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New Year Traditions

January 1st marks the start of a new year, it is a time when most of us reflect on the past and look forward to a successful future. And to ensure our expectations we all have our rituals, passed down to us throughout the generations, that appease the Gods-of-Luck and guarantee our excellent prospects. Here are a few of the typical New Year traditions observed worldwide.

England: They believe that the first guest for the year would bring fortune for them. The guest should be a male, should enter through the front door and bear some traditional gifts like loaf for the kitchen, drink for the head of the family and coal to light the fire, otherwise he is not allowed. They believe that these bring good luck throughout the year.

Denmark: Danes ring in the New Year by hurling old plates and glasses...against the doors of friends' and relatives' houses. This symbolizes friendship and brotherhood and they believe the one with maximum dishes outside, has the most friends. They also stand on chairs and then jump off them together at midnight. Leaping into January is supposed to banish bad spirits and bring good luck.

China: The Chinese have a unique way of celebrating New Year, where every front door of a house is painted in red which symbolizes happiness and good fortune. They hide all the knives for the day so that no one cuts oneself, because that may actually cut the entire family good luck for the coming year. It's not surprising that China, the country that invented fireworks, also makes setting them off a central part of New Year's celebrations. It's believed the noise scares off evil spirits and misfortune.

Brazil: Brazilians believe that lentils signify wealth and prosperity. So they serve food items made up of the legume like soup or rice on the New Year. On New Year’s Eve, the priestesses dress up in blue and white for an auspicious ceremony celebrated for the water goddess. Also a sacrificial boat filled with jewelery, candles and flowers from the beach of Rio de Janeiro is pushed to the ocean that brings health, wealth and happiness for them.

German & Austria: Lead is considered to be auspicious here. They pour molten lead into cold water and the shape that is taken after, predicts the future. Heart shapes symbolize marriage whereas round shapes denote good luck; anchor shapes tell that you need help however a cross signifies someone’s sad demise. If you don't want to actually melt metal, there’s an app to do it for you.

Belgium: They call the New Year eve, Saint Sylvester Eve. They believe in throwing family parties, where everyone kisses and exchanges fortune greetings. Children usually save money to buy decorative paper so that they can write and gift New Year greetings to elders.

France: They like to keep things simple and delicious. Every new year they consume a stack of pancakes.

Spain: The New Year’s tradition for good luck revolves around eating 12 grapes for 12 months of good luck. But here's the catch: to bring about a year's worth of good fortune, you must start eating the grapes when the clock strikes midnight, then eat one for each toll of the clock.

The Philippines: it’s all about the cash. They believe that everything should be round, they wear polka dots because the circle represents prosperity. Coins are kept in pockets and are jangled to attract wealth.

Japan: They ring all their bells 108 times in alignment with the Buddhist belief that this brings cleanness. It’s also considered good to be smiling going into the New Year as it supposedly brings good luck.

Mexico and Brazil: It's believed the color of your undergarments will influence what kind of year you'll have. Tradition holds that yellow underwear will bring prosperity and success, red will bring love and romance, white will lead to peace and harmony and green will ensure health and well-being.

Times Square: Before the ball, there were fireworks. The first New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square in New York City was held in 1904, culminating in a firework show. When the city banned fireworks two years later, event organizers arranged to have a 700-pound iron and wood ball lowered down a pole. In the years since, it's become a tradition for Americans to watch the ball start dropping at 11:59 p.m. and to count down the final seconds before the new year begins.

Auld Lang Syne: The song literally means "old long ago." The work by 18th-century Scottish poet Robert Burns has endured the ages and spread beyond Scotland and throughout the English-speaking world. The song is about, the love and kindness of days gone by, but ... it also gives us a sense of belonging and fellowship to take into the future.

Kissing at midnight: Perhaps you'll have a New Year's Eve kiss that was the defining moment in a sweeping love story or maybe you'll pucker up with the person who happens to be standing next to you because, well, that's just what people do. But why? Not doing so will ensure a year of loneliness, according to tradition. The custom may date to ancient European times to ward off evil spirits.

Whatever your particular tradition for ringing in the New Year, we at G.A. Farrell & Associates wish you a happy and prosperous New Year!