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New Year Traditions

British New Year

In Britain the custom of first footing is practiced. The first male visitor to the house after midnight is usually supposed to bring good luck. Usually they bring a gift like money, bread, or coal, which is done to ensure the family, will have plenty of these things all the year to come. The first person must not be blond, red-haired or women as these people are supposedly bad luck.

The Druids gave a gift of twigs from the mistletoe, as this was a plant that was sacred to them as a magic source of fertility. It would bestow on the recipient a fruitful year in the number of children, as well as the amount of cattle and the amount of crop.

Ancient Egyptian New Year
The main New Year event seems to have been the Feast of Opet, which took place in the first month of the year. This was the best time to hold the festival as the Nile was flooded and people were unable to work as a result of this, so they were free to take part in the celebrations.
The Feast was held in honor of Amon and marked the god’s annual journey down the Nile from Karnak to Luxor, where he stayed for twenty-four days before returning to the main temple.
There is a procession where the Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt then the god Amon, his wife and his son are carried to the quayside by attendants in panther-skins and led by a temple priest, a trumpeter and a drummer.
Each god is placed in a makeshift temple. These are then dragged out into the mainstream of the river, here they are joined by small boats which accompany them to Luxor.
When they arrive at Luxor they are presented with offerings of food and drink. This feasting goes on throughout the whole of the festival. They are then returned to the temple of Karnak and the year’s normal activities can begin.

German New Year
In Germany people would drop molten lead into cold water and try to tell the future from the shape it made. A heart or ring shape meant a wedding, a ship a journey, and a pig plenty of food in the year ahead.
People also would leave a bit of every food eaten on New Year’s Eve on their plate until after Midnight as a way of ensuring a well-stocked larder. Carp was included as it was thought to bring wealth.

Greek New Year

In Kos people make first-of-the-year wreaths of pomegranates, grapes, quinces, garlic bulbs, and plane-tree leaves. Just before dawn on September 1 the children carry their households’ wreaths down to the shore, the old year’s wreaths and the new ones, and they throw the old ones out to sea and immerse the New Year wreaths for good luck. Then they carry seawater and pebbles home in a jar, to serve with the wreaths as protective devices. Tradition calls for exactly 40 pebbles and water collected from the tops of exactly 40 waves.
In Rhodes the first-of-the-year wreaths are made of walnuts, onions, garlic, grapes, tufts of cotton, and cloth bags full of grain from the fields. The year’s sowing, it is said, can begin only after the wreath has been hung up.
Girls in Greece once ate something salty before going to bed. They did this because they believed it would help them to dream about their future husband.

Hungarian New Year
In Hungary they burn effigies or a scapegoat known as “Jack Straw” which represented the evils and misfortunes of the past year to burn on New Year’s Eve. Jack Straw is carried around the village before being burnt.

Irish (Celtic) New Year
The Irish New Year festival is known as Samhain which meant summer ends and was celebrated on 31 October. The festival has survived as Halloween.
It was at this time they hold their General Assembly. This was held in the out in the air parliament where the laws were renewed and accounts of events, details of births, deaths and marriages, were recorded.
This day was considered of great danger for it was when the spirits of the dead returned to earth. It was believed the spirits could do harm unless precautions were taken. The Celtic priests go into the woods on New Year’s Eve to gather bunches of mistletoe which they handed out to people to protect them from any harm. Also bonfires were lit to drive away evil forces. They also believed that it was safer to stay indoors as fairies were abroad on New Year’s Eve.
In Ireland the girls would go to bed with sprigs of mistletoe, or holly and ivy leaves under their pillows so they would go to bed dreaming of their future husbands. They might also chant:
“Oh, ivy green and holly red,
Tell me, tell me whom I shall wed!”
In Ireland in the west the direction of the wind blowing at New Year would indicate the trend of politics in the coming year. If it blew from the west it would flourish, if from the east the English would have upper hand.
Also on New Year’s Eve if they ate a very large supper they would have plenty of food for the coming year.
One custom that was practiced on New Year’s Eve was to take a large loaf of Christmas bread or cake outside the house and hammer it against the closed doors and windows, this was done so as to drive out any misfortune and let happiness in.
The Druids gave a gift of twigs from the mistletoe, as this was a plant that was sacred to them as a magic source of fertility. It would bestow on the recipient a fruitful year in the number of children, as well as the amount of cattle and the amount of crop.

Mayan New Year
They Mayan people celebrate their New Year during the month of July in the Gregorian calendar.
The Mayans have a number of gods which were worshipped. Each year at New Year a different god was the focus of the New Year. New idols were made, the entrances and implements of the temple were deconsecrated with blue paint which was a sacred color. When everything was ready, the god would enter from the compass direction associated with them.
They would also perform domestic renewal rituals for the New Year such as destroying all their old pottery and fiber mats and putting on new clothes.

Netherlands New Year
In the Netherlands people burn Christmas trees on street bonfires and let off fireworks to ring in the New Year and as a way of driving out the spirits of the old year.

Polish New Year
In Poland New Year’s Eve is known as St Sylvester’s Eve. This name according to legends arose from Pope Sylvester I who was supposed to have imprisoned a dragon called Leviathan who was supposedly able to escape on the first day of the year 1000, devour the land and the people, and was suppose to have set fire to the heavens. On New Year’s Day, when the world did not come to an end, there was great rejoicing and from then on this day was called St Sylvester’s Eve.

