Happy New Year! Revelers worldwide welcome 2018

FIreworks, lit up 2018

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 31 and MONDAY, JANUARY 1: Happy New Year!

Champagne toasts, fireworks and rounds of “Auld Lang Syne” kick off the start of the Gregorian year worldwide, as the year 2018 is ushered in. In several world countries, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day means family gatherings, elaborate meals and plenty of parties. From the United States to Mexico, Ireland and Japan, time-honored traditions meet the latest global trends on New Year’s Eve In New York, celebrities and party-goers watch the famed “ball drop” in Times Square, counting the seconds as the 12,000-pound crystal ball lowers to ground level.

NEW YEAR’S EVE: FROM MEXICO TO RUSSIA

Strawberries dipped in white and gold sprinkles on white board with plate

Photo by Shari’s Berries, courtesy of Flickr

In many countries across the globe, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day traditions span centuries:

  • In Mexico, it is tradition to eat one grape with each chime of the clock’s bell at midnight, making a wish with each grape. A special sweetbread is baked for the holiday, and in homes across the country, red, yellow and green decorations are hung, in hopes of luck in the New Year in life, love, work and wealth.
  • In Korea, ancestors are paid tribute at the New Year
  • In Canada, the United States and the UK, Polar Bear Plunges have steadily been gaining popularity as a New Year’s Day custom.
  • In Russia, some blini is in order for a proper New Year’s party.

A BUDDHIST CELEBRATION: In Japan, New Year’s preparations begin weeks in advance, with pressed rice cakes prepared in a variety of flavors and often cooked with broth for a traditional New Year’s soup. At midnight on Dec. 31, Buddhist temples ring their bells 108 times, which is an auspicious number in Buddhist tradition. After midnight, many families head to a local temple to pray, and then feast together afterward.

MARY, WATCH NIGHT & KALANDA (CAROLS)

In some Christian churches, New Year’s Eve is a night of quiet reflection, prayer and thanksgiving. There’s a long-standing Methodist tradition called “Watch Night,” a custom started by Methodism’s founder John Wesley, and some Protestant groups follow similar traditions. In Greece and in Orthodox Christian communities, New Year’s is spent singing Kalanda—carols—and eating the vasilopita, or St. Basil’s, cake. On January 1, the octave of Christmas culminates in the feast of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

RECIPES, PARTY TIPS AND MORE

Get party tips for decorating and hosting at HGTV, Real Simple and Martha Stewart.

Find recipes at GeniusKitchen.com, Food and Wine, Rachael Ray and Food Network. For dish suggestions from the UK, check out the Telegraph.

Drink recipes are at Forbes.com and L.A. Times. Looking for a Mocktail? Delicious combinations are available from HGTV.

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Categories: BuddhistInternational ObservancesNational Observances

New Year: Ring in 2016 with global traditions and fresh perspectives

New Year's 2016 greeting

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 31 and FRIDAY, JANUARY 1: Happy New Year!

Fireworks, champagne toasts and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest kick off the start of the Gregorian year worldwide, as revelers usher in the year 2016. In several world countries, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day means family gatherings, elaborate meals and plenty of parties. From the United States to Mexico, Ireland and Japan, time-honored traditions meet the latest global trends on New Year’s Eve In New York, celebrities and party-goers watch the famed “ball drop” in Times Square, counting the seconds as the 12,000-pound crystal ball lowers to ground level.

NEW YEAR’S EVE: FROM MEXICO TO KOREA, RUSSIA & NEW YORK

New York at night with lights and confetti for New Year's, crowds

New Year’s Eve in New York’s Times Square. Photo by Anthony Quintano, courtesy of Flickr

For many, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day traditions span centuries. In Mexico, it is tradition to eat one grape with each chime of the clock’s bell at midnight, making a wish with each grape. A special sweetbread is baked for the holiday, and in homes across the country, red, yellow and green decorations are hung, in hopes of luck in the New Year in life, love, work and wealth. In Korea, ancestors are paid tribute at the New Year, and in Canada, the United States and the UK, Polar Bear Plunges have steadily been gaining popularity as a New Year’s Day custom. In Russia, some blini is in order for a proper New Year’s party. Tradition traces the thin pancakes back to ancient Slavs, and today, Russian blini may be stuffed with cheese or served in a variety of other ways. (Find a recipe and more at WallStreetJournal.com.)

From Times Square: Since 1907, the famous New York City “ball drop” has marked New Year’s Eve for millions in Times Square and for billions more through televised broadcasting of the event. Notable televised events began in 1956, with Guy Lombardo and his band broadcasting from the ballroom of New York’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel. During the tenure of Guy Lombardo, young dick Clark began to broadcast on ABC, and following Lombardo’s death in 1977, Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve soon became the hit of the nation. Dick Clark hosted the show for 33 years, and in 2015, Ryan Seacrest will host his 10th show, which is now called Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest.

