Happy New Year!

The great aspect about this holiday is that it is universally celebrated and is a time when all people everywhere bid farewell to the prior year and usher in a new one. As everyone participates in this particular festivity, countries and cultures around the globe have created a wide range of traditions to make this event special and memorable. Below is a selection of amusing and interesting customs from around the world.

Happy New Year Image 1Everyone likes to make noise! In Italy, churches let their bells peal through the night sky; in Switzerland, celebrants beat drums and in America, party horns are the noisemaker of choice.

Everyone likes to eat! In many countries good fortune comes from eating certain foods: in the southern US, black-eyed peas and pork; in Amsterdam, ring shaped fritters called olie bollen; in Ireland, pastries called bannocks; in Spain, 12 grapes at midnight; and in Switzerland, dollops of whipped cream, which are actually dropped on the floor (and allowed to remain there!).

Everyone likes a gift! Gift giving also symbolizes the best of the year to come. In Italy, gilded nuts or coins are given; in Iran, eggs are exchanged; and in Scotland, coal, shortbread and silverware are considered great gifts.

Lastly, everyone likes a fresh start! The tradition of resolutions is equally important around the world. This ancient practice appears to date back to 2600 B.C. with the Babylonians, who reflected on the past and planned ahead for the next year. The tradition has endured, and while it may be the hardest tradition to commit to, it is always done with the best of intentions. The mere fact that we ponder ways to change or improve our lives with a new start can be enough to lead us down a path to newfound prosperity, joy or peace of mind. No matter what the resolution results, the dawn of a new year provides an opportune time to take stock of one’s life.

Cheers to a fresh start and all good things for the year ahead!