New Year’s Day traditionally embodies sentiments of hope and lauds the coming year’s abundance of opportunities. While these uplifting themes prove universal throughout most languages and cultures, the medium of celebration varies from nation to nation. In 2018’s final edition of The StickerTalk, our blog surveys the assorted array of international customs and curiosities surrounding the cross cultural motif of January 1.
- Farmers in Romania traditionally wish each of their animals an individual greeting of “Happy New Year!” as Romanian legend states that January 1 is the only day of the year that animals can verbally communicate with their masters. However, if an agrarian is able to understand one of their animals, bad luck is said to await them in the new year.
- Professional divers in Russia annually plunge into the icy depths of various bodies of water to plant a tree underwater on New Year’s Day. Clad in festive attire, strong swimmers in the Shchitovaya Bay retire a Christmas tree to the bottom of the lake, ceremoniously performing dances and enjoying a champagne sipping charade after their charge has been deposited in its near-freezing new home. Similar celebrations occur under the waves of the Lena River and under the already frozen surface of Lake Baikal.
- An Irish New Year combines the sentimental with the seemingly senseless. Families in Ireland honor loved ones lost during the previous year by setting places for them at the dinner table with corresponding vacant seats. Some families also leave the door unlocked to allow the easy passage of their late friends and relatives into the house. Another Irish tradition observed on January 1 involves the beating of bread against the walls of an abode. According to folklore, this delicious din will drive away evil spirits, ensuring good luck in the coming year.