As the clock strikes midnight: New Year's celebration around the world

By Kristin Riegel

SwedenNew Year’s in Sweden is a time for friends, family, food, and drink. The night begins with a knytis, dinner which is similar to a potluck dinner in the States. With lots of appetizers and drinks for all, the celebrations begin.

After a long dinner filled with memories from the past year and hopes for the next, New Year’s resolutions, both comical and realistic, are made.

With a full stomach and an array of expectations for the New Year, Swedes engage in a series of toasts to friends, life, and happiness among other things. Following the wine and champagne, Swedes create new memories from old traditions by singing old Swedish drinking songs and drinking Schnapps until midnight.

“On New Year’s Eve, if you’re old you stay in and watch “Ring Klocka Ring” (a traditional Swedish poem) on television.” said Mirja Benkovic ’09. “If you’re young you run out onto your balcony or into the street with a glass of champagne to watch the fireworks.”

Bangladesh

Forget cold weather and watching the ball drop on television-Bangladesh celebrates New Year’s on April 14th with carnivals, family gatherings, and lots of food.

“Our traditional New Year’s is when people dress up in traditional clothes and celebrate,” said Munadir Aziz Ahmed ’10. “Men wear banjabi and women wear sarees. Everyone goes to carnivals in the day with friends and then spends the night with their families.”

Although April 14th is the traditional date of the New Year on the Bangla calendar, in recent years more and more people have begun to celebrate on December 31.

“How you spend New Year’s depends a lot on your age,” sad Ahmed. “If you’re in high school or younger you spend it with family. If you’re older you hang out with friends.”

With no New Year’s ball drop on television, many people in their twenties head out to restaurants and clubs, many of which offer contests and festivities. For people who are younger or looking for a more relaxed night, family gatherings have become a staple.

“Usually my entire family gathers together for dinner and dessert . . . then we watch movies, talk, and play cards. I usually don’t go out with my friends until later,” said Ahmed. “That’s when it really gets exciting.”

Ukraine

If you’re a New Year’s fanatic who can’t get enough of the fireworks and confetti then head to Ukraine to welcome in the new-year not once, but twice.

“We celebrate when it turns twelve in Moscow and in Kiev,” said Ira Postolovska ’10. “At midnight you get to make a wish for the new year and since we celebrate new year’s twice, we get to make two wishes.”

Although Kiev has a strong nightlife, most of the night, at least until midnight, is spent with family and friends. “New Year’s is more of a family celebration,” said Postolovska. “You all get together to eat and drink. At midnight you watch the President’s speech and drink champagne to celebrate.”

Following time with family, many people head out to clubs, bars, and restaurants to party until the sun rises on the first day of the new year. “It’s a good way to start the new year,” said Postolovska.

Turkey

What better way to begin a new year than with turkey in Turkey? That’s right, every New Year’s Eve family and friends gather together for a large dinner of turkey, rice with chestnuts, and delicious desserts.

However, with a little bit of improvising, a quaint dinner can turn into a great party. “This year I celebrated with my sister and friends,” said Burcu Sahin ’10. Leaving behind the 2008 celebrations, Sahin and friends took a trip back in time. “We celebrated as if it was 1978,” said Sahin. “We all dressed up in clothes from the seventies and danced to old and new music.”

In addition to the trip back in time, guests were given a specific personality characteristic, such as “forever happy” that they had to incorporate throughout the night. “It was good to see friends and have fun,” said Sahin. Although Sahin added her own twist to a New Year’s tradition, she still has fond memories of more traditional New Year’s Eves.

“At New Year’s families come together to eat and drink . . . after dinner everyone watches television programs with Turkish celebrities like Tarakan,” said Sahin. “After family celebrations, a lot of people go to the Common Square [in Istanbul] to celebrate together; it’s one big party.”

Argentina

New Year’s in Argentina revolves around two of the cornerstones of its culture-family and the Catholic Church. An affair that involves one’s extended family and close friends, the event is usually planned about a month in advance.

“We usually have dinner together, all of my family, about 40-50 people, at my uncle’s house,” said Federico Burlon ’10. “We chat, eat, drink, and tell jokes.” During New Year’s as well as most other major celebrations, mate, a drink consisting of loose tea leaves that you drink with a straw from a communal cup are enjoyed by all.

Around 10 p.m. the entire family heads to mass where they stay for a service which includes communion. Following the food and faith comes the celebration.

“After mass we go back to my uncle’s . . . the kids usually play with fireworks while the adults talk and sing,” said Burlon. With an emphasis on spending time with family, the television is rarely turned on. However, for people who aren’t close with their family, clubs and restaurants offer an array of activities and events.

“It is warm when we celebrate New Year’s so we can stay outside all night,” said Burlon. “Every year is different, it’s always unique, but you always have a good time.