Christmas may be done and dusted, but New Year’s Eve is rapidly approaching and for many of us that means having friends and family over for a delicious braai as we contemplate the year that was and look forward to a new year filled with fresh adventure and experiences. While we begin stocking up on all our favourite Halaal certified meat and sausage in preparation for a great evening, many other nations around the world choose to celebrate the new year in an entirely different (and often strange) way. Here are a few of the more interesting global traditions.
In Spain, a new year celebration involves grapes. In a tradition dating back to 1895, the Spaniards eat 12 grapes for luck – one with each of the twelve chimes at midnight – while making a wish as they count down.
In Denmark, it’s a really big cake and throwing dishes. The Danes believe in ending their New Year dinner with a Kransekage – that’s a huge cake resplendent with fire crackers and flags. And similar to the Greeks, who also believe in breaking a few dishes, the Danes believe that throwing dishes on someone’s doorstep on January 1st will ensure they have many friends in the coming year.
In Japan, it’s bells and spring cleaning. The Japanese also follow the Gregorian calendar and on New Year’s Eve, Buddhist temples ring their bells over a hundred times to welcome the New Year’s God to earth. They also believe in spring cleaning their homes as a way of shaking off the last year’s dust and welcoming in the new year.
In Greece, it’s onions and pomegranates. The Greeks believe the onion symbolises rebirth while the pomegranate symbolises prosperity, so they hang an onion on their door on New Year’s Eve and break a pomegranate on their doorstep on New Year’s Day before entering their home to bring them luck and good fortune.
And in Estonia, it’s over indulgence. The Estonians believe that with each meal consumed, you gain the strength of that many men in the coming year, so they can eat up to 12 meals on New Year’s Eve, although it’s not all consumed as the belief is also that left-overs should be kept for the spirits or ancestors who visit during the celebration.
Our rituals suddenly seem pedestrian in comparison, although as Cape Town meat wholesalers we do have the Cape Minstrels so we’re hardly lacking in pomp and ceremony. All rituals and traditions aside, wherever you may be in South Africa, and however you may choose to celebrate a new beginning, everyone at N1 would like to wish you a successful and prosperous New Year – may you be blessed and may 2017 be your year!