New Year’s Eve Facts: How The World Celebrates
December 30, 2008 in Factoids
That time of year is nearly upon us again. Yes, that special time when the clocks strike midnight and I start crying uncontrollably and start wishing that a rogue satellite would fall from the sky and hit me on the forehead and knock me unconscious until it was all over. Of course, I’m talking about the psychological dread that is New Year’s Eve.
Anyway – my pretend therapist told me to confront my fears, so I pretended to take her pretend advice and dug up some facts on how New Year’s Eve is celebrated across the world. Blame any inaccuracies on Wikipedia and not me. I can’t take it any more. Don’t look at me like that. Haven’t you seen a grown man cry before? Or a crying man groan? Yeah. Who knows where the time goes?
Australia: In Australia, a boomerang made from the shin-bone of an Aborigine is tossed into the air by the youngest member of the family and caught by either a dingo (especially hired for such an occasion) or the hairiest neighbour. In some cases in the Outback, the throwing of the New Year’s boomerang can take up to 15 days, either due to the distances involved or just plain laziness. The boomerang is usually marked with red paint to signify the death of the old year and the painful entrance of the new. Aborigine bones are used as a reference to the old British colonial days when it was often remarked by P.J. Chestershire (governor of Kookaburra Central) that “all the native Australians are useful for is marking the march of time with their dreadful innards”. He was later eaten by a lizard the size of a big car.
Brazil: It is custom for Brazilians to mark the New Year by murdering a chicken tied to a selection of fireworks especially created for the purpose. A firework is duct-taped to each leg of the chicken and let off simultaneously in the opposite direction. El Squawko Del Kentucki (literally – “the scream of the chicken”) officially marks the New Year.
Canada: In Canada every female over the age of 25 but under 5′ 5″ is bound by law to carry some coal in her underwear. This ancient custom is meant to bring heat into every house she visits and to protect against Canadian syphilis.
Denmark: The Danes celebrate New Year’s Eve (or nytårsaften) by shunning their families and talking only about boats for three whole hours (the fødselsdagen timings). They eat a large evening meal in silence, consisting of ten courses of fish and two of seaweed. The climax of the evening is when an effigy of Mary-Kate Olsen is lowered in front of Copenhagen City Hall, and is set upon by a specially selected series of retarded children wearing wolf-masks.
France: The French call New Year’s Eve la Tractorrio, which is Spanish for “a tractor”. It is usually celebrated with a great feast called le Réveillon de la Tractorrio (let’s all eat the big tractor). The meal usually consists of fried horse penises and pig eyes, and is washed down with a selection of warmed frog blood. The feast can either be a small, intimate affair or in some cases, gang-rape on the steps outside a public library. On le Jour de l’An Tractorrio (Tractor Leftover Day), the French normally exchange gifts or complex insults. The celebrations usually stop by mid-March and result in a widespread series of liver transplants (On le Jour de l’An Liver Please, Merci).
Germany: Germans call New Year’s Eve Silvester, after the cartoon character “Silvester The Cat”. Since 1957 all German television networks broadcast a short English theatrical performance called “Efficiency In Body Functions”, where a burly and naked man defecates on a dead rabbit while screaming in German “Where is the butter going?”. This has become a catchphrase in Germany, often at gunpoint. Every year Berlin hosts one of the largest New Year’s Eve (nerwhallendung) celebrations by letting off one of it’s secret stockpile of nuclear weapons. This event, the “putachenevaporatting” (evaporation of the silents), occurs at midnight as the masses count down the year to the flourish of a small mushroom cloud. Almost all Germans give each other mushroom soup the next day in a plastic bucket, and apologise to tourists about the wars until it gets embarrassing (die reddenfakken).
China: In China all the calendars are wrong and New Year’s Eve is celebrated at Easter if they’re lucky.
India: Indians celebrate the New Year by singing to cows about the prosperity of their forefathers. The cows are then taken indoors and given the cosiest bed in the house while the children wash their hooves in warm milk. Each cow then has a poem specially written for them by the town’s Mayor, which can take up to three weeks depending on the size or distinctive facial features of the herd.
Indonesia: Indonesian people celebrate New Year’s Eve by shouting at an enormous glass baby situated in the centre of Jakarta. As the countdown to the new year approaches, every man in Jakarta has to approach the glass baby and tap it gently with his knuckles. This often results in thousands of deaths due to crushing or severe knuckle infections. Fireworks are banned due to the magical qualities of sticks.
Ireland: The Irish celebrate the new year by capsizing a boatload of Englishmen in the Irish Sea. As the English try to make it to the shore, they are pelted with potatoes and herring. Traditionally, one Englishman is allowed to swim to safety, and he is hoisted by a series of pulleys and dragged to Dublin wearing only a small flannel and an orange hanging from his left ear. He is later given clothes made out of delicately woven Semtex and given a ticket back to fucking London, the English cunt.
Japan: In Japan, New Year’s Eve (or ?misoka) is a day of preparation for trousergami, the god of New Year. Traditionally, all Japanese clean their homes with toothbrushes handed down through generations and hang little ceramic bells from their genitals to promote fertility and good hearing in the forthcoming year. Buddhist temples ring their bells 108 times on midnight which really annoys the neighbours. On TV, the No Time Year Gone Show is a 50 year old tradition where two teams of four chubby teenagers try to outsmart an octopus wearing a black cap.
Lebanon: In Lebanon, only the men are allowed to celebrate New Year’s Eve. They gather around in perfect circles with ten members each, and spit grapefruit segments into each other’s mouths as a mark of respect. The women stay at home and watch a special New Year’s pot of water boil.
