The London Eye on New Year’s Eve by Clarence Ji
The New Year has arrived – happy 2018, everyone! If you were in London on New Year’s Eve, you probably saw the fireworks (either live or on the BBC). Whilst fireworks are very common nowadays, there are many traditions that differ from country to country. We have done some research, and put together this list of five of our favourite – and more unusual – New Year’s traditions.
Germany – Dinner for One
Nobody really knows why. Maybe because they secretly enjoy British humour. Maybe because it’s related to New Year’s Eve. Or maybe the line “The same procedure as every year, James!” simply stuck. But for some reason, on that particular night, many Germans love to watch the 1963 short film Dinner for One, which is a German production (in English) of a British theatre sketch. We really cannot explain why it became “the most frequently repeated TV programme ever”. All we can do is to admit that it’s quite funny, and hit play.
Scotland – First Footing
This tradition goes back much longer than 1963. In many places in Scotland, come Midnight people start to leave their house. Not to celebrate on the street, but to visit friends and neighbours in their homes to bring them good fortune for the next year. It is said that the first person to set foot into a house in the New Year brings good luck – and some food and drinks (usually whisky). Scottish friends have told us that around their home in Aberdeenshire, people go from house to house, staying a few minutes, engaging in a conversation over some shortbread and a dram, and then continuing on, sometimes into the early hours of dawn. That’s what we call a sociable tradition!
Japan – Ringing 108 Bells
The New Year is a new beginning. In Japan, this is celebrated with a ceremony called Joya no kane. According to Buddhist belief, there are 108 defilements of the human mind (Japanese call them Bonnō). Just before midnight on New Years Eve, temples all across Japan start to ring their bell 107 times. With the 108th strike - dead on midnight - all the 108 defilements are left behind in the old year. The New Year, and its new beginning can come!
Mexiko – Wearing colourful underwear
Some cultures associate certain colours with certain attributes and feelings. Some people also tell you to “dress the part”. Mexicans (and some other Central and South Americans) have taken this to heart. They believe that what you’ll get throughout the year will be influenced by the colour of the underwear you’re wearing on New Year’s Eve. Red knickers will bring you love, yellow wealth, and blue will bring health. So, what colour were your undies this year?
Denmark – Throwing Crockery
Many New Year’s traditions involve some way of making noise. While most use fireworks, many Danish use crockery (additionally to fireworks, of course). Over the course of the year, instead of throwing it away, they gather all the unwanted or chipped china. Then, on the night of New Year’s Eve, they go out and smash it on the front porches of their friends. The bigger the pile of broken crockery in front of your door, the more popular you are – which probably comes as comfort when clearing it up. Oh, and apparently, they watch Dinner for One as well.
Those were our five favourite odd and quirky New Year’s Eve traditions. We hope you enjoyed our list, and wish you luck, prosperity, and a very happy New Year 2018!
If you enjoy all things odd and quirky, check out our Quirky Tour. We’ll love to introduce you to the rare, eccentric, comical, and just plain quirky facts about London.