Many people, in many languages, exchange this greeting. We wish each other good fortune and good health. In some countries or religions, the "new year" doesn't start on January first, but whenever it starts, a fresh year can be a new beginning.
It's a tradition for many in the United States to watch a certain holiday movie, a parade or a televised special with fireworks to start out the New Year. The giant shining ball has dropped at midnight in New York City's Times Square since 1907. People all over the world can witness the drop on their televisions or smart phones.
A kiss at midnight, a special toast, and singing "Auld Lang Syne" are other traditions frequently observed in our country. But how do other countries and cultures celebrate this important time?
In some cultures, round or circle-shaped foods, like oranges and small cakes, are eaten to symbolize long life and good health in the new year. Spanish people try to eat twelve grapes as the clock strikes midnight. Other "lucky food" includes rice for prosperity in India and Pakistan, apples dipped in honey for the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, and black-eyed peas in the American south.
Latin Americans who want to travel in the next year, will walk around the block on New Year's Eve with a suitcase. Others clean the house on New Year's Eve. The Greeks have special carols, and Danish people jump over the threshold into the new year. The Chinese have fireworks, lanterns and dragon parades. In Brazil, wearing white for the new year is thought to bring good fortune. The Dutch plunge into the freezing North Sea.
No matter what the tradition, every one seems to look ahead with optimism, hoping that the troubles of the old year will be washed or rung or swept away, while the future will bring something better.
Here's to a good new year!
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