New Year’s Traditions in Other Countries

Many countries have their own unique traditions of welcoming a new year. The Chinese hang or paint red characters on their doors that symbolize happiness and good fortune, Danish break piles of dishes to symbolize friendship and brotherhood, Brazilians eat dishes with many legumes which symbolizes wealth and prosperity, Americans celebrate with champagne and football, and Japanese traditionally eat long noodles to symbolize longevity. However, Scottish New Year traditions are still quite famous and widely practiced today, called Hogmanay.

The Scottish New Year’s Eve is called Hogmanay or Night of the Candle. Special foods such as haggis, three-cornered biscuits, cheese, shortbread, oatcakes, currant loaf and scones are exchanged as gifts and enjoyed along with the best cold cure of all, the water of life, Scottish Whisky!
An integral part of the Hogmanay partying is to offer warm hospitality to family, friends and strangers and wish everyone a Guid New Year. The simple and basic underlining purpose is to clean away the vestiges of the past year and welcome the New Year on a happy note.

Days before the New Year, Scots clean and scrub their houses including emptying fireplaces of coal. A purification ritual is typically performed by burning juniper branches, which are then carried through the house to remove any bad omens, germs or lingering diseases.

hogmanay cleaning
Another important aspects of Hogmanay is the foot footer tradition, where the first person to set foot into your home on New Year’s day will decide the family’s luck for the rest of the year. Traditionally, this person should be male, tall and dark-haired because when a blonde stranger arrived on your doorstep during Viking days, trouble would soon follow. The first footer must bring a lump of coal for the empty fireplace, shortbread or a black bun slice and whisky to eat and drink and salt to symbolize fortune.

On New Year’s Eve, it is also custom to have large torch and bonfire ceremonies. Even in modern times, some magical firework displays and torchlight parades are quite similar to ancient Scottish Hogmanay pagan parties. Traditionally, townspeople will dress in cattle hides and run around the village being hit by sticks. Festivities would also include bonfire lightings, rolling blazing tar barrels down hills and tossing torches. By doing this, evil spirits are warded off so a fresh year can begin.

In fact, one of the most spectacular fire ceremonies takes place in Stonehaven, just south of Aberdeen on the North East coast of Scotland. Huge fireballs, weighing up to 20lbs are lit and then swung around on five-feet long metal poles. Around 60 men carry them as they are marched up and down the streets. The fireballs are believed to consume any remaining evil spirits.


No matter where you are from or where you are right now, we at Shanghai Properties hope you enjoy your New Years and New Years Eve 2015 with your own special traditions! 🙂 Cheers to a New Year!

adrienne-black-top-smallAdrienne Farrelly is one of Shanghai’s most experienced expatriate Property Agents helping expats find new homes since 1994. You can reach her at  +86 13122 810 421 or Connect with her on Skype at shanghaiproperties8. Shanghai Properties


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