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NYE Celebrations Around the World
Below are excerpts from an article written by promo expert Alyssa Mertes on New Year’s Eve traditions and celebrations around the world. The earliest celebrations of the New Year came around the same time as the invention of the calendar, dating back to ancient Mesopotamia more than 4,000 years ago.
Berlin is home to one of the largest New Year’s Eve celebrations in Europe with millions of people showing up each year. It’s called Silvester and involves parties, fireworks, and Sekt (German sparkling wine). At home, families melt lead by holding a flame under a tablespoon. They pour it into a bucket of water and the pattern is said to predict the coming year. A heart/ring shape means an upcoming wedding, a ball means luck will roll your way, and a pig means you’ll have plenty of food.
The Año Neuvo is a time of embracing renewal. This is marked by throwing buckets of water out the window and opening the front door to symbolically sweep out the old year. Families toss coins onto the ground and sweep them back into the house to encourage a prosperous future.
At the annual Años Viejos, the people in Ecuador burn scarecrows at midnight. These are filled with paper or sawdust and modeled after a public figure who somehow wronged the world in the previous year, such as a corrupt politician or a celebrity who fell from grace. This tradition originated in Guayaquil in 1895 when a yellow fever epidemic hit the town and coffins packed with the deceased’s clothes were burned for purification. Ecuadorians also burn photographs from the previous year in the name of good fortune and starting fresh.
New Year’s Eve, or Oshogatsu, is marked by all the bells in the country getting rung 108 times. This aligns with the Buddhist belief of bringing cleanliness into the new year. The holiday is celebrated with a three-day festival full of games, food and family. People place kadomatsus (pine branches, bamboo, plum twigs) outside their home, one on either side of the entrance, as a way to welcome good spirits.
Before getting excited about the new year, people in Ireland make sure to spot clean their entire house. They even go outside and give the same TLC to their gardens and cars. When it gets closer to midnight, it’s tradition to throw bread at the walls to chase away evil spirits. This is followed by a special dinner where they reminisce about family and close friends who passed away. To honor their loved ones, they leave the door unlatched and set a place at the table.