New Year’s Day

Shhhh! We’re counting the seconds to midnight. The New Year is almost here. As the clock begins to strike 12, noise fills the air in many parts of the world. Church bells ring out and people toot horns. Everyone shouts, “Happy New Year!”

Why is there so much noise? It’s one way people show how happy they are. It’s also an old custom. Long ago, people believed that loud noises scared away evil spirits.

Many people also celebrate New Year’s Day with special customs. Some visit friends and relatives. Some make New Year’s resolutions. They promise themselves to do better in the New Year than they did in the old year.

Children in Belgium write their parents New Year’s messages on decorated paper and read them on New Year’s Day. In Russia, children may visit the Kremlin in the heart of Moscow. There, they see a huge fir tree called the New Year Tree. The tree is decorated with many coloured lights.

In Scotland, the evening of December 31 is called Hogmanay. People wait up on Hogmanay until midnight for the “first footer” to arrive. The “first footer” is the first person to cross over the doorstep on the first day of the New Year. According to Scottish tradition, the first footer carries a piece of coal to bring wealth, and a sprig of mistletoe to protect the family from the old year’s spirits.

In Ecuador, people make a straw man dressed in their old clothes. They give the man a list of their family’s faults, and then burn him and the list at midnight to get rid of all their faults.

In many parts of the world, people eat special foods to bring good luck in the coming year. In Japan, people eat a kind of pink fish called red snapper. Pink is a lucky colour in Japan. In southern India, they boil new rice to bring good luck.

In Portugal, people choose 12 grapes from a bunch. They eat them one by one as the clock strikes midnight.

In countries in Europe, roast pig is often served on New Year’s Day. In Hungary, the pig has a four-leaf clover in its mouth for good luck.

In Romania, people stuff their pockets with corn. They walk from house to house “sowing” the corn by tossing it at friends to bring them good luck.

How do you welcome the New Year? Try some of these ideas or make up some of your own!

Picture Credit : Google