Now we are about to ring in the New Year, it would be a great time to share the history of New Years global traditions with your young ones. Allowing your children to acknowledge traditions around the world gives them the opportunity to gain cultural awareness as well as develop a sense of global community. Many children know that in the United States, people gather in Times Square to watch the ball drop at midnight. Some of my greatest memories are of my children being able to stay up until midnight, or at least to try, to do the countdown.
Discuss your family traditions with your children and compare what they do to what others do around the world.
Did you know that in El Salvador, Mexico, and Spain, people eat 12 grapes to represent each month of the year to bring them good luck? People in Mexico also decorate their homes in certain colors depending on what they are wishing for in the upcoming year: red for love and overall improvement, green for finance, yellow encourages employment, and white for improved health.
In The Netherlands, bonfires made with Christmas trees are lit to get rid of the old and to welcome new beginnings. Also, explain that not every country celebrates the New Year on January first. Many of our friends in Asia celebrate their New Year sometime between January and February depending on the lunisolar calendar.
For Vietnamese families, midnight as a time of renewal. The families sweep their homes clean and decorate festively.
In China, on the other hand, the New Year is a time to welcome ancestors and gods back to Earth. During the Chinese New Year, red envelopes are given from older to younger, usually with money inside of them . Gifts are also exchanged and fireworks are lit to drive away evil spirits.
Jews celebrate the new year in September or October, starting with Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and ending with Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).
The new year for Buddhists starts in April with a three-day water festival. Large statues of Buddha spray water on crowds during parades and in smaller villages, younger people throw water at each other. Strings are tied around the wrists of those you respect and some end up wearing dozens of strings, which are to remain on their wrists until they naturally fall off.
Over time, Europeans have changed the date of the new year from June 21 (ancient Greeks), to March 1 (for pre-Cesarean Romans), to March 25 (during the Middle Ages–the Feast of Annunciation).
Whatever your tradition, we wish you a happy, healthy, and successful new year!