New Years Eve Traditions Around the Globe

As we get ready to celebrate New Year’s Eve here on the Eastern Shore of Alabama, I thought it would be fun to take a look at various traditions from a little further away. What do people eat, what how do we toast, and what traditions do we follow? Here’s a look at a few traditions from around the globe…

While many of us Southerners make sure that black eyed peas, “hoppin’ John”, and cabbage are on hand for New Year’s Day, the people of the Netherlands eat any “ring shaped” food (like a donut!!) to symbolize their lives coming “full circle” through the year and for a sign of good fortune to come. The Irish enjoy various pastries, and the Spanish eat twelve grapes at the stroke of midnight (the tradition is meant to secure twelve happy months in the coming year). In Greece, one of the traditional foods served is Vassilopitta, or St. Basil's cake. A silver or gold coin is baked inside the cake and the person who finds the coin in their cake will be full of luck during the coming year (sounds very similar to a Mardi Gras King Cake, doesn’t it?).

Did you know that some say that the gesture of raising a glass became a "toast" in 17th-century England during the reign of King Charles II? Legend says that pieces of spiced toast were dipped in the liquid to impart flavor. ‘Champagne not your way to "toast" to good health in the U.S.? Maybe think of having your New Year’s toast with hot spiced wine, as they do in Holland (maybe along with your donut!). 

There’s no denying that fireworks play an important role in American New Years' celebrations, but how do others show their excitement? Well, pretty much the same way… One of the first major celebrations this year took place in New Zealand, as Auckland's Sky Tower counted down with a huge fireworks display shooting off from it’s tall tower. The next was Sydney, Australia, with it’s famous Harbor Bridge being lit up with it’s usual spectacular fireworks display. The Dutch, though, not only have traditional fireworks displays, but also burn large bonfires of Christmas trees on the street. These fires are meant to purge the old and welcome the new of the year.

Perhaps the most well-known tradition around the world in English-speaking countries is in the form of a song that almost no one knows the words to! "Auld Lang Syne" is an old Scottish song that was first published by the poet Robert Burns in the 1796 book, Scots Musical Museum. Burns transcribed it (and made some refinements to the lyrics) after he heard it sung by an old man from the Ayrshire area of Scotland, Burns's homeland.

So, if you are one of the millions of people that will be singing this song tonight on New Years Eve, but have no idea what you’re saying, here are the lyrics… you know, just in case you’re one of those that never learned the actual words. Happy New Year and may your 2015 be blessed!

 

"Auld Lang Syne"

Should auld acquaintance be forgot

And never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot

And auld lang syne

 

For auld lang syne, my dear

For auld lang syne

We'll take a cup o' kindness yet

For auld lang syne

 

And surely ye'll be your pint stowp

And surely I'll be mine

And we'll take a cup o' kindness yet

For auld lang syne

 

For auld lang syne, my dear

For auld lang syne

We'll take a cup o' kindness yet

For auld lang syne

 

We twa hae run about the braes

An pou'd the gowans fine

But we've wander'd mony a weary fitt

Sin' auld lang syne

 

For auld lang syne, my dear

For auld lang syne

We'll take a cup o' kindness yet

For auld lang syne

 

We twa hae paidl'd in the burn

Frae morning sun till dine

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