New Year’s around the world
New Year’s is a time of new beginnings, celebrations, and promises. Entering into a new year is a loud and boisterous time; fireworks light up the sky and we are greeted by joy and good wishes. Though New Year’s celebrations differ, the end of a time period always signifies an important time that represents something new.
We bid farewell to the old year by throwing a New Year’s Eve party. In many European countries, New Year’s Eve is associated with Saint Sylvester, more specifically pope Sylvester I. He died on the last day of the year in 335. There was a custom, on the last day of the old year, to shoot guns in order to ward off malevolent spirits of the deceased and evil spirits. Our ancestors shook fruit trees, as it was believed that the awakened spirits would bring good harvest. The New Year’s season was the time of exorcising demons, diseases, and sin. Numerous New Year’s customs and traditions were formed to magically help the land become fertile again and to bring good health and fortune. To that effect, people still fill the table with items they wish to hold in abundance in the future. New Year’s is a time of mystery and a defining moment. That’s why there are many supernatural creatures on earth, especially during the night, and the witches hold special power. It is known that water gathered right before dawn breaks on New Year’s has special power, and washing yourself with spring water will supposedly get you a husband. A few sayings emerged as well. Those who rise early on New Year’s morning, shall rise early throughout the whole year, and those who are hungry on that day, shall run hungry in the new year. And don’t forget, whatever you’re doing on New Year’s, you’ll be doing it throughout the whole new year.
In the past, the day New Year’s was celebrated differed from people to people. Celebrations were customarily held during the equinox and solstice. The 25 December was among the most popular days for festivities. The 1 January was established as the first day of the new year after the introduction of the Gregorian calendar when the year was carefully calculated.
In Oceania, New Year’s is celebrated when the Pleiades appear in the sky; that’s when festive singing and harvest begin. In Hawaii, it signals the start of the grand celebrations called Makahiki that once also signified the beginning of the time of peace.
The Hindu New Year’s is called Makara Sankranti which takes place when the sun faces north. It is celebrated on the day of the waxing crescent moon. All this testifies to the great importance of celestial bodies during the celebration of New Year’s. The common feature of the event is the yellow colour; it is present in food and in clothing.
Big parties in large cities take place outside. One of the most renowned festivities are held in Rio de Janeiro, mainly at the Copacabana Beach. Afro-Brazilian cult worshippers dig holes in the ground and put sacrificial gifts in them in the evening, ranging from bottles to rice. These sacrificial objects are gifts for the queen of the sea. Sounds of samba spread through the streets and beaches afterwards. The Brazilians wear white for the occasion, which is supposed to bring good luck.
In Japan, it is customary to wait for the breaking dawn in the mountains. Fifty kilometres from Tokyo is Mount Takao, where a cable car or a chair lift can take you up for New Year’s. You’ll be sharing the view with a large crowd of locals and travellers, and there’ll be songs coming from the temples. In the city of Tokyo, bells in the temple will ring 108 times. You can enjoy a view of the whole city from a skyscraper that offers a gorgeous view by staying at YHA Tokyo Central. If you visit Bologna, Italy, you’ll have a chance to enter new year with your own cattle. At the end of the New Year’s market, when cows parade the streets, you may get a chance to win one for yourself. For more than 200 years, the Icelanders have been celebrating New Year’s by lighting up bonfires in Reykjavik, and this year you can join in on the festivities, too. Of course, before you join the crowd around the bonfire, you’ll be in for some ridiculing of politicians, activists and businessmen. But if Iceland is too cold for you, we invite you to join in on the New Year’s celebrations in the warmer parts of Europe, namely in Barcelona, where you’ll be eased into the new year by the sounds of traditional Spanish music at the Flamenco Palace. An excellent dance show awaits you and even better food and wine. May this year’s New Year’s celebrations be something special. Concerts and opera performances are held in many cities. Treat yourself to a concert full of classical and Hungarian traditional music along the blue Danube in Budapest. You can stay in a renovated mansion belonging to the Habsburgs, the HI Maverick.
Celebrating New Year’s in HI hostels is an excellent opportunity to meet new people, as everyone’s in high spirits. It’s a great opportunity to learn how to say Happy New Year in world’s various languages. People of all kinds of nationalities, ages and professions gather in hostels and celebrate together, creating a unique atmosphere. What they all have in common, though, is the travel spirit. Sydney is famous for its fireworks, especially those set off at the harbour. It’s difficult to track the whole situation, so I recommend watching fireworks from a terrace on the roof of the Sydney Central YHA, where you can of course stay for more than just one day. But hurry up, the view there is quite popular, and tickets sell quickly.
May this year’s New Year’s celebrations be even better than the last year’s.