New Year’s Day is a holiday celebrated all over the world with different customs and rituals. Have you ever stopped to learn the origin of why we celebrate the New Year? It’s a question I asked myself while doing research for another blog about New Year’s resolutions. I’m going to enlighten you a little with some New Year historical facts and traditions passed down by generations in countries all over the globe.
Did you know that New Year’s Day is the oldest celebrated holiday? The Babylonians began celebrating New Year’s Day on March 23, around 2000 BC. The end of March was the logical choice for the New Year because it’s the beginning of spring and it’s also when new crops are planted. The Babylonians festivities would last eleven days, and each day was celebrated differently.
In years to come, the Romans continued celebrating New Year’s Day at the end of March, but with every new emperor came change and soon the festivities were celebrated on January 1st. This date has no special significance; it was completely random. The month of January was placed at the beginning of the yearly calendar because of the mythical god Janus (the god with two faces: one looked forward into the future, and the other looked backward over the past). He was the guardian of doors and entrances, so naturally he oversaw the New Year’s beginning. After Julius Caesar established the Julian Calendar, January 1st was officiallyestablished as the New Year.
New Year’s Good Luck Traditions Around the World
Within every country there are different traditions and rituals passed down from generation to generation, which are believed to bring good fortune and happiness in the year to come. I have compiled a short list of interesting cultural traditions from all over you probably didn’t know about.
United States: A kiss at the stroke of midnight signifies the purification into the New Year, and making deafening noise is said to drive away evil spirits.
England: The first guest to arrive at their home is believed to hold their good fortune. They believe it should be a man bearing gifts, such as coal for the fire or a loaf of bread for the table. The guest will enter through the front door and exit out the back. Any guest who shows up empty handed or unwanted will not be allowed to enter the home first.
Spain and Peru: These countries have similar traditions, in that they eat 12 grapes to bring good luck in the 12 months ahead. However, in Peru they eat a 13th grape to insure their good luck.
Japan: In Japan they decorate their homes with pine branches symbolizing longevity, a bamboo stalk symbolizing prosperity, and a plum blossom showing nobility.
Greece and Norway: Also having similar traditions, in Greece they bake a bread with a coin inside, and if the third slice has the coin, it is said that spring will be early that year. Similarly, Norwegians make rice pudding with one whole almond, and whoever’s serving holds the almond is guaranteed wealth that year.
Sicily: Lasagna is served on New Year’s Day, because any other noodle served is said to bring bad luck.
China: The Chinese New Year is not on January 1, but they still celebrate old traditions to ring in their new start. Every front door is painted with a fresh coat of red paint, symbolizing good luck and happiness. Also, families prepare feasts without using knives. All knives are put away for 24 hours to keep anyone form cutting themselves, because it is thought to cut the families’ good luck for the year.
As the holiday season quickly approaches, we are sure to make plans for our New Year’s resolutions. Some people may choose to quit smoking and/or drinking, get out of debt, learn new skills, or lose weight and live a more active lifestyle. Over the next week or two, I will dive into these resolutions and list the top 10 products that will help you and/or your customers achieve their goals and promote your business at the same time. Stay tuned!