January 1st is the beginning of a New Year and a time for a fresh start and new beginnings. The New Year is celebrated differently across the world with many traditions dating back hundreds of years, like Christmas it is a time for family and friends to get together, often with a meal, games and fireworks at midnight.
In the UK many people observe ‘first footing’ this is traditionally done by a young, dark haired, good looking male who leaves the house before midnight and is the first person through the front door after New Year begins carrying gifts such as a piece of coal, money, bread and salt, this is believed to bring good luck, many of us sing Robert Burns ‘Auld Lang Syne’ which represents remembrance of old friends and times spent together with them.
In Denmark traditions involve leaping from chairs at midnight and smashing plates on friends’ doorsteps, this symbolises good wishes for the New Year.
In Austria New Year’s Eve is called Sylvesterabend which means Eve of Saint Sylvester, suckling pig and peppermint ice cream are eaten and marzipan or chocolate good luck charms of chimney sweeps, coins or horseshoes are exchanged.
In Germany molten lead is poured into cold water to see what shapes develop, heart shapes symbolize marriage, round shapes good luck and a ship means a journey. At their New Year’s Eve celebrations a bit of every sort of food served is left on their plate until after midnight as a way of ensuring a well-stocked larder, Carp is traditionally eaten which is thought to bring wealth.
In Brazil lentils are eaten as part of their New Year’s Eve meal they are a symbol of wealth and prosperity, in a ceremony dedicated to the god of water Yemanja, a priestess of the macumba voodoo cult, dressed in blue and white, pushes a sacrificial boat filled with jewellery, candles and flowers from Ipenama Beach to bring health, wealth and happiness.
In Greece, 1st January is St Basil’s Day, he is remembered for his kindness and generosity to the poor. Vassilopitta or St Basil’s Cake is prepared and contains a silver or gold coin, bringing luck for coming year to whoever finds the coin.
However you celebrate the New Year have a wonderful time.