Celebrity lineup: Confirmed for this year is headliner Carrie Underwood, who will be joined by Luke Bryan, Wiz Khalifa and Demi Lovato. One Direction will headline the Billboard Hollywood Party in Los Angeles, and singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett will make a live appearance from his concert at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. This year, the show will pack 38 performances into more than 5 hours of music, beginning on Thursday, Dec. 31 at 8/7 c on the ABC Television Network. (The show can also be viewed live online.) Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift is set to release the world premiere of her new music video, “Out of the Woods,” during ABC’s telecast.

WATCH NIGHT AND MARY: A CHRISTIAN NEW YEAR CELEBRATION

In some Christian churches, New Year’s Eve is a night of quiet reflection, prayer and thanksgiving. There’s a long-standing Methodist tradition called “Watch Night,” a custom started by Methodism’s founder John Wesley, and some Protestant groups follow similar traditions. In Greece and in Orthodox Christian communities, New Year’s is spent singing Kalanda—carols—and eating the vasilopita, or St. Basil’s, cake. On January 1, the octave of Christmas culminates in the feast of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

SHOGATSU: JAPANESE BUDDHIST SPECTACULAR

Two glasses filled with bubbly champagne against dark background

Photo by Bill Masson, courtesy of Flickr

In Japan, New Year’s preparations begin weeks in advance, with pressed rice cakes prepared in a variety of flavors and often cooked with broth for a traditional New Year’s soup. At midnight on Dec. 31, Buddhist temples ring their bells 108 times, which is an auspicious number in Buddhist tradition. After midnight, many families head to a local temple to pray, and then feast together afterward. The following morning, New Year’s greetings are exchanged and delicacies like sashimi and sushi are consumed.

PARTY PLANNING: RECIPES, HOSTING TIPS AND COCKTAILS

  • Drink recipes are at Forbes.com and L.A. Times. Looking for a Mocktail? Delicious combinations are available from HGTV.
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Categories: BuddhistChristianFaiths of East AsiaInternational Observances

New Year’s Eve / Watch Night: Ring in 2015 with a world of traditions

2014 in colored firework lights on black background

Photo courtesy of ChristmasStockImages

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 31: Champagne toasts, fireworks and rounds of “Auld Lang Syne” ring in the New Year across the globe, welcoming 2015. From the celebrities performing in New York at Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest, to families celebrating in their homes, all of us at ReadTheSpirit wish you a Happy 2015!

FROM MEXICO TO NEW YORK:
TRADITION & POP CULTURE

Champagne glasses with fireworks on black

Photo by Anton Diaz, courtesy of Flickr

In several world countries, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day bring gatherings of family and friends for elaborate meals, fireworks, drinks and parties. Many countries have also handed down traditions through the generations, such as a Mexican custom of eating one grape with each chime of the clock’s bell at midnight. With each grape, a wish is made. Homes in Mexico are decked out in representative colors, all with hopes for a better New Year: red for better luck in life and love, yellow for work, and green for wealth. Sweetbread is baked with a charm inside, and when the bread is served, the recipient of the charm in his slice is believed to be especially blessed for the New Year.

Since 1907, the famous New York City “ball drop” has marked New Year’s Eve and attracted crowds of spectators to the home of the 12-foot wide, nearly 12,000-pound Waterford crystal ball. Notable televised events began in 1956, with Guy Lombardo and his band broadcasting from the ballroom of New York’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel. During the tenure of Guy Lombardo, young Dick Clark began a broadcast on ABC, to rival the traditional big-band sounds of Lombardo. Following Lombardo’s death in 1977, focus shifted to Dick Clark, who hosted Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve for 33 years. Today, Ryan Seacrest continues to host the Dick Clark tradition on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Eve with Ryan Seacrest. Last year, Los Angeles began its own tradition of hosting a grand New Year’s Eve event in Grand Park. The public party drew more than 25,000 spectators, and is expected to continue each year.

ROCKIN’ EVE CELEBRITY LINEUP

This year, more than 1 million spectators are expected on the streets near Times Square for Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest. Confirmed to perform will be Taylor Swift, Idina Menzel, country-rocker Brantley Gilbert and Fergie. Elton John will be performing from Brooklyn, and Nick Jonas, One Direction and UK singer Ella Henderson will sing in Times Square. ABC will host the special, which will begin at 8 p.m. in Times Square, New York.

WATCH NIGHT:
A HISTORIC ALTERNATIVE

Watch Night became especially meaningful to African Americans when, on New Year’s Eve of 1862, slaves gathered to hear news about Abraham Lincoln’s plan to issue the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. The 150th anniversary of that historic declaration occurred two years ago in 2013, but many groups concerned about civil rights now are getting ready for sesquicentennial events marking the final adoption of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in December 1865. Speakers at some local Watch Night events will recall that entire sweep of history.

A quieter, thankful approach to New Year’s Eve has deep roots. Methodists observe “Watch Night” in a custom begun by Methodist founder John Wesley that involves giving thanks for the past year and expressing hopes for the New Year. Some other Protestant groups follow similar traditions. In the Roman Catholic Church, a vigil Mass has become popular on the evening of New Year’s Eve. (Wikipedia has details.)

Groups that prefer an alternative to alcohol-fueled parties also have adopted this practice.

New Year’s Eve party planning?

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Categories: ChristianInternational ObservancesNational Observances