New Year Eve traditions around the world .

The New Year is upon us and as we prepare to toast 2017 with glasses of champagne and shout a collective countdown , the rest of the world is preparing to fill the last ten-seconds of 2016 and very first moments of 2017 with a variety of traditions, that may be familiar to some and foreign to others.



Let’s start with the beautiful country, my motherland- Azerbaijan. I lived there until the age of 22. I do not live there now, but it will always be my home.

Azerbaijan.

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Traditionally a New Year Tree (like Christmas-tree) is decorated in a house at approach of December 31, which is removed only after the Old New Year passes (13th of January).

In the West, everyone is very familiar with the famous and favourite character – Santa Claus or Father Christmas, as we call it in United Kingdom.
In Azerbaijan that character is known as  Ded Moroz (Russian) or Shakhta Babah (Azerbaijani) – both of them being a character like Western Santa Klaus – and his granddaughter Snegurochka (no English equivalent).

You can see Shakhta Babah and Snegurochka  walking down the streets or famous Boulvard in Baku, in shopping malls spreading the cheer and the fabulous celebratory atmosphere. Shakhta Babah comes on the New Year’s Eve to give presents to children . New Years Eve good luck tradition is to celebrate with  family members and friends, gathered together at the table abundant with lots of traditional food and drinks.
Also, just before the midnight, everyone toasts to the Old-year and at midnight, just after the clocks strikes twelve o`clock, another toast is given to welcome the New Year.

Some of us, would rather celebrate the New Year Eve in the restaurants, clubs or even pubs.

Baku capital city of Azerbaijan  offers a vast variety of luxury venues, where you can welcome your perfect New Year in fun, happy and most cheerful atmosphere. However, due to rush towards the best places, you should book your tickets well in advance. These are some of the venues I would personally recommend:

Hotels.

Four Seasons Hotel Baku
Address: 1 Neftçilər Prospekti, Bakı 1095, Azerbaijan
Phone:+994 12 404 24 24

Luxury hotel in Baku on the waterfront promenade – just steps from the Old City.

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JW Marriott Absheron Baku
Address: 674 Azadliq Square, Baku, Azerbaijan
Phone:+994 12 499 88 88

Luxury knows no bounds at the JW Marriott Absheron Baku. 5-star hotel rooms provide a contemporary backdrop for a magnificent stay in Azerbaijan, while  top-quality amenities will ensure that you have everything you need to relax and unwind. Each hotel room and suite offers modern design, a wealth of luxury resources and stunning city views; many rooms feature sensational panoramic views of the Baku skyline and the Caspian Sea.

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You can find out more about the hotels in Baku, Azerbaijan here

When I visit Baku, I love going to this place “Buddha-Bar Baku

99 Neftchilar Avenue, Absheron
Baku AZ1010, Azerbaijan
T. +994 12 404 82 09

From Paris to Dubai, London, Kiev, Cairo, Manila, Prague – more than 25 more cities across the world – now you can experience the entrancement of Buddha-Bar in Baku.

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The Old New Year celebrations are held quiet and is rather a commemoration of good old traditions.

Anyway, I can carry on chatting about Azerbaijan, but let`s move on.

If you would like to find out more about how to visit Azerbaijan, please do not hesitate to contact me here

Italy.

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Almost every country and culture celebrates New Year, and Italy is no different, with many Italians continuing to hold on to traditional customs, which promise to bring wealth and banish bad luck. Red Underwear Just after Christmas, shop windows will be awash with red undergarments; both men and women wear red underwear on New Year’s Eve to bring luck in the coming year; red is also the colour of fertility and those hoping to conceive in the following year also wear red.

Dinner is also steeped in tradition, with the New Year dinner historically being zampone e lenticchie (pig’s trotter and lentils); many supermarkets begin selling pre-packed trotters from mid-November. A variation on this, and more popular with the younger generation, is cotechino e lenticchie, a sausage that contains the meat of the trotter. (In Emilia-Romagna, cotechino and zampone are not just a New Year’s eve tradition, but are also eaten on Christmas day.) Italian folklore suggests that eating sausage before midnight is a good omen for the New Year; sausage made with pig’s trotters contains a high fat content and this symbolises abundance and, when eaten alongside the lentils, which are believed to bring good luck and prosperity, the diner’s financial forecast for the forthcoming year is predicted to be better than the previous.

