The U.S. starts the New Year the first of January, following the Gregorian Calendar, along with most European countries, Russia, Japan, and Thailand. Some other countries celebrate the Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year. China, Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia will all recognize the beginning of 2013 on January 23. Korea and Mongolia will not celebrate a new year until February.
Along with different dates come different cultural traditions. Below, take a trip around the world to discover how other countries bring luck, fortune, and love into the New Year.
The Lantern Festival marks the final day of the lunar New Year's celebration. Photo by rosipaw via Flickr.
Chinese New Year: This is the biggest and longest holiday in the Chinese community worldwide. Lasting about 15 days, the Lunar New Year is determined by the cycle of the moon. The Lunar Calendar is also closely tied to the 12-year cycle of animals in the Chinese Zodiac which makes 2013 the Year of the Snake. To prepare for the New Year it is traditional to partake to buy new clothes and get a haircut, clean the house to “sweep away ill fortune,” distribute hong bao -- red envelopes filled with money- and have a big meal with your family.
Puerto Rico: Throw a bucket of water out of your window or off the balcony to “clean out” the old year.
Spain: Eat 12 grapes, one each second in the last 12 seconds of the old year; if you finish you will have good luck for the entire year.
Central and South America: Yellow is the color of the New Year in these countries and it symbolizes gold. They ring in the New Year by buying yellow underwear and by the last stroke of midnight you have to have them on for a prosperous New Year. Choosing red underwear will bring the wearer love.
Chile: If you’re hoping to travel in the New Year you take your favorite suitcase and walk it around the block with it before midnight. Leaving a gold ring in your glass of champagne will bring you luck in the New Year.
Denmark: Here, just before midnight everyone stands on chairs and when the clock strikes 12 everyone jumps off. Leaping into the New Year is supposed banish bad spirits and bring good luck.
Bahamas: Junkanoo is a musical street parade and party. The word comes from a French word meaning “unknown” or “masked people.” Similar to Carnival, Junkanoo celebrates the New Year with African Dance, costumes, food, and music.
Philippines: Here, round items are considered good luck in the New Year. Filipino families pile tables with round fruits to symbolize prosperity and some even wear polka dots.