Mexico: Mexicans stab each other in the thighs with small, blunt knives with each of the thirteen chimes of the bell (the thirteenth being in honour of Jose Carreras, a famous but erratic clock mechanic who died in 1948 from disgust). On New Year’s Eve, those who want to find love in the new year fill their underwear with loose change and a note from their mother stating their general state of cleanliness. Other Mexican traditions include licking the kitchen floor (to bring forth edible meats), trapping a pigeon in a suitcase (as a symbol of good luck in future trips), or hanging sheep dolls on the doorknob (getting rid of rancid lamb).
Netherlands: New Year’s Eve is called Oud en Nieuw (“BJ and The Bear”) or simply oudejaarsavond (here, please take my socks) and is usually celebrated as a cosy evening with a transsexual prostitute and a Polaroid camera. Traditional snack foods are oliebollen (super-heroin dumplings) and appelbeignets (apples laced with cocaine and hashish). On television (the television), the main feature is a satirical review of the previous year by a racist dwarf. In reformed Protestant families, urine is gathered from uncircumcised babies and dropped into all the eyes of the family (dieyenbabenpissen) until they are ceremoniously blinded to all the fun around them for up to twelve hours. As a mark of respect, public transport is shut down completely until August.
New Zealand: Auckland is the first major city to see the beginning of the new year, and because of this Mordor is the first mountain to see the first sunrise of the new year. Elsewhere in New Zealand, elves and hobbits drink mead together and sing about battling orcs until Sir Ian McKellan gets out his cock and waves the revellers goodbye.
Peru: Peru celebrates a unique tradition by going to bed before midnight, only to awake during the twelfth chime with a start, and then hurries around the towns and cities tidying shit up and apologising to each other. Peruvians then look around for any alcohol close to hand, then, when not finding any, look at the ground and shuffle home to make some coffee and slap their foreheads while shaking the alarm clock in sorrow.
Philippines: Filipinos celebrate New Year’s Eve by creating an effigy of Madonna out of old rags and straw. At midnight, Madonna is set on fire to symbolise the days when she released some catchy tunes and had yet to resort to plundering Abba’s back catalogue in desperation. It is possible this tradition began after the release of the soundtrack to “Dick Tracy”, which left many Filipinos depressed and intellectually barren. Other traditions include burning an effigy of Chris Martin from Coldplay made entirely out of semen and damp copies of The New Yorker.
The Former Soviet Union: In the former Soviet Union, New Year has the same cultural significance as the Golden Globes have in the United States, but without the religious connotations. Russian, Ukrainian and other families from the former Soviet Union traditionally stalk reindeer through the streets using special woollen shoes and rubber spears. Most families erect a spruce tree at home, directly in front of the fire, which leads to a significant rise in deaths just after midnight. Surviving families gather to eat a large breakfast of dough and reflect upon the failure of the past year. They have a large celebration, make some burnt toast and swap headaches with each other by staring intently. Families give presents to their friends as well as Vladimir Putin – each year he receives almost three million Judo outfits and six million ties. New Year is often considered a “pre-celebration” for the Eastern Orthodox living in Eastern Europe, mainly due to a printing error.
Spain: Spanish New Year – Nochevieja, or Fin de Año (Falcon Crest) usually begins with a family dinner traditionally held in an unused swimming pool. Spanish people believe that painting their faces red on New Year’s Eve brings good luck and admiring glances from tourists. The countdown to the new year is followed from the clock on the top of the Casa de Correos (tiger monkey) building in Puerta del Sol square in Madrid (Madrid). It is traditional to eat seventeen squirrels during the twelve chimes of the clock. This tradition has its origins in 1809 when orange hunters were attacked by a flock of rabid squirrels while out singing in close harmony down at the beach. Nowadays, this tradition is followed by almost every Spaniard and a few Germans on holiday in a bar. The seventeen squirrels have become synonymous with the New Year. After the clock has finished striking twelve, people greet each other with bicycle chains and direct their smiles towards the closest tree.
Sweden: In Sweden, New Year’s Eve is celebrated alone in a cave. It’s pretty boring, really. There’s some fireworks, but they don’t spend a lot of money on them, and a lot of the champagne is flat. They’re probably a bit tired from making all the porn, I think.
Taiwan: Many people in Taiwan celebrate the New Year by jumping from the tallest building to their death. In Taipei, most people gather around Taipei 101, and watch as revellers are fired from cannons into the night sky. People gather around the base of Taipei 101 and together shout from 1 to 0 in honour of Richard Chamberlain, the “Father of binary”. There are also some fireworks, and a huge wooden effigy of Richard Chamberlain stalks the streets after midnight, picking up virgins in his huge mechanical hands and storing them in his oak-veneered stomach.
Turkey: Numerous decorations and customs traditionally associated with Christmas find a secular translation in Turkish New Year’s Eve celebrations. Instead of tree ornaments, chicken placentas are lit and draped over rubber plants. Small gifts or Amazon wish-lists are swapped, and large family dinners are organised at gunpoint. Television and radio channels are known to continually broadcast the greatest hits of The Captain and Tennille, while around the country, fund-raising events for the squeamish are held, in addition to celebratory events such as concerts and baby-rolling.
United Kingdom: In London, fireworks are set off from the forehead of the Queen as she sleeps in her golden bed. In Wales, pennies are inserted into the anuses of sheep to bring good luck to criminals in their forthcoming court-cases. In Scotland, a cannon is fired from Edinburgh Castle into the face of the nearest politician, just to keep the rest of them on edge – and in Northern Ireland, a ceremonial duck is hunted by children carrying clubs made from Lego.