New Year's Eve
Each year millions of people around the globe celebrate New Year's Eve according to their location and cultural background.

Many Americans, for instance, often watch the ball drop at Times Square or eat black-eyed peas for good luck. Kisses at midnight, champagne toasts and New Year's resolutions are also commonly made. Other cultures, however, ring in the New Year much differently. The following is a list of traditional New Year's celebrations around the world.


In this country, the New Year is celebrated on April 13 and lasts for three days.

As a blessing to represent a colorful future, people often drench one other in pink, red or yellow-colored water. Homes are also decorated with balloons and flowers.


While some superstitions include eating fish or pork for financial luck, here weather predictions are made with onions.

In this custom, six onions are sliced in half with each of the 12 pieces representing a different month. The open sides are then sprinkled with salt, and after a little while the onions are checked to see which sides dissolved the salt. If the salt did not soak into an onion, that month will be dry. If the salt did soak in, that month will be rainy and wet.


In this country, 12 grapes, each representing a different month of the year, are eaten at midnight to ensure wealth throughout the year.


Carnations are used in the Korean New Year to determine the future quality of life for girls.

In this custom, three carnations are placed in a girl's hair. If the bottom flower wilts first, the girl can expect to be miserable her entire life. If the middle flower wilts first, most of her pain will occur during her younger years. If the top flower wilts first, the girl's most difficult years will happen late in life.


It is rumored that farm animals are thought to speak on New Year's Day in this country. It is considered bad luck, however, to actually witness this event.


The Vietnamese New Year is called Tet. This holiday honors the new lunar year and is celebrated in either January or February. Customs include cleaning and painting homes, as well as decorating them with hoa mai blossoms. Homage is paid to the Kitchen God, temples are visited to pray for prosperity and good luck, debts are paid and new clothes and shoes are purchased.


Families gather together in this country and eat a midnight meal. Children often jump up and down 10 times at midnight to grow taller in the coming year, and fireworks are set off as a symbol of happiness.


Hogmanay, which means "Moon of the Hag," is the name of the Scottish New Year.

This culture believes that the "first footer" -- the first person to step foot in the house -- determines the luck of the New Year, and preference is given to tall, dark strangers carrying whisky and shortbread. Cakes, pastries, black buns and fruitcakes are also eaten and served with Haggis (a dish made of sheep stomach and other edible sheep organs) and het pint (a traditional drink made of ale, whisky, nutmeg, eggs and sugar). The popular New Year's song "Auld Lang Syne" also originates from Scotland, written by the poet Robert Burns over 200 years ago.


Fruit, coins and mincemeat pies are often given to children who go door-to-door singing carols and wishing others a happy New Year.


New Year's Day in this region is also known as the Festival of St. Basil, the founder of the Greek Church.

St. Basil's bread, or vassilopitta, is served with small trinkets baked inside. Whoever finds one of these trinkets in their bread will have good luck in the coming year. Greek children also leave shoes by the fireplace to be filled with presents from St. Basil.


Since pigs are known to root forward, pork is the traditional food served in this country to symbolize moving ahead. Conversely, lobster is avoided to prevent setbacks since it's a crustacean that moves backward.

A punch made of cinnamon, sugar and red wine is served in honor of Saint Sylvester, and taverns and inns are decorated with evergreen wreaths.


Since Iranians are mostly Muslim, they celebrate their New Year on the first day of their spring, which varies according the Gregorian calendar. This festival is known as Noruz or Nowruz, and occurs in late March.

The New Year is announced with the sounding of a cannon, and weeks of preparation are often entailed in this practice. Grains of wheat, barley and lentils are grown and used as decorations for houses, symbolizing growth and prosperity. These items must be kept in the house for 13 days, and afterwards they are thrown into the river.

A special table is also prepared with seven items, all of which must begin with the letter "s" for Haft-sin. The items include hyacinth (sonbul), green shoots grown from grain (sabzeh), a sweet pudding made of green wheat (samanoo), vinegar (serkeh), an herb (sumac), an apple (seeb) and bohemian olives (senjed). A copy of the Islamic holy book, the Koran, must also be present on the table.


Citizens of this country are known to burn a scarecrow and a will to symbolize the year's shortcomings.


The Japanese New Year is called Oshogatsu.

On this holiday, good luck and happiness are ensured by laughing at the stroke of midnight and by hanging a rope of straw in front of the home. House entrances may also be decorated with pine to represent youth, longevity and character strength, bamboo to symbolize luck, and plums to signify virtue and courage. Bells in Buddhist temples are rung 108 times by various townspeople in order to free the faithful from the 108 "earthly desires" condemned in the Buddhist canon.

 end of article dingbat