How is New Year’s Day Celebrated Around the World?

Celebrating New Year’s Day is one of the oldest customs around the world. Ringing church bells, tooting horns and ear-piercing shrieks echo throughout the world on this holiday. Since this festival marks the beginning of the year, New Year’s Day is thought of as a perfect time for a “clean start”, so people worldwide resolve to act better in the year just beginning than in the year just ended. Many New Year’s traditions are similar, but some are different. Here are some interesting customs, past and present, around the world.

In the United States, New Year’s Day is observed on January 1st and, for many, it is a day of recovery from the New Year’s Eve celebrations the previous night. In some towns and cities, parades are held and special football games are played. The birth of the first baby in the New Year is often celebrated with gifts to his or her parents and appearances in local newspapers and on local news shows. Many people make New Year’s resolutions. These are usually promises to themselves that they will improve something in their own lives. Common New Year’s resolutions are to stop smoking or drinking alcohol, to lose weight, exercise more or to live a healthier lifestyle.

People in China celebrate this holiday for several weeks between January 17th. and February 19th., at the time of the new moon. The Chinese called this time of feasting and celebrations Yuan Tan. Lanterns illuminate the streets as the Chinese use thousands of lanterns “to light the way” for the New Year. The Chinese believe that evil spirits roam the earth at the New Year, so they let off firecrackers to scare off the spirits and seal their windows and doors with paper to keep the evil demons out.

In Scotland, the New Year is called Hogmanay. In many of the villages barrels of tar are set afire and then rolled down the streets. This ritual symbolizes that the old year is” burned up” and the new one is allowed to enter.

In Great Britain the custom of “first footing” is practiced. The first male visitor to the house, after midnight, is supposed to bring good luck. The man brings a gift of money, bread, or coal, to ensure the family will have plenty of these in the year to come. The first person must not be blond, red-haired, or a women, as these are supposed to be bad luck.

New Year’s Day is also the Festival of Saint Basil in Greece. Children leave their shoes by the fireside on New Year’s Day with the hope that Saint Basil, who was famous for his kindness, will come and fill their shoes with gifts.

The Jewish New Year is called Rosh Hashanah. It is a holy time when Jews recall the things they have done wrong in the past and then promise to do better in the future. Special services are held in the synagogues, children are given new clothes and bread loaves are baked to remind people of harvest time.

The Indian New Year’s Day begins with a festival of lights called Diwali. Cards and gifts are exchanged and people finish off any uncompleted work.

Iran’s New Year’s Day, which is in March, celebrates not only the beginning of the new year according to the solar calendar, but also bahar, “the beginning of spring.”

On New Year’s Day in Japan, everyone gets dressed in their new clothes and homes are decorated with pine branches and bamboo–symbols of long life.

The French New Year is “Jour des Etrennes”, or Day of New Year’s Presents. Dinner parties are held for the entire family, where presents are exchanged.

In other European countries such as Italy, Portugal and the Netherlands, families start the New Year by first attending church services. Afterwards, they visit friends and relatives. In Italy boys and girls receive gifts of money on New Year’s Day. Some very old and popular customs in Italian history include:

Throwing pots, pans, and clothes out of the window to let go of the past and move toward the future.

Light a Christmas log before New Year’s Day to turn away evil spirits (who don’t like fire) and invite the Virgin Mary to warm the newborn Jesus.

Wearing red underwear for good luck.

 

It is fun to entertain your friends and family on New Year’s Day. It is a day of new beginnings, a return to normalcy after the craziness of the holidays, and it holds all of the hope and possibilities for the coming year. To make things as simple as possible, I suggest a New Year’s Day Brunch as a low stress, comfortable way to celebrate with friends and family. Plan a casual and comfortable party filled with delicious breakfast type foods, that can be prepared ahead of time and heated before serving.

The breads can be baked several days ahead or even frozen. The quiches can be baked a day ahead and reheated in a moderate oven. Depending on the number of people you are entertaining, you may need to make double the amount of quiches.The fruit salad can be made a day ahead and chilled.

Brunch Menu:

Bloody Mary

Fresh Fruit Salad

Zucchini, Tomato, and Swiss Cheese Pie

Mushroom Bacon Potato Crust Quiche

Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffins

Maple Nut Scones

Pot of Coffee

Christmas Cookies

 

 

Bloody Marys

Serves: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 6 limes, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon celery seeds
  • 3 tablespoons grated fresh or prepared horseradish
  • 2 quarts tomato juice, chilled
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups vodka, chilled in the freezer
  • Celery stalks, for serving
  • Cucumber spears, for serving
  • Handful fresh parsley stalks, for garnish

Directions

Combine the lime juice, celery seed, and horseradish in a pitcher. Stir the mixture with the end of a wooden spoon to blend and break up the celery seeds. Pour in the tomato juice, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce; season with salt and pepper. Stir everything together to combine.

