New Year: Country Trends

Figure 1.--Gelukkig Nieuwjaar is Dutch for Happy New Year. While greeting is in Dutch. The card was made by the French postcard company, Sol. Thus the children are presumably French. The ame card was made with greetings in other languages for sale in different countries. It was popular in theearly 20h century to send New Year cards with elegantly, but not realistically dressed children.

New Years is celebrated around the world, although the date varies from country to country. Celebrations in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Americas, and Europe share some similarities. There is more variation in Europe. Customs vary substantially. Generally festivities are focused on the night before the New Year and revelers celebrate the turn of the clock to 12:00 midnight. New Years in America is seen as an adult holiday, following Christmas, which has evolved into a family extranvaganza. Children are more involved in other countries. We do not yet have much information on the various national New Years celebrations. The Chinese of course are especially noted for celebrating New Years. We do have a Dutch New Years page. Germans say, "Ich wünsche Dir einen Guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!" This means: I wish you a good slide into the new year! On December 31 in Germany everybody wishes their neigbors "einen Guten Rutsch". The next day they say "Frohes Neues Jahr" meaning happy new year.


An Austrian reader tells us in 2009, "There is always ballet movements choreographered to the Strauss music on the New Years Day Concert from Vienna. The programme is televised throughout Europe. It is a very famous concert. Tickets are sold for next New Years concert - even now!" The program to celebrate the New Yars 2009 was Strauss' "Blue Danube" performed by children.


The Chinese of course are especially noted for celebrating New Years. Chinese New Year or Spring Festival is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. It is sometimes called the Lunar New Year, especially by people outside China. It comes at a different time than the European celebration. The festival traditionally begins on the first day of the first lunar month (Chinese: 正月; pinyin: zhēng yuè) in the Chinese calendar and ends on January 15. This day is called Lantern Festival. Chinese New Year's Eve is known as Chúxī (除夕, abbr. for 年除夕 Niánchúxī, Chúxì in Taiwan). It literally means "Year-pass Eve". On each year, there is an animal symbol for the year. There are 12 such animals. The year 2009 is the year of ox and there is a 12 year sycle for these animal designations. Chinese New Year is on January 25-February 9. Parades and fire crackers are staples of the Chinese New Year celebration. Lion and dragon costumes are particularly popular. Often children dress up in the costumes that relate to the animal that symbolizes the particular year. There are 12 of these animal symbols. Many Chinese celebrate their birtdays on New Years rather than their birthdate. Chinese New Year is not only celebrated in China, but in Chinese communitirs around the world. The San Francisco Chinnese New Year parade is especially important in America a heritage of the Chinese who came to America diring the 1848 Gold Rush.


Germans say, "Ich wünsche Dir einen Guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!" This means: I wish you a good slide into the new year! On December 31 in Germany everybody wishes their neigbors "einen Guten Rutsch". The next day they say "Frohes Neues Jahr" meaning happy new year. A German reader tells us about a modern German New Year tradition. "Here is something important about it. Well, it is not only German, but also well-loved in some other European countries. Interestingly not in the UK. It is a tv sketch about 18 minutes long performed by an English actor and an English actress. For about 40 years now this TV piece has been an absolute popular event every New Year's Eve. Lots of TV channels here broadcast the piece every year over the evening at different times. This piece has a world record as the most repeated tv show ever. And this show is very funny. It is called "Dinner for One". As it is in English you can enjoy it as well. You can even watch it in the internet. I can highly recommend it!!! This online version is cut in two parts: Part one and Part two. As long as I can remember, I have seen it every New Year's Eve. Also children are fond of it..


Religion can also be a factor in New Year celebrations. The Jewish New Year is Rosh Hashanah. This is celebrated in the Fall. Before Rosh Hashanah, Jews attempt to repair relations with friends and neigbors and to forgive those who wronged them. Beginning Rosh Hashanah, Jew then try to make peace with God. Observant Jews (adults and teenagers 13 and okder) attend the syunagogue on Rosh Hashanah. It is the beginning of a 10 day period of reflection. The idea is to consider one's life and how to iimprove themselves. After the period is Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), the most important day in the Jewish calendar. Adults fast on Yom Kippur. Children may be asked to give up snaks. After 25 hours have passed, Jewish families enjoy a big meal.

(The) Netherlands

A Dutch reader tells us about a tradition shared by Belgium and Holland. "The HBC description of German Sternsingen vividly reminds me of what our children do either at New Year’s Eve (Nieuwjaarzingen = New Year Singing) or just before Epiphany (Driekoningenzingen, Driekoningen = Three Kings). When and what they do and sing varies somewhat according to local tradition. Essentially they roam from house to house, sing one or more songs, whish people a happy New Year and are given an orange or some sweets or a little money in return. There are a number of traditional songs that are known all over both countries and others that are limited to a certain region or even village. Also, some of the brighter kids will paraphrase well-knowm texts or adapt them to local circumstances, sometimes even touching on topics that have recently occupied the local community. In some places it involves making a primitive musical instrument called foekepot or rommelpot, called rumbling pot in English I think


Russians receive a two holiday for New Year (Новый Год). This is probably the most popular holiday in modern Russia. The Russians greet the New Year with champagne and listen to the Kremlin chimes ringing out the arrival of the New Year at 12 midnight. There are many New Year traditions in Russia similar to Christmas traditons in the West. In fact after the Revolution, traditions like Christmas trees were shifted from Christmas to New Year. As a result, Russian New Tear is auch more family-orienred holiday than in the West. Russian homes have New Year trees with colored lights and non-religious decorations. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, religious decorations can now be added, but we are not sure to what extentvthis has been added. St. Nicholas was replaced by Father/Grandfather Frost. And children of course await the arrival of Father Frost and his presents just as they one awaited St. Nicholas. Grandfather Frost looks a lot like the American Santa Claus only his outfit is blue rather than red. He arrives on New Year's Eve with his bag of toys. I'm not sure just how he arrives or if he has Reindear like Santa. He appears to have super powers and Frost can punish evil doers by instantly freezing them. There is a tradition of the children danceing around the tree which can be tricky in small Soviet apartments. The children are expected to tell rhymes to Grandfather Frost before receiving their presents. Many cities put up large decorated trees. There is a formal New Year's celebration at the Kremlin in Moscow. As many as 50,000 people attend, but they have to purchase tickets. There is a large meal for New Year consisting of meat and potato dishes.


The Scottish New Years tradition dates back to about the 8th century. It was brought to Scotland by the Vikings at that time. It is called Hogmanay. Until the Victorian era, Hogmany was considered to be a more important holiday than Christmas, especially in the Highlands. The tradition in Scoland is to thoroughly clean the house and pay your debts on the day before New Years. Then there are bnfires, torch-lit processions, and fireworks. One important tradition in England and America is singing "Auld Lang Syne" (Old Long Ago), a traditional Scottish song. After the stroke of New Years the Scotts begin awaiting the first dark-haired man to knock on their door. This is called "first footing". The origins of the tradition are unclear, but may relate to the fact that the appearance of blonf Vikings could be a very unpleasant experience in the 8th century. Not only id January 1 a holiday in Scotland, but also January 2.


The Thai and Cambodian New Year comes in the Spring.


The Ukraine like several other consyiuent parts of the old Soviet Union not only celebrates the modern New Year, but soime celebrate Old New Year.


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Created: 11:05 PM 1/12/2009
Last updated: 4:48 PM 1/30/2009