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     Volume 1 Issue 21 | December 31, 2006 |


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Celebrating New Year in different countries

Taslima Rawshan Tinni

Happy New Year!! Well, the very sound of the greeting announces the arrival of a new year, which brings along much happiness and enthusiasm. The New Year celebrations are not new to mankind as it was celebrated even in the Middle Ages. March 25 was considered to be the date of the arrival of New Year among the Christians during the middle ages. As the Gregorian calendar came into existence this date was changed to January 1st and since then the New Year falls on that date throughout the world. Apart from 1st January, different cultures and religions also have their own dates for New Year, which are celebrated by the followers of those religions with equal enthusiasm.

Common Celebrations on New Year's Day
The New York City's celebrations for New Year include a 1,070-pound, 6-foot-diameter Waterford crystal ball, which is situated above the Times Square. The ball is lowered at around 11:59 PM and as the clock hands show 12:00, the ball reaches the bottom part of the tower.

Massive bright fireworks go up to welcome the New Year in the Netherlands and other European countries. Bonfires of discarded Christmas trees are also common scenes during the New Year celebrations in some of the countries.

In Paris, New Year's Day is celebrated with full of fun and lots of enjoyment. New Year dinner cruises in Paris are arranged. On all these boats they have party and dinner with wine and Champaign. People enjoy the bright fireworks from the Eiffel tower at midnight!

In Sydney, Australians experience all the festivities at the harbor, enjoy one of the world's best fireworks display “Sydney New years Eve Fireworks!” at 12:00 AM on 1st January and also enjoy a delicious buffet dinner, open bar including sparkling wine, beer, soft drinks and delicious juice. They also love to dance on the event.

People in Japan celebrate the New Year on 1st January. At midnight on December 31st, Buddhist temples ring their bells 108 times, symbolizing the 108 human sins in Buddhist belief. It is thought that the tolling of the bells can take away the sins of the past year. New Year's cards are sent before New Year's Day but the post office keeps them and delivers them all at one time on January 1st.

Hogmanay, the Scottish New Year, is celebrated on the 31st of December every year. In large cities, such as Glasgow and Edinburgh, it has become a big festival. People look forward to watching 1000 Pipers gathering at Edinburgh castle and piping their way down to Holyrood Palace. Celebrations start in the early evening, and when the bells of Big Ben chime at the turn of midnight, everyone sings Auld Lang Syne. In more remote parts of Scotland “first footing,” and Scottish dances, or ceilidhs, take place. For centuries, torch light processions have played an important part in the Hogmanay celebrations.

New Year in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka
In India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh the New Year is celebrated in a very colorful manner with lots of food, music and exchange of gifts. It is observed that New Year is celebrated mostly in the cities with parties in popular hotels and clubs. The people in the Indian sub continents embrace the New Year with new hopes and expectations. They exchange gifts among their relatives and friends as a token of good luck for the upcoming year.

New year is celebrated in Bangladesh irrespective of social class and religion. They all congregate at a place, enjoy the music and food in a festive atmosphere. At the tick of 12 they make all sorts of sounds for welcoming the New Year and the party continues till midnight.

Diverse New Year Celebrations
* Spaniards rush to devour 12 grapes at the start of the New Year, eating one with each chime of the clock.

* Peruvians swallow the grapes whole while sitting underneath a table.

* Brazilians from Rio de Janeiro gather at beaches and plunge into the ocean at midnight offering flowers, candles, candies, cigars and sugarcane alcohol to the ocean goddess Iemanja.

* In the Fort de Chartres, Illinois, US residents put on cornhusk costumes and go door-to-door to sing old French tunes which is an old French tradition.


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