The dinner is finished off with dried fruit and grapes. It is said to take great willpower to conserve some grapes from the harvest until New Year’s Eve, this indicates that everyone at the table will be wise and frugal with their newfound wealth.

To banish previous bad luck, particularly in southern Italy, there’s an attitude of out with the old and in with the new; however, this practice can be rather extreme, as old pots and pans, clothes or any old and unwanted items are thrown from upstairs windows. The act is seen to symbolise letting go of unhappiness in preparation for the future. If you’re out walking on New Year’s Eve in the south, it may be wise to borrow a crash helmet.

Korea

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I have visited this South Korea several times and fell in love with it.From modern skyscrapers and neon lights to Buddhist temples, palaces and pagodas, Seoul is a fascinating mix of old and new. A hub of business, culture and finance both within South Korea and internationally, Seoul houses the headquarters for some of the world’s largest corporations. It also has one of the world’s best subway systems – the easiest way to get around in this densely populated area. For the best view of the city, go to the tower on Namsan, one of the mountains that encircle the city.

In Korea, the Lunar New Year’s tradition is to eat Tteokguk, a rice cake soup. Tteokguk has symbolism and multiple meanings, even down to how the rice cakes are cut. The rice cake itself is made using a rice grain called “garaetteok,” which is a long, cylinder shape — this symbolizes a healthy, long life. The way the rice cake is cut represents the shape of the old Korean coin currency; it is eaten to help accumulate wealth and financial abundance. Finally, the white colour of the rice cake represents new beginnings.

Russia

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The celebrations start at about 11 pm, when the family is seated at the festive dinner. Shortly before 12 pm they toast “for the old year”, remembering and paying tribute to the good things it brought about. It is a custom in Russia to listen to the speech of the head of state broadcasted over TV and radio. The President traditionally summarizes the achievements of the past year and wishes Happy New Year to the citizens of Russia.

After the speech, at midnight sharp, the country listens to the Kremlin chimes, which signalize the beginning of the New Year. The chimes are followed by the country’s hymn.

During these exciting minutes all are drinking Champaign and wish each other Happy New Year. Afterwards lots of people like to go outdoors to let off all sorts of fireworks and bangers, and lit Bengal lights. Festive performances with songs, dances and games are held at the central squares of cities and towns.

New Year Popular Beliefs

There is a whole range of beliefs concerning the celebrations of the New Year. The most famous saying asserts: “As you meet the New Year, so will you spend it”. Thus everyone does one’s best to celebrate this decisive holiday merrily and in the hearty company of friends and family.

They also say, that one must “leave all the debts to the old year”, i.e. return the debts before the beginning of the coming year. On the New Year’s Night one ought to be wearing brand new clothes, which at the best should be of the “lucky colours” of the year to come.

This year the colour is Red.

One of the most significant and breath-taking elements of the New Year’s Night is making wishes. They believe that the utmost wishes made on the New Year’s Night will surely fulfil in the New Year. There is a unique method of making wishes that gives almost a hundred percent fulfilment guarantee: while the chimes are striking twelve, one should write the wish on a sheet of paper, burn it on a candle, mix the ashes in his/her glass of Champaign and drink it before the chimes cease striking.

Try it yourself!

Spain

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Like all other places in the world, New Year is widely celebrated in Spain with great zeal and enthusiasm. It is celebrated there as “Nochevieja” whose literal meaning is “old night” and lots of Spanish traditions are associated with it.

Most of the Spanish like to spend the New Year eve and the New Year day with their family members and close friends. It is also a common sight among the youngsters as well. There is a very interesting tradition followed among the Spanish during the New Year-eating 12 grapes. These grapes are eaten at every stroke of the clock as it strikes 12 on the New Year eve.Each grape is meant for each of the 12 months and traditionally it is believed that eating grapes at the beginning of the year brings good luck and prosperity for all 12 months. It was first started by the King of Spain and is still widely followed among the conservative Spanish families. People who gather at the world famous New Year event held at, Puerto del Sol in Madrid before the countdown begins, also follow the traditions.

