By Josie Aja and Mackenzie Magas
Thousands stand in a giant crowd, squeezed in shoulder to shoulder, and listen as the city fills with the sounds of chants and a countdown that indicates the approaching New Year. As the clock strikes twelve, the ball drops from the tower and cheers erupt from the crowd, celebrating the beginning of a new year. Though this is the tradition that most of us associate with the holiday in the United States, the New Year is a holiday celebrated all over the world, and there are many other ways of celebrating the holiday that our very own Masuk students indulge in.
Senior Damonique Maragh said, “So typically, it starts off on New Year’s Eve and Jamaica is a very Christian country so the majority of people go to church and we spend the night at church until New Year’s Day.” Similar to how many American families celebrate the holiday, Maraph and her family celebrate by staying up until midnight and continuing the festivities through New Year’s Day. Maragh continued, “On New Year’s Day, we spend time with our families and eat foods like curried goat with rice and peas, chicken and ham. During the day we just go to the beach and spend time with our loved ones.”
Some other traditions practiced in Jamaica are setting off firecrackers. Making New Year’s resolutions and spending time with family. In Jamaica, it is also customary to clean before the New year and avoid letting laundry pile up. Starting off the year with a clean home sets up an organized and productive year.
Junior Karina Gams also explained German New Year’s traditions that she practices with her family.
Gams said, “One tradition we have is where we heat up lead and pour it into the water and then it hardens up, and then you look at the shape of the lead, and it kind of predicts what your year is going to be like.” This is a typical German custom practiced on New Year’s Eve called Bleigiessen which directly translates to “lead pouring”. Different shapes correspond to different prophecies such as an anchor which indicates that safety will have a priority during the upcoming year.
Gams also shared, “During New Year’s Day we usually just spend the day going from house to house visiting friends. For example, in my town, we go up to this big hill where we can look out and see the town below us and they shoot off fireworks as a celebration.”
In Germany, it is common to be wished a “Guten Rutsch”, which translates to “Have a good slide”. Many Germans use this phrase as a way of wishing someone a good ‘slide’ into the New Year. It is also customary for Germans to give one another a small gift that is said to bring the receiver luck in the New Year. Lucky charms in Germany include four-leaf clovers, horseshoes, red and white mushrooms and chimney sweeps.
Senior Shahad Faiz said, “My family is from Sri Lanka so both my parents were born and raised there and that has definitely had an influence on what we do for our New year’s tradition. One thing we eat together is karibath after midnight which directly translates to milk rice, so that is something you kind of eat as like a good luck charm of sorts”.
Faiz continued, “we also boil a pot of milk and wait till it kind of boils over so that is something I was really excited about growing up. There is a saying in Sinhala, which is one of the languages in Sri Lanka, that says ‘kiri paniyen ithirewa’ which basically means may milk and honey flow abundantly. So whenever we start something new like entering a new house or a new year we boil the milk until it flows out of the pot so you have prosperity in whatever you’re starting.”
In Sri Lanka, it is customary to spend time restoring physical surroundings. Households are repainted, floors are buffed and kitchens are cleaned, ready for the preparation of the Sri Lankan delicacy sweetmeats.
It may be difficult to believe that the same holiday can be celebrated in so many different ways. Some may spend their holiday lying on the beach, others writing a list of resolutions, eating traditional dishes, or spending time with family. No matter how you decide to spend your holiday, the New Year is a time to celebrate new beginnings and recognize the likeness between Masuk students and those around the world.