As the clock strikes midnight on December 31st, people around the world come together to bid farewell to the old year and welcome the new one. While celebrations may vary, one common theme unites us all—the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions. Let’s take a journey across the globe to explore how different cultures approach this age-old practice.
Japan: Kagami Mochi
In Japan, the New Year is celebrated with a traditional dish called Kagami Mochi. This special rice cake is offered to deities for good fortune. A common resolution is to engage in “Kaizen,” which means continuous improvement. Japanese individuals strive to better themselves in various aspects of life, be it personal or professional. Additionally, Buddhist temples across the country ring their bells 108 times starting at midnight. This practice is believed to cleanse everybody of the 108 human sins and the 108 worldly desires.
Scotland: Happy Hogmanay
Scotland celebrates with a New Year’s Festival called Hogmanay. On this day, the first person to enter a home after the stroke of midnight is called the “first-footer.” This person brings symbolic gifts like coins, bread, salt, and whisky, symbolizing prosperity, food, flavor, and good cheer. Scottish resolutions often revolve around fostering stronger community ties and spreading goodwill.
Spain: Eating Grapes
Spaniards have a unique way of ushering in the New Year. As the clock chimes twelve times, people in Spain consume twelve grapes—one for each stroke of the clock. Each grape is believed to bring good luck for the twelve months ahead. Resolutions in Spain often focus on health and well-being, with a commitment to maintaining a balanced diet and an active lifestyle.
Germany: Doughnuts & Lead Pouring
In Germany, a delightful New Year’s custom revolves around indulging in pfannkuchen or Berliners, delectable doughnuts typically filled with jam or liquor. However, a word of caution is in order—beware of the occasional prankster who may fill them with mustard instead. Falling victim to this unexpected twist is considered an unpleasant joke believed to bring ill fortune to those unsuspecting individuals.
Another German New Year’s practice is Bleigießen – melting small pieces of lead and pour them into cold water. The resulting shapes are believed to predict the future. For example, a stork suggests travel and a pig represents good luck. Germans often resolve to embrace new experiences and broaden their horizons in the coming year.
Brazil: Jumping Waves
On Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazilians celebrate the New Year by jumping seven waves while making seven wishes. These wishes are believed to come true if the waves are successfully jumped. Brazilian resolutions frequently involve setting personal and career goals, with an emphasis on joy and fulfillment.
Resolutions from The International Center
As we embrace traditions from around the world, let’s also consider resolutions that promote global unity and understanding. The International Center suggests the following resolutions for a more connected and compassionate world:
Cultural Exchange: Resolve to engage in meaningful cultural exchanges to foster mutual understanding and appreciation.
Environmental Stewardship: Commit to sustainable practices and eco-friendly habits to preserve our planet for future generations.
Language Learning: Take the initiative to learn a new language, promoting effective communication and breaking down linguistic barriers.
Community Service: Dedicate time to community service and charitable endeavors, contributing to the well-being of those less fortunate.
Peace Advocacy: Pledge to promote peace and harmony by fostering dialogue and understanding between diverse communities.
As we embark on a new year, let’s draw inspiration from these global traditions and resolutions. May the coming months be filled with growth, kindness, and shared experiences that transcend borders. Happy New Year!
By: Grace Bland, Marketing & Communications Manager