Around the globe, different cultures celebrate New Year’s Eve in diverse ways. Some are slightly bizarre, while others are startlingly similar. So, in the spirit of NYE, here’s a celebration of the world’s different NYE traditions.
In the States, New Year’s Eve is a night filled with fun and large public events. “Ball drops” are pretty common in the USA; a tradition, which sees a large ball descend as the countdown to the New Year begins. Inspired by “time balls” (an old time signal), the most famous of these descents takes place in New York’s Times Square. The 5,386 kg, 3.7-metre diameter ball is made from Waterford crystal and lowered down a pole that is 70 feet high. The spectacle has been immortalised in countless Hollywood films and is imprinted in popular consciousness throughout the world. Other famous ball drops include the “Peach Drop” in Atlanta.
In Italy, New Year’s Eve is also a spiritually significant day: the Notte di San Silvestro. On this night, Italians observe cultural rituals, which defy logic and rational understanding. For example, it is very common for Italians to wear red underwear on New Year’s Eve. At the end of the night, as the fireworks ring out and local church bells toll, traditional Italians will eat one spoonful of lentil stew for each ring of the bell. Participants believe the rituals will bring them good luck in the coming year.
Ecuadorian men are the inheritors of a truly unique cultural tradition: they must dress in drag, complete with bad makeup. In Ecuadorian culture, the year that has passed is seen as a type of ‘widow’. Adopting the look of the ‘widow’, young men take to the streets singing and dancing. The end result is a chaotic scene in which coins are given to the hairy-legged ‘widows’. But there’s also an endearing, family-based side to Ecuadorian celebrations: families create life-size effigies, which are burnt at the same time as the fireworks. The effigies represent all the things that were disliked by the makers that year, and the burning allows for a kind of spiritual death and rebirth.
In Australia, New Year’s Eve is celebrated nationwide. The biggest celebration takes place in Sydney, where a themed pyrotechnic show completely transforms the city. Taking advantage of the Harbour Bridge’s sensational sounds and sights is often combined in a synchronised show. As Sydney’s celebrations are among the earliest in the world, they are regularly broadcast globally on the day of December the 31st. Locals often take to the harbour’s waterways in order to gain a front row view of the proceedings.
Culturally, the day is all about entertainment, appreciation and renewal. An ideal experience to encapsulate all of this is the MV EPICURE I New Year’s Eve Harbour Cruise. Offering an elegant alternative to New Year’s Eve in town, the decadent harbour cruise serves its guests a sumptuous five-course dinner prepared on-board by catering experts. Along with beverages and live entertainment, visitors are also guaranteed unobstructed 360-degree harbour views.
Though our cultures may vary, it’s possible to see that our differences are rendered inconsequential. Every one of us commemorates the New Year to enjoy the bright potential and liberation it offers. So, Happy New Year’s Eve to one and all!