Today, December 31st, marks the last day of 2015! New Year’s always brings excitement and celebration as everyone anxiously awaits for the clock to strike 12am. The new year first hits small islands around Fiji, followed by parts of Russia and Australia. In fact, it’s already 2016 in almost half of the globe! As midnight falls in each time zone, there are various events held to ring in the new year. Here are just a few of the awesome ways New Year’s is observed around the world!
One of the first continents that get to experience the new year is Australia! In the land down under, a huge celebration is held in Sydney. New Year occurs during Australia’s summer months, making it a perfect outdoor celebration off the Sydney Harbour. Australians and tourists sail out on boats, lay on the beaches, and pitch tents by the waterfront to get a view of the fireworks set off above the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House.
The Okera-Mairi Festival takes place in Kyoto, Japan, at the Yasaka-jinja Shrine. This event carries out the rituals of praying for a New Year of safety and blessings. To ensure this, wishes are written on thin pieces of wood and are then burned in campfires, along with the root of a medicinal herb that is suppose to rid any evil energy from the past year. The people light straw rope from the fire at the shrine to light a fire at home the next day and cook Zoni soup over it. This practice is believed to protect the family from harm in the new year. To conclude the festival, everyone moves to the Kyoto Tower for the perfect view of the first sunrise of the year.
New Year’s in Brazil calls for a beach party! Rio de Janeiro happens to be the hot spot, being home to many shores including Coppacabana, which is the most popular place to celebrate. The night is filled with fireworks, food, and fun traditions! The attire consists of all white with colored undergarments or swimwear. With the beach setting, many partake in jumping over seven waves while they make a wish for the new year on each one. As the party goes on, offerings must be made to Lemanjá; the goddess of the sea in Brazilian and African myths. Floating candles, flowers, and other items of beauty are sent into the ocean along with wishes for the upcoming year. By midnight, everyone is to eat seven grapes or raisins for good luck!
Each year at the First People Centre/The Bethesda Art Centre in South Africa, the Festival of Lights is held on New Year’s Eve. This beautiful event is run by a company dedicated to producing all forms of art, while aiding the less fortunate. The Festival of Lights is full of music and light as the lanterns are carried through the town accompanied by joyful songs. The night continues when the people gather back to the centre for dancing and food. Prior to the event, workshops are held to make the lanterns.
Over in Europe, Germany celebrates “Sylvester” on December 31st, which is their term for New Year’s due to it also being St. Sylvester’s day. A popular place to gather for this special day is in Berchtesgaden. Here, members of various shooting clubs gather with their Handböller (black powder guns) for the annual New Year’s shooting show! They begin to fire their guns at 11:30 and do so until midnight. Fireworks are also used during this event, creating a loud and bright way to bring in the new year. This tradition is known as “Weihnachtsschützen” and also occurs on Christmas Eve.
The United States
How can we forget one of the largest New Year’s Eve celebrations in the world? Every year in New York City, people from all over the country (and beyond) gather in Time Squate to watch the ball drop. Or, like most Americans, it’s watching it all happen on ABC for the annual showing of “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” which broadcasts live from New York City. The Big Apple has become a famous place to spend the holiday with special performances and the final countdown as the ball drops. It’s a celebration everyone looks forward to, whether they spend it bundled up in Times Square, or watching from the comfort of their living room.
The Performer wishes you a very happy New Year! Have a healthy and fun 2016!
Article written by Kylie Miller.