New Years is a time for rebirth, the end of one year and the starting fresh of a new one. In the U.S. New Years is celebrated with glasses of champagne, revelry, kisses at midnight after the iconic countdown and spending time with loved ones. Other countries have unique traditions for new years that speak volumes about their history and culture.
Japan's New Year celebrations are not so much marked with celebratory champagne as it is traditional, religious and spiritual time.
On New Years eve (Omisoka) the New Year's God, Toshigami, is welcomed and traditional activities such as concerts, countdowns and fireworks, similar to America occurs. On New Years day, postcards are sent to friends and family.
Food is a huge part of Japan's New Years celebrations. A selection of specialty dishes are created including fish cakes, sweetened black soy beans and simmered burdock root are served. Sometimes, at around 11 p.m. a bowl of noodles is eaten for the last time in the year.
At midnight, Buddhist temples ring a bell 108 times and there are stunning celebrations at temples throughout Japan. After midnight, many familis visit the shrine or temple for Hatsumode which is the first shrine or temple visit of the year.
In Mexico New Years is celebrated with tradition, food, religion and superstition. At midnight, Mexicans eat a grape with each chime at midnight. Each grape is a wish. They also decorate their homes with different colors of things they want in the new year. Red is for love, green is for money and yellow is for work. Traditional New Years food include Rosca de Reyes or Mexican sweet breads that are baked with a coin or charm for luck. Whoever gets the slice with the charm has good luck for the year.
Hogmanay, which means the last day of the year, is celebrated in Scotland. Local customs include "first footing" which means the being the first person to step foot in a friend or neighbor's threshold and giving a gift. Many gifts are symbolic and include, coal, whisky, shortbread or salt. They also celebrate with huge street parades and parties to welcome in the New Year.
Since 1987, another Scottish tradition on New Years Day, for the very brave, include jumping in the freezing River Forth in Queensferry to start the new years afresh.
In the Philippines, round object are a symbol of the new year. They wear polk dots and consume things that are round including round fruits. The round symbol goes back to coins, which is a signifies prosperity. Another tradition includes throwing coins at midnight, to increase ewealth.
Other traditions include throwing coins at the stroke of midnight to increase wealth for the coming year and jumping up high which is believed to cause a growth spurt.
In Wales, People celebrate Calennig, which means New Years in Welsh. The celebration traditionally is a time to give gifts to family, friends and neighbors. Today it is customary to give cheese and bread on New Years morning.