Basil. It is customary for children to leave their shoes by the fireside on New Year's Day with the hope that Saint Basil, who was famous for his kindness, will come and fill their shoes with gifts.

Nowruz, Iran's New Year's Day, is celebrated in March. It is the most important holiday in Iran. Before the Nowruz, it is customary for major spring celaning to be performed in each household in Persia. It is also customary to buy new clothes. On the day itself, families dress up in their new clothes and start the 12-day celebrations by visitng elders in the family, then the rest of their family, and then their friends. This is because people are expected to visit one another in the form of short house visits, which are usually reciprocated. On the 13th day, families leave their homes and picnic outdoors.

To celebrate New Year's Day in Japan, it is cutomary for the Japanese to send out New Year's Day postcards to their friends and relatives, making sure that these will be received on January 1. It is also their custom to give money to children, handed out in small decorated envelopes called pochibukuro.

Celebrating the new year in Japan also means paying special attention to the first time something is done in the new year:
1. Hatsuhinode is the first sunrise of the year. Before sunrise on January 1, people often drive to the coast or climb a mountain so that they can see the first sunrise of the new year.
2. Hatsum┼Źde is the first trip to a shrine or temple. Many people visit a shrine after midnight on December 31 or sometime during the day on January 1. If the weather is good, people often dress up or wear kimono.
3. Shigoto-hajime (the first work of the new year)
4. Keiko-hajime (the first practice of the new year)
5. Hatsugama (the first tea ceremony of the new year)
6. Hatsu-uri (the first shopping sale of the new year)

Happy New Year!!! ;)

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