New year celebrations for the Spaniards have no meaning if it is not spent with family. Elders in the home traditionally prepare a special round ring shaped cake which is cut exactly at 12’o clock in the presence of all family members and friends. The round ring shape is given as it symbolizes good luck. The striking feature of the cake is that the cook, while preparing it, puts some small gifts and good luck charms inside it. While eating the cake, whoever gets these goodies, is sure to have a good luck throughout the year.Fireworks form an integral part of a traditional New Year celebration. They are considered to be important as loud noise and sound of the bursting crackers drive away the evil spirits and leaves space for holiness and good luck.

A very funny yet significant customs prevails among the Spanish during New Year- wearing red coloured underwear. Red for them is a symbol of good luck and prosperity; hence they put it to embrace both. But one cannot purchase it for himself or herself, the red underwear must be gifted by someone else. Very interesting!

Traditionally many Spanish inhabitants eat chocolates or biscuits at the early Morning of the New Year day just to signify they had a wonderful celebration last night.

England.

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In the present time, the most common trend is to organize a house party on the New Year midnight where everyone from the family and close friends is invited to be a part of it. Also, special midnight parties organize in discotheques, pubs, clubs, and bars also see crowd passionately participating in it.

New Year day also see lot of theme parties, cruises, troupes, carnivals, live concerts, and salsa dance celebrations occurring in different parts of England. Among these, cruises and theme parties saw a large crowd coming from far distant places including foreign land. The New Year celebrations in England are considered to be incomplete, more specifically without the special cruise ride.

As soon as the clock in the midnight rings twelve, everyone present in the party, on the road, in the house hoot, shout, whistle, and create noise to mark the arrival of the New Year. It is followed by greeting everyone around by hugs and kisses. A drinking toast is raised by everyone in concert to officially get into the celebration grove.

Lavish meals are served, champagne flows in, creative fireworks are done, and everyone gets into the singing and dancing atmosphere on the biggest night of the year. New Year Parade which initiates on the noon of the New Year day saw thousands of people participating in it, with dancers, drummers, acrobats, musicians, and entertainers. The parade moves through the streets of Whitehall, Pall Mall, and eventually concluding at Berkley square.

Traditional Celebrations of New Year in England

In England, there is a traditional belief that whosever first arrives at the threshold of the household will be the one bringing good luck to the lives of the inhabitants of the household living in, for the entire coming year. The tradition is called as ‘First Footing’. As a part of ‘First Footing’ tradition, England people pray for young, healthy, handsome, and a dark haired male to be their first to arrive on New Year`s day. However, a woman, especially  blonde or a red-haired person is not welcome for the day, as they are considered to bring bad luck for the entire year.

More so, if that person carries coal, money, bread, salt, or holy mistletoe with him, then it is considered to be a sign of a good luck and prosperity for the rest of the year. Traditionally, the first footer is meant to follow and abide by certain customs and traditions. Few of them as mentioned in legends states that the first footer should always enter into the house from the front door, and should exit from the back door. Also, the first footer, without speaking or wishing to anyone or vice versa, should place the fuel (as carried along) on fire, should place loaf on the table, and should pour in water for the head of the household. Tradition also calls for gifting of the mistletoe by the visitor to any household member.

Other New Year Traditions in England

There is also a popular tradition of exchanging New Year gifts while wishing each other. However, with Christmas day falling few days before the New Year day, this tradition of exchanging gifts is now less followed. Then, there is a tradition of ‘burning of bush’, which is considered to be a symbol of burning of all past evils and making a new beginning. Other than this, the New Year morning see young kids waking up early, and then making rounds of neighbourhood while singing New Year celebration sings. Traditionally, whosoever does not sings before the noon of the New Year day is referred as a fool.

Despite the variance in traditions, cultures and behaviours around the world, there seems to be one thing that’s universal: fireworks and a kiss at the stroke of midnight.

If you would like to find out more about New Year Traditions around the World .These books are great.

1.New Year Traditions around the World by Ann Malaspina

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2.A Christmas Cornucopia: The Hidden Stories Behind Our Yuletide Traditions by Mark Forsyth

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3.Old Magic of Christmas: Yuletide Traditions for the Darkest Days of the Year
by Linda Raedisch

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