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TALKING POINTS

5 Unusual New Year’s Traditions from Around the World

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• Different cultures have their own ways to celebrate the New Year.
• The Japanese like to catch the first sunrise; Turkish people smash pomegranates at home; Colombians run around with a suitcase; Argentineans eat beans; while the Balinese observe a day of silence.

 

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3, 2, 1…Welcome to 2021! The New Year is a time to celebrate and usher in good fortune, but there’s more than one way to do that. Around the world, different cultures have their own unique customs to mark the change of the calendar – here are some of the most fun and unusual ones.

1. Japan: The First Sunrise

The early bird catches the worm – and in this case, hatsuhinode, or the first sunrise of the year. In Japan, locals wake up before dawn on 1 January to gather on mountaintops, beaches, observatories…anywhere with an unobstructed view of the horizon. Legend has it that Toshigamisama, the god of New Year and harvest, arrives with the first ray of sunshine to bring happiness and luck. As dawn breaks, the Japanese would gaze at the sun while making New Year’s resolutions and praying for a healthy, happy year ahead.

2. Turkey: Smash a Pomegranate

No, the Turks don’t hate pomegranates. In fact, they love this red juicy fruit because it symbolises prosperity, abundance and health, which is why you can find pomegranate-inspired decorations in almost every Turkish household. On New Year’s Eve, it’s a tradition to smash the fruit on the doorstep as the clock strikes twelve to kick-start a fruitful year. Some don’t like to waste those good, tasty pomegranates, though; instead, they sprinkle salt in front of their homes as it’s also believed to bring good luck and peace.

3. Colombia: Pack and Run

The Colombians love travelling, so much so that they’ve made it a tradition to take a suitcase – even if it’s an empty one – for a run around the block at midnight on 31 December, which will guarantee a year filled with adventures and travels. Some even stuff their pockets with lentils and hold some cash in their hands, as it’s said to bring wealth in the coming years. There’s no harm in having a bigger travel budget, right?

4. Argentina: Eat Beans

For Argentineans, beans hold a special place in their New Year’s traditions. Not just because they’re a great source of protein and dietary fibre, but also because they’re believed to bring job security and even new career opportunities. The type of beans and how they’re cooked don’t matter – though Argentineans like to pair their bean dish with some pan dulce (sweet bread) – as long as they are eaten right before midnight on New Year’s Eve, then a year of success and good fortune is sure to follow.

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5. Bali: Silent Reflection

The days leading up to Nyepi (Balinese New Year, also known as the “Day of Silence”), which falls on 14 March this year, are filled with flamboyant celebrations; but when the actual New Year’s day arrives, the whole island comes to a standstill. It’s forbidden to work, go out or even turn on the lights on this sacred holiday. Instead, locals take this time to self-reflect and meditate at home. It’s an unusual practice compared to many other cultures’ vibrant customs and celebrations, but it’s certainly a great way to set the tone for a mindful year ahead.



How do you kick-start 2021? Here are 10 healthy habits to add to your list of New Year’s resolutions.
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