155. New Year Celebrations Around the World

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Different countries and cultures celebrate the new year in different ways. Many countries still follow the lunar calendar, meaning that their new year often starts in late January or in February. New Year celebrations for some countries (like China, Vietnam, and Korea) last not one day, but up to two weeks!

In the US, many people attend or throw New Year parties. They drink champagne, dance, and cheer at the stroke of midnight. Men kiss women who happen to stand under mistletoe. Fireworks, which in olden times scared away evil spirits, are very popular throughout the US, as they are throughout much of the world. US residents often make one or more New Year's resolutions, such as promising to quit smoking, lose weight, or stop drinking. Most of these resolutions last little longer than a month.

In the southern US, many people eat black-eyed peas for good luck in the new year. In Mexico and Venezuela, many people wear red or yellow underwear for good luck. In Brazil, residents wear white clothes for good luck, and in China, they wear red clothes and give children red envelopes with money in them. In Iran, people wear brand new clothes on the first day of the new year.

In Scotland, homeowners open the front door at midnight to let in the new year, and open the back door to let out the old year. In Switzerland, people kiss each other three times at midnight. In Spain, people eat 12 grapes—one per chime—as the clock chimes midnight. In Japan, they ring a bell 108 times to get rid of the 108 bad desires that people have. In Korea they ring a bell 33 times in honor of 33 ancient soldiers.

In Colombia, families make a rag doll called "Mr. Old Year." They dress it in old clothes and stuff it with things that the family doesn't want anymore. Then at midnight, they set the doll on fire, to rid themselves of all the bad things of the previous year.


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