Happy New Year, all! We hope you’re full of turkey, ham, or your festive food of choice and surrounded by gifts that you like, rather than ones you’re wondering to whom you can re-gift them. We also hope that amongst your gifts are things that are language-related, but then we are language geeks, so that’s understandable. As we say goodbye to 2015 and welcome in 2016, here are some felicitations for you to practice as the clock strikes midnight around the globe. We’ll also take a quick look at some of our favourite traditions; enjoy!
Hungarian boldog új évet
Heat it up
Ecuador likes to see the new year in by burning paper-stuffed scarecrows. Panama also practices new year burning, with effigies of the famous. In the spirit of out with the old, in with the new, these offerings are thought to bring good fortune.
Albanian gëzuar vitin e ri
Are you a fortune teller?
If so, get yourself to Finland for New Year. In a tradition that dates back to the eighteenth century, tin is cast on New Year’s Eve. A scoop of this metal is held above heat, and once melted is dropped into a bucket of cold water. When the metal is cool enough its shape is interpreted; vaguely-shaped ships can mean travelling, almost-rings could signal proposals – it really is up to your imagination.
Polish szczęśliwego nowego roku
We love you, France. Pancakes sound like a lovely, simple way to celebrate the new year. We’ll take ours smothered in maple syrup, thanks.
Portuguese feliz ano novo
Pots and pans
There are a couple of new year traditions involving pots and pans that we love. One is seen in Puerto Rico where they are filled with water, and this is thrown out the front door at midnight. In Australia, the Philippines and also in some parts of the UK, it’s a little more lively; at the stroke of midnight people take to the streets to bang loudly on those pots and pans like an impromptu parade. This is supposed to chase away bad spirits and welcome in good luck for the year ahead.
Yoruba e ku odun, eku iyedun
You must be joking
But we’re not. Honest. In the UK, every New Year’s Day, swimmers brave the less than clement waters of the surrounding seas for an en masse dip. Often this is done for charity: typically the Saundersfoot New Years Day swim sees at least 2000 participants and has raised over £500,000 to date. We’re very impressed. But we’re not partaking ourselves, thank you very much.
Norwegian godt nyttår
New underwear is a thing for New Year. In Argentina they are pink to attract love (or red for men), in Turkey they are red to attract good luck (as they are in China for Chinese New Year by the way), Colombia favours yellow for happiness and peace, and Puerto Rico white for fertility and love.
Estonian head uut aastat
Eating of the grapes
It is traditional to eat twelve grapes at midnight in Spain, so much so that there is actually a televised countdown. People have been known to skin the grapes in advance for ease of eating, and you can actually buy packs of twelve grapes, fresh or dried, in supermarkets. For each gong between 11:59:50 and 00:00:00 you must eat a grape in order to receive luck for the rest of the year.
Welsh blwyddyn newydd dda
You might be thinking Robert Redford and The Horse Whisperer, and we’d quite understand. However, New Year in Romania involves a ritual in which farmers attempt to communicate with their livestock. If successful, the farmers can look forward to a flourishing farming year. On the theme of livestock, Belgian farmers ensure they wish their cows a happy new year in order to get some of that same farming luck coming their way.
Yakut (Sakha) Кэлэн иһэр саҥа дьылынан
You might want to look up…
…if you’re in Johannesburg or Italy for New Year. In the name of starting over anew, residents here throw out their unwanted furniture via their window and into the street below. We’re sure you don’t want to have a couch on your head since New Year hangovers are bad enough, so we advise that you tread carefully or duck.
Esperanto feliĉan novan jaron
Eating in the new year
We like this one a lot. In fact we’re pretty sure we do this already. In Estonia, there are seven meals to be eaten on New Year’s day to ensure abundance for the coming year. We are signed up and ready to participate.
Arabic سنة جديدة سعيدة
A tradition that involves champagne is one we’re happy to get on board with, so Russia is where we’re headed next. A wish is written on a piece of paper, burnt, then thrown into a glass of champagne. You have from midnight until one minute past to drink that champagne in order for your wish to come true.
Romanian un an nou fericit
You make our hearts sing? Perhaps that’s just seasonal indigestion. Either way, in the Philippines the New Year is surrounded by roundness. Round food, round clothes, round everything in the name of symbolising coins and therefore prosperity. Can we add round tummies to the mix?
You know what comes next…
After the excessive eating and drinking of New Year comes the ultimate of traditions; the humble New Year’s Resolution. Want something to listen to when you’re on the treadmill? How about some music in another language. Want to meet new people? Why not sign up for a language class. Or if you know, you want to, you could just make your new year’s resolution this time round to be to learn a new language. Why not contact us and see what we have on offer to help you make your resolution a reality.