Le Jour de l’An

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New Year

New Year is an event that happens when a culture celebrates the end of one year and the beginning of the next year. Officially, in most countries January 1, the first day of the year in the Gregorian calendar, which is a reform of the Julian calendar and the most widely used calendar in the world, is celebrated as onset of the New Year. However, in different parts of the world, New Year is celebrated on different dates round the year.

New Year’s Eve, falling on Dec 31which is the day before the first day of the new calendar year, in most countries around the world is a festive occasion marked by boisterous celebrations to welcome the New Year.More… New Year’s Eve is the most exuberant holidays in Brazil manifest with a major display of fireworks and musical shows. The city of Sao Paulo also has a famous worldwide event: the Saint Sylvester Marathon in which athletes of many countries participate including the Olympic stars. In Canada and Australia, too, the celebrations are done with great fireworks. Sydney’s fireworks last for about 15-20 minutes and are rated as the best in the world. In some areas of rural Quebec, people fish and drink with their friends until the early hours of January 1. In China lunar New Year is celebrated after a few months into the year, however the Gregorian New Year is also celebrated in some areas. The Times Square shopping mall in Hong Kong also holds their own send offs to the ball drop held at Times Square in New York City. The Danes celebrate the New Year’s Eve with family and close friends, with fireworks, champagne and an evening meal of three courses. Ecuador celebrates a unique tradition on the last day of the year. Elaborate effigies are made out of straw, newspaper, old clothes and papier-mâché masks. They are created to represent people or events from the past year that they may have disagreed with or disliked. Often they are stuffed with firecrackers and lit with fire at midnight to symbolize the burning away of the past year and welcoming the new year. Another famous tradition is the ‘Widow’, which is usually a man dressed as a woman and makes people laugh by crying a lot. The French celebration is simple and intimate feast with friends and family, which customarily includes special dishes like ‘foie gras’ and champagne, or a much fancier ball. The Germans call their new year’s eve Sylvester. Since 1972, on every New Year’s Eve, German television has broadcasted a short video ‘Dinner for One’ in English. In Berlin, people attend festivities and huge fireworks are displayed. Indonesian people often celebrate it spectacularly with trumpet and fireworks. In Bandung, people celebrate in Dago open field and Pasupati Bridge, with their families, siblings and friends. In Japan, the Buddhist temples ring their bells for 108 times. The bells are rung to repent the Kilesa, or defilements. On TV, the red and white year-end song festival is a 50-year-old tradition. Mexicans drown a grape with each of the twelve chime of the bell during the New Year countdown, while making a wish with each one. On the eve, those who want love in the New Year wear red underwear and those who want money wear yellow!Gisborne is the first city in the world to see the first sunrise for the year and it is celebrated with large street parties and great fireworks. Filipinos usually celebrate New Year’s Eve with company of family and close friends and stage a dinner party called ‘media noche’ in their homes. Most Filipinos follow the set traditions of wearing clothes with circular pattern; which are believed to attract fortune and money, shaking coins inside a metal casserole while walking around the house etc. For Russian and Ukrainian families, New Year has the same significance as Christmas, and they often get Yolkas on this day, an equivalent of Christmas tree. In eastern European beliefs, instead of Santa Claus, there’s Ded Moroz, who looks similar to Santa Claus except than he wears robes and is pulled by a Troika. Families often gather for a large feast and reflect on the past year. Spanish people also believe that wearing red underwear on New Year’s Eve brings good luck. It is traditional to eat twelve grapes, one at each chime of the clock. After the clock finishes striking, twelve people greet each other and toast with sparkling wine or champagne. Most people in Taiwan celebrate New Year’s Eve with concerts. People gather around the roads around Taipei 101 and together they shout from 10 to zero. With each count, one of the layers of Taipei 101 lights up until zero, the fireworks shoot out from each layer in different directions. In Turkey, homes and streets are lit up in glittering lights, ornamented trees and garlands, and traditional Turkish aesthetic practices. Small gifts are exchanged and large family dinners are organized. In Scotland, it is customary to wait until the canon is fired at Edinburgh castle. This is a sign that New Year has begun. London and other cities of Britain like Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, come alive with the festivities. In the past hundred years, the “ball dropping” on top of the One Times Square in New York City, broadcast to all of America, is a major component of the new year celebration in US. The 1,070-pound, 6-foot-diameter Waterford-crystal ball located high above Times Square is lowered, starting at 23:59:00 and reaching the bottom of its tower at the stroke of midnight (00:00:00). It is sometimes referred to as “the big apple” like the city itself; the custom derives from the time signal that used to be given at noon in harbors. In Venezuela, many of the traditions are similar to the ones from Spain. Usually people listen to radio specials, during which it’s a tradition to broadcast songs about the sadness on the end of the year. In Austria, New Year’s Eve is called Sylverterabend, which is the eve of Saint Sylvester. They make a spiced punch in the honor of the saint. Evil spirits of the old year are chased away by firing of moroars, called boller. In Hungary people burn effigies or a scapegoat known as “Jack Straw”. The scapegoat represents the evils and misfortunes of the past year and burning it is supposed to get rid of all the bad luck. In South Africa, there is a carnival atmosphere on New Year’s Eve and the New Year is rung in with church bells ringing and gunshots being fired. In Wales, at around 3:00 to 4:00 am on the New Year’s morning, the boys of the village go from house to house with an evergreen twig to sprinkle on first the people, and then each room of their house, to bring good luck. The moment the clock strikes twelve, the Puerto Rican children enjoy throwing water out of the window at midnight, which symbolizes warding off evil spirits. In Bolivia, people hang beautiful little wood or straw dolls outside their homes so that the coming year brings good luck.While in India we celebrate New Year by sending greeting cards and wishes, and family gets together and parties, people of different countries, different traditions and different religions have their own unique ways of celebrating. Whatever the customs, traditions, or practices, people all over the world wish for prosperity, happiness and stress-free New Year. Wishing the same to all of you. Happy New YearVibhuti Rathore

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