As we approach the New Year, it's time to take a look at some January 1st traditions from around the globe! This article is a celebration of the incredible diversity of our students and mentors.
With so many countries to choose from, we've taken 1 tradition from each of the 7 continents to share...
New Year in Brazil: Since January 1st falls in the Summer for the Southern hemisphere, Brazilians typically ring in the New Year on the beach! Once midnight strikes, many will dress in white as a symbol of purity, enter the water and jump over 7 waves whilst making 7 wishes. This tradition pays homage to Yemanja, the goddess of water.
New Year in Spain: Since the late 19th Century, many Spaniards have adopted a New Year's tradition known as 'las doce uvas de la suerte', which literally translates to 'the twelve grapes of luck'. In the hope of warding off evil spirits and ringing in a prosperous new year, Spanish people will attempt to eat 12 grapes for every strike of the clock as it turns midnight.
New Year in Japan: Dating back to the Kamakura period when Buddhist monks would hand out noodles to the poor, it's traditional for Japanese people to ring in the New Year by feasting on some delicious soba noodles. The long, thin structure of this particular type of noodle is symbolic of a clean break away from the old year in preparation for the new one.
New Year in Haiti: For Haitians, January is not just the start of a new year but first and foremost, Haitian Independence Day! On this day, they typically eat Soup Joumou, a Haitian squash soup, which is a delicacy that enslaved Haitians were typically not allowed to eat. This serves as a symbol of victory and freedom.
New Year in Fiji: In Fijian culture, New Year's celebrations are not just reserved for a single day but typically a whole week! In each village, the clans come together for a massive feast, consuming plenty of local delicacies and drinking lots of Yaqona, Fiji's national drink.
New Year in South Africa: South Africans typically celebrate New Year with plenty of food, drink, dancing and entertainment! However, one particular tradition, that originates from Johannesburg, is a little more unusual. On 1st January, it's traditional for residents to throw old furniture out of their windows on to the streets below to symbolise out with the old and in with the new!
New Year in Antarctica: Whilst there is no permanent population in Antarctica, it is now home to a very multi-cultural population of scientists almost all year-round. Any large celebrations are impractical, but they typically ring in the new year in the same way as many people around the world- with friends and food! It's also a popular time for tourists to visit, drawn to the picturesque snowy backdrop to their New Year's celebrations.
From eating 12 grapes at midnight to throwing furniture out of the windows, we hope this article has demonstrated the huge diversity of New Year's celebrations and traditions across the 7 continents!
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