We all know the usual champagne cork pop as a signal of a great celebration, including the New Year. Aside from the norm, some countries offer a twist on their beverage toast.
In some parts of England, a beverage made of hot mulled cider, Wassail, is served. The name Wassail is Gaelic for “good health”. Similarly, in Scotland, spiced hot pot is their version of Wassail and it’s traditional to have a glass or two at home prior to sharing with neighbors. The Dutch also celebrate with a toast of hot, spiced wine.
Delicious foodie traditions and New Years go hand-in-hand; in some cultures, eating any ring-shaped treats is said to lead to good fortune and symbolize “coming full circle” – in Dutch households, pastries called olie bollen are served. In southern United States, black-eyed peas and pork are said to offer good fortune as well. India and Pakistan celebrate with rice, which promises wealth and success.
THE SEASON TO GIVE
Although it is not as common today, New Years was once a time that involved the exchange of goods and other gifts.
In Rome, gilded nuts or coins keyed the start of a new year, while eggs were exchanged by the Persians, symbolizing fertility. A trading aspect is involved in Scotland, where they exchange coal, shortbread and silverware for good luck.
LOTS OF NOISE
In Italy, church bells ring while drums beat in Switzerland and North America sounds sirens, party horns and more to say farewell to the previous year and welcome the New Year to come. In China, firecrackers are sent off to rid off forces of darkness, similar to ancient Thailand where guns were fired to scare off bad spirits.