Lifestyle & Travel

Nov 30, 2015

New Year, Old Traditions

New Year is always about anticipating a miracle. In all nations the point when one year is changed by another is considered to be special. The tradition of the New Year celebration appeared more than 2500 years ago in Mesopotamia. In those days it was celebrated not on the 1st of January, like today, but in March. Later, this holiday passed from Babylonians to Jews, from Jews to Greeks, and so on to other peoples of Western Europe. In the year 46 A.D. the Roman Emperor Julius Cesar had transferred the celebration of the New Year to the 1st of January, and, gradually, the other nations of the world started to celebrate it on this day. Such was the long trip of this wonderful holiday of fir-trees, lights, presents and Santa Claus up to our epoch. 

Let's see the different traditions of the world on this day:

Bulgaria

The New Year in Bulgaria is a very bright and colorful holiday. The Bulgarians usually celebrate it at home, at the table with the family. They believe the richer the table is, the more fruitful and successful the year will be, so the tables are full of food. Tradition says, on a Bulgarian New Year table there should be no less than twelve dishes, with no meat dish among them!

To celebrate the New Year, a Bulgarian wears everything new. During the celebration, the Bulgarians tap rings of each other as if they clink glasses, and at midnight sharp, the lights of all homes go out for three minutes, called "minutes of New Year kisses", the secrets of which stay in the dark. Sometimes, on previous accordance, Bulgarians make "competitions" -  who can kiss more people. This shows the wordless wish of love, happiness and success for the New Year.

After the dinner, young people make sticks of cornelian cherry ("survachki"), decorated with a red thread, heads of garlic, nuts, coins, prunes and dried fruit. They bring these sticks while visiting neighbours, enter into their houses and hit the hosts on the backs with them. This ritual is considered to bring luck, health and wealth into the house.
Честита Нова Година! Happy New Year!

Russia

Up until 1700 A.D., Russia used to count years from the point of "The Creation of the World in a Star Temple" (CWST). In the year of 7207 (1700, according to the current calendar) Peter I had changed both the calendar itself, and the way of celebrating of the New Year, after ordering the count of the years to start from 1700 A.D. According to the old Russian calendar, 2016 is the year of 7523 CWST.

While celebrating, all the family is gathered at the table. They cook Russian salad, herring "under a fur coat", cabbage rolls, sandwiches with caviar, dumplings, among many others.

Firstly, Russians "see off" the Old Year – they remember its most remarkable events. After the Head of State addressed to the people on TV, at 12 o'clock sharp the chimes start ringing, symbolizing the entrance of the New Year. At this moment, everyone clinks glasses with champagne, makes wishes, and congratulates each other. Then, the national anthem is on. This tradition is 70 years old.

On the New Year day, they give presents, visit friends, and have fun at the ice towns with New Year trees constructed at the main squares of cities, towns and villages. A Russian New Year celebration is not possible without "Ded Moroz" (Santa Claus) and his grand-daughter "Snegurotchka" (Girl Made-of-Snow), who visit children to hear them recite poems and sing songs under the New Year Tree, then they give presents to them.

Besides New Year, the holiday of the Old Year is also celebrated in accordance with the New Year by the Julian calendar (nowadays on the 13th to 14th of January, corresponding to December 31st, and January 1st by the "old calendar"). Lately, this tradition of the Old Year celebration has been growing more and more popular.
С Новым годом! Happy New Year!

Kazakhstan

The New Year in Kazakhstan is celebrated twice: on January 1st, by the European tradition, and on March 22nd, after the spring equinox. The tradition to celebrate New Year on December 31 to January 1 appeared during the Soviet period of Kazakhstan, so it has little difference with that of Russia. Nowadays it's one of the most popular holidays in the country.

The second New Year celebration in Kazakhstan is "Nauriz Meirami", celebrated in accordance with the Eastern traditions on the 22nd of March.

Kazakhs believe, the merrier the New Year-"Nauriz" is celebrated, the happier the coming year will be. The celebration starts with all the neighbourhood traditionally gathering to see the dawn, then all people go to a spring or a river to clean it. Afterwards, they plant new trees on the street.

"Dastarkhan" (traditional Kazakh low dinner table) is set in every home. They start eating by midday, before and after the meal the mullah reads prayers in honour of the ancestors. Before the aksakals (the elders) 7 dishes with the traditional food "Nauriz-kozhe" made of 7 ingredients are set. Among these ingredients are meat, salt, fat, onions, wheat, kurt.

The celebration of "Nauriz" in Kazakhstan is usually accompanied by folk games, races, amusements. A girl would challenge a dzhigit (horseman) for a competition; should he win, he can marry her; should she win, the dzhigit must obey her and fulfil all her orders. Thus, "Nauriz" would transform to a wedding.
Жаңа жылыңызбен! Happy New Year!

Portugal

The city people love to stay out dancing and walking during this night. When the city clock strikes midnight, they congratulate each other, wishing happiness, and exchange presents.

At home, a good dinner awaits a Portuguese. At a big family table, they'll treat you to salted cod-fish and sweet port wine. At midnight, along with each stroke of the clock, everyone eats a raisin and makes a wish.

It is a custom in Portugal to present friends and family with a King's Pie, covered with almonds and candied fruits. In old times, a little figure or a medal surprise was baked in, to bring peace to home of the person who found it. According to a legend, the Magi on their way to the place of Jesus' birth received presents from people for the Magi to give to the new-born baby; everything was put into a big sack. There was flour, butter, sugar, eggs, nuts, raisins, candied fruit. On the top of it they put a milk jar, which got overturned on the way, and everything got mixed. As a result, they got dough, which was molded into the shape of a crown and given to the Child. It was long ago, and nowadays the confectioneries reduce the other pastry's production and start baking the King's Pie 24/7. Within the month of this pie's production, they make a year's turnover.

At midnight on December 31, in Portuguese cities one can hear a sudden terrible noise, shouts, rattle. Keep calm – it's the local population celebrating the New Year! The citizens of this country on this night lean out of their windows and bang their saucepans and frying pans. The village youth on a New Year night goes from house to house singing "Janeiras" – New Year chants. They are dressed into strange clothes and masks, usually headed by the "old man" or the "old woman" made of straw and dressed with ragged clothes; with songs and laughter the dolls are carried around the village, and, in the end, they are ceremonially burned. This burning symbolizes the liquidation of the old year with all its adversities.
Feliz Ano Novo! Happy New Year!

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