Happy New Year!

New year’s day as we call it follows a night of revelry in most parts of the world. The Gregorian calendar NYE is the 13th January but I’m sticking to the more common Julian calendar used to mark the day. I thought given the Acquarius Trust Group is international I’d give the first blog of 2018 about the varying customs for the first day. As Spain is our closest neighbour I’ll start there.

Christmas eve is “nochebuena” (the good night) and it is the night Spaniards and Latin Americans celebrate Christmas. New years eve they call it “nochevieja” (the old night). If you’ve ever spent one in Spain it is usually a large family dinner with seafood, wine, some meat and at midnight the custom is to eat a single grape at every strike of the bells. Many fail to eat them all and and end up stuffing them in which in itself is fun. The professionals get grapes “sin semilla” (without the pips) and manage quite easily. Following dinner they normally gather around while the younger element head into the night to parties, music and more of that drinking. 

Germany is similar to the UK; “New Year” celebrations are called “Sylvester” although the name”sylvester” seems odd it refers to Saint Sylvester who saints day is January 1st. They have their parties and also go from door to door partaking in traditional dishes but the most curious of all is the film “Dinner for One” the germans call it “Birthday for One”. Every household turns on the TV for this small 18 minute, black and white film. I experienced first in 1986 at a friend’s house, It has traditionally been broadcast on German television on New Year’s Eve since 1972. The version traditionally broadcast on German television was originally recorded in 1963, and was occasionally used as filler programming by NDR due to popular demand; in 1972, Dinner for One received its traditional New Year’s Eve scheduling. The sketch, as well as its catchphrase “the same procedure as every year”, are well-known in German pop culture. Dinner for One is also broadcast on or around New Year’s Eve in other European countries, although it is, ironically, relatively unknown in the United Kingdom. It’s all about a dinner in an english home with a waiter (butler) and the Lady celebrating her 90th birthday with her friends, except she has outlived them all. If you want to add it to your own traditions next NYE here is a link, Dinner for One.

In Greece when midnight arrives they all countdown with the lights off and their eyes closed, reopening their eyes to “enter the new year with a new light”.

The Swiss love a dollop of cream or ice cream, ensuring to drop a bit on the floor to bring plenty in the coming year.

In Turkey people wear red lingerie for luck. They also throw pomegranates for luck so maybe a red crash helmet could be useful too.

In Italy they eat lentil soup one spoonful per bell toll although this is not a strongly followed as it used to be. Wearing red is also traditional as it signifies the colour of love and fertility. In St Mark’s Sq in Venice there is also the traditional kiss-a-thon so book your hotel, wear red and pucker up for about 35,000 kisses, double if it floats your boat.

Specific colour underwear is not just a tradition in Argentina, wearing pink means you’re looking for love on New Years Eve.

In Columbia and Ecuador they like to set fire to scarecrows and dummies as a way for the new year to leave the bad behind. Ecuadorians also run around the block pulling an empty suitcase for good luck on their travels. If you don’t feel like walking you can take it in and out of your front door 12 times instead.

Though not as common as it was probably due to the danger, in Johannesburg they throw furniture from tall buildings. Storing their old furniture, fridges etc it is supposed to symbolise casting away old problems and a fresh start.

The Chinese paint their door red or place red cutouts on the windows and doors for luck and the Japanese ring a bell 108 times (Joya no kane) representing the worldly desires or sins of the buddhist religion.

Whilst in good old Blighty the Scottish swing their balls of fire to ward off evil, the Welsh won’t lend you anything on new years day and I as an englishman (then a boy) spent a few new year eves out in the cold, waiting for the chimes with a piece of bread and a lump of coal.

Wherever you are we at the Acquarius Trust Group wish you every success and happiness for 2018