Divide the vodka among 6 tall, chilled glasses filled with ice. Fill the glasses with the bloody mary mix and stir well. Add celery, cucumber and parsley to each glass and serve.

 

Fresh Fruit Salad

8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cantaloupe melons cut into chunks
  • 1 honeydew melon cut into chunks
  • 3-4 kiwi, cut into slices
  • 1 bunch grapes, halved
  • 2 pineapple (cut into chunks)
  • 2 quarts strawberries (tops removed)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice

Combine fruit in large serving bowl. Drizzle in orange juice.

 

Zucchini, Tomato and Swiss Cheese Pie

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 3 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/4 pound grated Swiss or mozzarella cheese
  • 3 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375º F. Spread the 1 tablespoon butter on the bottom and sides of a 9 inch pie plate, then sprinkle the bread crumbs all over the sides and bottom. Allow whatever loose crumbs are left to just sit on the bottom.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and the onion. Sauté until translucent, then add the garlic and sauté for another 3 minutes.

Stir in the diced tomatoes and sauté another 5 minutes. Raise the heat to high. Mix in the zucchini, fennel seed, salt and pepper. Cook about 5 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and cool 5 minutes. (The recipe may be prepared in advance to this point and chilled up to 24 hours. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.)

Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Stir in the milk, then mix in the zucchini mixture. Pour half into the prepared pie plate, top with the Swiss cheese, then pour on the remaining vegetable mixture. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese all over the top.

Bake 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean and the top is golden brown. Let sit 10 minutes before cutting.

Mushroom Bacon Potato Crust Quiche

CRUST

  • 1/2 cup grated onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 1/4 cup unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/2 pounds Idaho potatoes, peeled
  • Olive oil for brushing crust

FILLING

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups (1 large) leek, sliced, washed, and drained
  • 4 cups sliced mushrooms
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup grated Fontina or Swiss cheese
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 5-6 slices Canadian bacon or ham

 Directions:

Preheat oven to 450°F. Grease a 9- or 10-inch deep-dish pie pan.

Set up a strainer over a bowl.

Grate the onions into the strainer and drain for 10 minutes, pressing out the extra liquid.

When the onions are drained, transfer them to a bowl and combine them with the salt, thyme and flour.

Grate the potatoes into the strainer. Press out any extra liquid, then combine with the onion mixture, mixing to combine.

Pat the mixture into the prepared pan bottom and up the sides.

After 25 minutes, brush the potatoes with oil, then bake for 15 minutes more, until the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and turn the oven temperature to 350°F.

While the crust is baking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the leeks and mushrooms and cook until the leeks are wilted, and the mushrooms give up their liquid. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cover the baked crust bottom with Canadian bacon. Spread the vegetables over the bacon and sprinkle the cheese evenly on top.

Whisk the eggs, milk and Worcestershire together, and pour slowly over the vegetables. Return the quiche to the oven and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, until the center is set. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve warm.

 

Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 2/3 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas (about 3 medium)
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup fat-free (skim) milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Heat oven to 375°F. Spray bottoms only of 12 regular-size muffin cups with cooking spray, or line with paper baking cups.

In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

In medium bowl, beat bananas, egg substitute, oil, milk and vanilla with a fork until smooth. Stir into flour mixture just until flour is moistened. Gently stir in chocolate chips. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.

Bake 20 to 24 minutes or until light golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Immediately remove muffins from pan to cooling rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

maplenutscones

Maple Nut Scones

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Topping

  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup quick cooking oats

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Grease a large baking sheet or cover it with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Use a pastry knife to cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is coarse and uniform. Stir in the pecans and oats.

Form a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the syrup, milk, and extract. Stir to combine then remove to a floured counter and knead until uniform. (Do not over-knead. Too much kneading will develop the gluten in the flour and make the scone tough.)

Divide the dough into two pieces and press each into 3/4 inch thick circles. Cut each circle into six wedges and place them on the prepared baking sheet.

Mix the 1/4 cup oats and the 1/4 cup brown sugar together. Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter and brush on the scone wedges. Drizzle maple syrup over the wedges and sprinkle on the oat and brown sugar mixture. Let bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned. Remove to a rack to cool.

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