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Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Europe

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Austria – When midnight arrives in Vienna, Austria all radio and TV programs which are operated by ORF broadcast the sound of the Pummerin (the bell of St. Stephen’s Cathedral) and right afterward the “Donauwalzer” (The Blue Danube) to which many people dance at parties or on the street..People gather on the streets of Vienna, where the government organizes a show consisted of bands and orchestras. Fireworks are set off by the people or the municipal government.

Belgium – Belgians hold New Year’s celebration in all large cities on January 1st. They are followed by fireworks displays.

Czechoslovakia – The Czech people gather to celebrate with family and friends. In larger cities like Prague the sounds of fireworks start in full daylight and steadily rise in frequency until midnight. All major TV stations broadcast entertaining shows before and after midnight. Just before midnight begins the countdown and at the midnight hour the national anthem is played and the president gives his speech.

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Denmark – The Danes celebrate at home or at parties with lots of merrymaking and fun. One custom is to save old dishes all year round and then throw them at friend’s or neighbor’s doors on New Year’s Eve. Many broken dishes are a symbol of having many friends. Two significant events are broadcast on TV and radio – the New Year’s message from Amalienborg Palace at 6 PM and the Town Hall Clock in Copenhagen striking midnight where thousands of people gather at Radhuspladsen and cheer. Fireworks are displayed and one can see the parade of the Royal Guard in their red gala uniforms.

France – In France New Year’s Eve is called “la Saint-Sylvester” and is celebrated with a feast which is called “le Reveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre”. This feast traditionally includes special dishes such as foie gras, seafood such as oysters and drinks like champagne. On this day, the people wish each other a good year, kisses and wishes the main ones being “Bonne Annee”, Bonheur, Sante, Amour, Argent (“Good Year”, Happiness, Health, Love and Money). Some people eat desserts made of ice cream. This holiday period ends on January 6th (The Twelfth Night) when the French celebrate the Wise Men eating a traditional type of flat pastry cake, most often two sheets of puff pastry filled with almond paste. This cake includes a feve, a small china character that whoever finds it becomes a king or queen and gets to wear a gold paper crown and then chooses their partner.


Germany – In Germany since 1972 each New Year’s Eve several German TV stations broadcast a short English theatrical performance “Dinner for One”. This comedy sketch includes a punch line “same procedure as every year” and this has become a catch phrase in Germany. Every year Britain hosts one of the largest New Year’s Eve celebrations in all Europe at the Brandenburg Gate. Germans have a love of fireworks and each year there are many firework displays to be seen all over the country. When the clock strikes midnight Germans toast the New Year with a glass of Sekt (German sparkling wine) or champagne. Another German custom is Bleigiesen which involves telling fortunes by the shapes made by molten lead dropped into cold water.

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England – The British welcome the New Year with the chimes of Big Ben in London. The clock chimes the arrival of the New Year thirteen times. Over the last few years, the BBC has broadcast the celebrations from London. In 2010 more than 20,000 people across the UK gathered to watch the fireworks display above the London Eye.

Wales – Welsh celebrations are known as Calennig. There is an ancient custom which survives to give gifts and money on New Year’s Day however nowadays it is more customary to give bread and cheese. Many people go to the Cardiff City Center where they can enjoy live music, catering, ice-skating, funfairs and fireworks. Many of the celebrations take place at Cardiff Castle and Cardiff City Hall.

In Wales in Mountain Ash in the Cynon Valley every New Year’s Eve an annual 5-kilometer running road race called the Nos Galan Road Race is held. This race celebrates the life and achievements of Welsh runner Guto Nyth Bran and was founded in 1958 by local runner Bernard Balwin. The race is run over the 5-kilometer route of Bran’s first competitive race. The main race starts with a church service at Llanwynno and afterward a wreath is laid on Bran’s grave in the Llanwynno graveyard. Then a lighted torch is carried to the nearby town of Mountain Ash where the main race takes place. The race consists of a double-circuit of the town center, starting on Henry Street and ending on Oxford Street by the statue of Bran. At one time the race was timed to end at midnight but now has become a day of family entertainment and ends at about 9 PM. The afternoon starts with street entertainment and fun races for children.

Scotland – For the Scottish people the New Year is Hogmanay and is celebrated with such customs as First Footing when a friend or family members go to each other’s houses with a gift of whiskey and sometimes a lump of coal. One of the world’s most famous New Year’s celebrations occurs in Edinburgh with a major street party along Princes Street. At the stroke of midnight, the cannon is fired at Edinburgh Castle and is followed by a fireworks display. The city of Edinburgh hosts a 4 to 5-day festival starting from the 28th til New Year’s Day or January 2nd. BBC Scotland broadcasts the celebrations.

Iceland – In Icelandic Gleoilegt nytt is Happy New Year. The biggest New Year events are usually held in the greater Reykjavik area. In Iceland, fireworks are very popular. In several places throughout the country bonfires are set and often accompanied by shows, musical events and sometimes food tables.

Ireland – In Ireland New Year’s Eve celebrations are small. At the beginning of 2008, it was heralded in only by the ringing of church bells. A lot of Irish people go to the smaller towns and villages to celebrate the New Year. Some popular destinations for festivities include Kerry, Limerick, and Galway.

Italy – In Italy New Year ‘s Eve is called Capodanno (the head of the year) or Notte di San Silvestro (the night of St. Silvestro). Some traditional rituals include wearing red underwear and getting rid of old or unused item by dropping them out of a window, however, this is an old tradition and is not done today. The Italians eat their dinner with family and friends. Dinner often includes zampone or cotechino (a kind of spiced Italian sausage) and lentils. The President of Italy makes a speech at half past eight and at midnight fireworks are displayed across Italy.

These are just some European countries. Hope you all have a Happy 2018 Year!


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