It’s that time again. The calendar pages are beginning to run out and the weather is getting colder, signifying the end of 2014. The New Year is an event which is the oldest celebrated holiday, started by the Babylonians in 2000bc in the spring time and their festivities would last eleven days. The Romans continued to celebrate the New Year in March.

The Gregorian calendar, which is the most widely used calendar internationally, saw the New Year fall upon January 1st. The traditions carried out vary around the world…

  • In America, a kiss at midnight symbolises purification for the New Year and the magnitude of noise drives away evil spirits.
  • Spain and Peru are similar to each other; they eat twelve grapes to bring good fortune in the following twelve months, but in Peru they eat a thirteenth to ensure good luck.
  • In Sicily, they eat lasagne on New Year’s Day as any other form of pasta would bring bad luck.
  • Greece’s tradition is to bake bread with a coin inside and when sliced, if the coin is in the third piece then they believe spring will come early that year.
  • In Norway they make rice puddings with an almond and whoever gets served the pudding with the almond is said to have guaranteed wealth that year.
  • The Chinese New Year is also called the Lunar New Year as it happens on the new moon of the first lunar month. Normally between the 21st of January and the 21st of February, and years are marked by one of the twelve ‘Earthly Branches’ found by observing Jupiter’s obit. This identified twelve months of the year and were represented by animals. Years were also marked by one of ten ‘Heavenly Stems’ representing the five elements. This combination cycles every sixty years.
  • Many Southeast Asian countries celebrate with a water festival in the 11th month of the lunisolar calendar on the day of the full moon. The fixed date is the 13-15th of April and people sprinkle water on one another to show respect.
  • At Midnight in Japan, Buddhist temples ring bells 108 times as a sign of the 108 human acts Buddhists consider sinful and by ringing the bells they are expelling the sins of the previous year.

As we count down the days to next year—planning our parties, dinners or family gatherings, take a moment to remember the year that is passing. All the good and bad that it has brought, so you may learn and grow from it. Maybe even celebrate the New Year in other cultural ways with the ones you love.

Charlotte Appleby
I never know what to say about myself when people ask. I’m your average Joe. I’m from a big family and something is always going on. I’ve learnt to appreciate the peace and quiet now. Writing is my real passion; I started my degree in creative writing this year with the vain hope of one day becoming published. I’m working on a collection of poetry, a fantasy novel, stage plays and short stories of all variations. When I’m not scrawling, scribbling or typing, I can usually be found on my guitar. Music is another important aspect of my life and I’ve been playing for over a decade. I also have some weird hobbies like growing tropical plants, fire dancing and collecting coins.