How is the New Year celebrated in your culture?
Saturday 28 December 2013
In Japan, New Year's Eve itself is called oh-misoka, and is a day to spend quietly at home for most people. It is not a day for fireworks at all in Japan (fireworks are reserved for summertime). You reflect on the old year, watch some year-ending entertainment programmes on TV such as Kohaku Uta Gassen (a long-running singing contest show), and perhaps go to the local temple at midnight, while hearing the 108 rings of the bell to ring away the evils of the old year. People looking for a party on New Year's Eve are often disappointed.
In Germany: we go to parties at friends, or sometimes to organised parties. They start in the early evening of 31 December. Practical joke devices are very common on New Year's Eve. It is also a NYE habit to watch the old British comedy sketch Dinner for One on TV. When midnight approaches, we count the seconds, and then we drink a glass of champagne with the salute "Prost Neujahr" ("Happy New Year"), hugging each other. Then we rush out to the street and start fireworks (private fireworks are legal in Germany only on that night). Afterwards, the party goes on. New Year's Day is a holiday and used mainly for sleeping and curing the hangover.
Philippines: the first thing that comes to mind is paputok, or fireworks. Although the tradition has been banned in my part of the Philippines, mostly due to the annual increase in hospital attendance. There are still those itchy idle hands who seem to find ways to procure these volatile substances though.
As an alternative to fireworks, other households prefer to blast loud speakers, or any apparatus with the capability of noise, to the full.
There's also the great typical Philippine noche buena that stretches out from Christmas. There will be an abundance of food and drinks, no doubt about that. And because Philippines is a devout Christian country, most of its people usually spend an awful lot of time in cathedrals even during the early hours of the day.
In Australia we celebrate by increasing the workload of fireworks companies, supermarkets, bottle shops, taxis, ambulances, hospitals, drug dealers, police, pubs and nightclubs, hospitals nine months later, condom sellers etc, and finally cleaners across the land who pick up all sorts of crap and scrape up vomit the following morning. Such a beautiful celebration of the coming year.
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