Romans prepare for the New Year festival which is known as January Kalends by decorating their houses with lights and greenery. The festival lasts for three days, during this time they hold feasts and exchange gifts which were carefully chosen for their luck-bringing properties these include such things as sweets or honey to ensure sweetness and peace as well as Gold, Silver or money for prosperity. Lamps for a year filled with light.
In South Africa they ring in the New Year with church bells ringing and gunshots being fired. For those in the Cape Province New Year’s Day and Second New Year’s Day are full of a carnival atmosphere as there are carnivals where people dress in colorful costumes and dance in streets to the sound of drums.
When the clock strikes midnight they eat 12 grapes one with every toll to bring good luck for the next 12 months of the New Year. Sometimes the grapes are washed down with wine. Theater productions and movies are interrupted to carry out this custom.
In Swaziland the harvest festival is called Newala or “first fruits” ceremony and takes place at the end of the year.
It is a celebration of kingship, traditional has it that the king of Swaziland, the Ngwenyama or “Lion”, has powers that are mystical and is believed to embody the Swaziland prosperity and fertility, and therefore it is said that he must have many wives and father many children.
The Thai New Year festival is called Songkran and lasts for three days from 13 to 15 April according the Gregorian calendar.
The customs are many such as people throw water over one another, under the guise of that it will bring good rains in the coming year and all the Buddha statues or images are washed. They visit the monastery to pray and offer gifts of rice, fruit, sweets and other foods for the monks.
The kiss shared at the stroke of midnight in the United States is derived from masked balls that have been common throughout history. As tradition has it, the masks symbolize evil spirits from the old year and the kiss is the purification into the new year.
New Year in Pakistan is known as Nowrooz or New Day. This day begins in March and traditionally represents the rebirth of nature after the long winter. The New Year begins the instant the sun is no longer in the astrological sign of Pisces and enters Aries.
It is celebrated as a time of renewal. One of the customs of Nawrooz is the practice of burning piles of wood. The bonfires are a symbol to destroy any remaining evil from the previous year.
Norwegians make rice pudding at New Year’s and hide one whole almond within. Guaranteed wealth goes to the person whose serving holds the lucky almond.
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