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New Year Traditions

New Year’s Around the World

It’s official: 2016 is drawing to a close. While New Year’s celebrations around the world almost universally involve fireworks and drinking, many places have their own intriguing local traditions as well. Here’s a look at some interesting ways that people around the world are welcoming in 2017:

Scotland: Hogmanay

The Scottish New Year’s celebration is called Hogmanay. This is an ancient festival with roots that go back to the pre-Christian era. Many Hogmanay customs are designed to provide celebrants with good luck in the coming year. For example, the “first-foot,” or the first person to enter the house after the clock strikes midnight, brings gifts for the household. In some regions, this person is believed to bring good or bad fortune depending on their physical characteristics, with “tall, dark and handsome” men being preferred.

Fire is another traditional part of Hogmanay celebrations. For example, in Stonehaven, people build fireballs by wrapping chicken wire around flammable substances like paper. Then, they run through the town to the sea, swinging the fireballs over their heads until they go out or until they reach the water’s edge.

Denmark

According to Travel + Leisure, one popular Danish New Year’s tradition is for everyone to jump off chairs at the stroke of midnight. Per Wikipedia, it’s also traditional to throw old dishes at your friends’ houses on New Year’s Eve, but according to this article that tradition is no longer practiced. Any Danes want to weigh in? Read more

Wedding Traditions from Around the World

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re well aware of the fact that the Royal Wedding was this past Friday. Millions of people around the world tuned in to watch the traditional “white wedding,” and what a beautiful ceremony it was! But that’s not the only way to get married, by any means. In honor of the happy couple, let’s take a look at some of the more interesting traditions surrounding marriage in different parts of the world:

Show Me the Money

Starting a new life together is expensive. In some countries, wedding guests are expected to give the happy couple the most practical gift of all: Cold, hard cash. For example, in many parts of Greece, it is traditional for guests to pin money to the bride’s dress as she dances during the wedding reception. Interestingly, this also a tradition in some parts of the Philippines. In Southern Italy, wedding guests are expected to hand the newlyweds envelopes of cash as they exit the reception in exchange for a wedding favor. Read more

5 Unusual Christmas Traditions from Around the World

Christmas is celebrated in many different countries around the world, but the way it’s celebrated varies from place to place. Here are 5 of the most unusual ways to celebrate the holiday:

Catalonia – Tió de Nadal

In Catalonia, one important part of the Christmas celebration is the “Tio de Nadal,” or the “Christmas Log.” That’s the polite name, at least. The Tio de Nadal is more commonly called “Caga Tió,” or “pooping log.” During the month of December, the hollow log is “fed” each night with sweets, nuts and candies. Then, on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, the log is beaten with sticks and made to “poop” out its presents. The last thing to come out of the log is something less tasty, like an onion, garlic or salt herring.

There are a bunch of different traditional songs that people sing while beating their Caga Tió. Here’s one, from Wikipedia:

caga tió,
caga torró,
avellanes i mató,
si no cagues bé
et daré un cop de bastó.
caga tió!”

This translates to:

poop log,
poop turrón,
hazelnuts and cottage cheese,
if you don’t poop well,
I’ll hit you with a stick,
poop log! Read more