Romanian New Year
On New Year’s Eve, children sing Plugusorul and Sorcova. In their songs, they wish good luck, happiness and success. You can hear the ringing of the bells and the bull sounds. The goat’s game, the bear’s game and the masks’ game are old Romanian customs.
The Bear, the Goat, the Bunghiers, the Caiutii, the Malanca, the Jiens and the Masked are expected to show up on New Year’s Eve. All of these stand for an original way of expressing the ritual associations of animals with almost universal worshiping of the Sun. The ceremonial structure of the custom is equally full of strength and vitality. The music and dance, both remarkable through their virtuosity and dynamism, the highly expressive masks, they all make up a unique spectacle. It is the masks that tell the most about the imagination and humor of the Romanian villager. Some of them have become genuine jewels of folk art.
An old tradition is that the year that is just beginning will be sunny and with rich harvests for the families that will leave the lamp alit on the New Year’s night until the dawn.
Also on the New Year’s morning, some traditional families toss money into the water where they wash their hands, counting on the fact that this will bring them money during the entire following year. Elderly people claim that their parents and grand-parents would put silver or even gold coins in the water when such coins were in use. Almost at the midnight of the 31st of December, the peasants foresee the weather in the following year, using large onion peels which the peel off and order by the months of the year. They put some salt on each of them. On the 1st of January, on St. Vasile’s Day, the one able to undo witchcraft and spells shall check the level of the liquid left by the melted salt in each of the onions peels. This is how they will know if there is going to be rain or draught.
Also on New Year’s Eve, another custom is the Vergel which is a mysterious act meant to prospect the future, in which unmarried young people and their parents take part. The one practicing the Vergel want to know what the future year holds for them, and most of all if and whom they will marry.

Roman New Year
Romans prepare for the New Year festival which is known as January Kalends by decorating their houses with lights and greenery. The festival lasts for three days, during this time they hold feasts and exchange gifts which were carefully chosen for their luck-bringing properties these include such things as sweets or honey to ensure sweetness and peace as well as Gold, Silver or money for prosperity. Lamps for a year filled with light.
They might also go to the Roman emperor and present him with a gift and wish him good fortune for the year ahead. Other politicians received gifts as well.
Normal rules of the society went on hold during the New Year festivities.

Russian New Year
In the Soviet Union Santa is replaced with Grandfather Frost. He looks much like Santa Claus but arrives on New Year’s Eve with his bag of toys. He wears blue instead of red. Father Frost can punish any evil doer by freezing them. Often kids dance around the tree, tell rhymes to Father Frost then receive their presents.
They have large decorated trees in the centers of the major cities. The most formal New Year’s celebration is party held at the Kremlin. As many as 50,000 attendance tickets are sold in the weeks before the annual event.
The Russian meal on New Year’s is primarily meat and potato dishes.

Scandinavian New Year
The traditions of the January new year are connected with the old winter festivities of the scandinavian norsemen. They used to involve time and light, and were thought to encourage the sun to return.

Scottish New Year
The Scottish New Year is known as Hogmanay and both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day were also known as Daft Days. The first Monday in January is a holiday and is referred to as Handsel Monday.
In Scotland New Year’s Eve is called Hogomanay or Night of the Candle. Foods such as three cornered biscuits called Hogmanays are eaten. Other foods that are special at this time of year are wine, cordials, cheese, bread, shortbread, oatcake, currant loaf and scones. After sunset people are known to collect juniper and water to purify the home.
The Scots prepare for the New Year by cleaning their houses. This was believed to have been a purification ritual.
They would perform a ritual of burning juniper branches which they carried throughout the house so as to remove any lurking germs and diseases.
The food they would eat at New Year was Haggis, shortbread, scones, oatmeal cakes, cheese, whisky and wine as well as traditional New Year black buns.
The first person to rise in the morning used to take Het Pint spiced ale to those members who were still in bed.
In Scotland an old tradition that still is relevant today is that of the first footer which is said, that whoever the first person to set foot into your home on New Year’s day decided the family’s luck for the rest of the year. This was based on the belief in the magic power of beginnings. The start of the New Year controlled its future course.
The person most welcome on new year’s morning was a tall, dark haired man and especially if he bought a gift as this was considered magical as his handsome features would make the year a pleasant one and his gift of a loaf of bread, or a shovel of coal would ensure that there would be no lack of food or warmth in the household.
Any other type of person who was to set foot in your home on New Year’s morning would spell disaster. Therefore people would subtly arrange for the right person to arrive.
They would light bonfires so as to dispose of the old year and sometimes a straw figure known as “the Auld Wife” which represented the old year would be thrown onto the bonfire.
One method used in the old days to remove evil spirits was to banish the evil to a cat or dog and scare them away.
On New Year’s Eve they all link arms in a circle and sing the traditional New Year song Auld Lang Syne.
After welcoming the New Year, all the people of the household would wait to see who the first person to enter the house after midnight will be, as this person would indicate whether they would have good luck or bad luck for the coming year. The first person must be a dark haired male, young virile, good natured and prosperous. He should not be empty handed and was supposed to bring with him a small gift such as a piece of coal, bread, salt as they were symbols of life.
On New Year’s Day children from Scotland rise early to make the rounds to their neighbors singing songs. They are given coins, mince pies, apples and other sweets for singing. This must be done by noon or the singer will be called fools.
In some Scottish villages barrels of tar are set on fire and rolled through the streets. This is done to burn up the old year and to allow the New Year in.

Spanish New Year
When the clock strikes midnight they eat 12 grapes one with every toll to bring good luck for the next 12 months of the New Year. Sometimes the grapes are washed down with wine. Theater productions and movies are interrupted to carry out this custom.

Welsh New Year
In Wales the boys of the village at around 3 or 4 am on New Year’s morning. They would go from house to house using an evergreen twig to sprinkle over the people and then each room of their house. This was believed to bring good luck.
On New Year’s Day children from Wales rise early to make the rounds to their neighbors singing songs. They are given coins, mince pies, apples and other sweets for singing. This must be done by noon or the singer will be called fools.

Read the original article at: Father Times

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