The celebration of the new year is filled with joy and excitement as family and friends come together to say goodbye to the old and embrace the new possibilities of the year ahead. Many Americans watch the ball drop at midnight, the most famous of which being in Times Square, NYC.
Like any holiday, everyone has unique traditions when they celebrate the new year. In fact, there are many new year’s traditions around the world that you may not be familiar with. Read on to learn more about how the new year is celebrated around the world, and maybe incorporate some of these traditions into your own celebrations.
- Japan – Eating soba noodles
The tradition of eating hot soba noodles to commemorate the new year can be traced as far back as the 13th or 14th century, but it wasn’t until the Edo Period (1603-1868) that it became a common practice. The ingredients carry some symbolism. The buckwheat noodles represent the strength and resilience of the buckwheat crop, as well as a growth in fortune as buckwheat flour was once used to gather gold dust from goldsmithing. Slurping the long noodles also symbolizes a fulfilling, long and peaceful life.
- Central and South America – Eating twelve grapes
This Spanish tradition can be traced back to grape farmers in Spain celebrating a bountiful harvest, but it may also be inspired by a French tradition of drinking champagne and eating grapes on New Year’s Eve. Across Central and South America, eating a grape for each of the twelve chimes of a clock at midnight guarantees you will have a lucky year.
- Haiti – Sharing soup joumou
New Year’s Day – January 1st – also marks Haitian Independence Day. In celebration, Haitians celebrate by eating soup joumou, a squash-based soup with beef, carrots, cabbage, noodles, potatoes, herbs and spices. During their enslavement under French rule, Black Haitians were not allowed to eat soup joumou. Enjoying the traditional dish is a celebration of freedom from colonial rule.
Happy New Year from Yonkers Public Library!
Alison Robles is a part-time clerk at the Crestwood Library. She is an avid reader with a passion for YA lit, history and science fiction. A Yonkers native, she graduated from Iona University in 2020 with a dual-degree in Marketing and Public Relations.