Thursday, December 30, 2010

Today's Trivia – New Year

Well, of course this week’s trivia is all about the New Year. What else were you expecting?


Let’s get to it...

New Year’s Day is the oldest known holiday celebrated by mankind. The Babylonians first observed it about 4000 years ago. They celebrated it in March around the beginning of spring and the festivities lasted for eleven days.

The people in China believe that there are evil spirits that roam the earth. So on New Year they burn crackers to scare the evil spirits. The doors and windows of every home in china can be seen sealed with paper. This is to keep the evil demons out.

In 153 B.C., the Roman senate voted to have January 1st to be the 1st day of the New Year, but the emperors kept messing with the calendar. When, in 46 B.C., Julius decreed the New Year to begin on January 1st, it meant that one year had to be 445 days long in order to get in synch with the sun.

In Brazil most people wear white clothes on New Year's Eve to bring good luck and peace for the year that will follow.

The Scottish tune Auld Lang Syne actually stands for “Old Long Ago”, written by Robert Burns. The song was not published until 1796 well after his death.

In Colombia, Cuba and Puerto Rico families stuff a life-size male doll with things that have bad memories or sadness associated with them, and then they dress it up in old clothes from each family member. At the stroke of midnight, this 'Mr. Old Year' is set on fire.

The New Year in Scotland is called Hogmanay. Barrels of tar are set afire and rolled down the village streets to symbolize that the old year is burned up, and the New Year is going to begin.

Late on the evening of December 31, people of Japan eat a bowl of buckwheat noodles called "toshikoshisoba" ("year-crossing noodles") and listen for the sound of the Buddhist temple bells, which are rung 108 times at midnight. The sound of these bells is said to purify the listeners of the 108 sins or evil passions that plague every human being.

The New Year in Swaziland is called “Newala”, for the harvest festival and fruits ceremony. The Ngwenuama (lion) King is believed to have supernatural powers and exemplify success and fruitfulness.

In Greece children leave their shoes by the fireside on New Year's Day (also the Festival of Saint Basil in Greece) with the hope that Saint Basil, who was famous for his kindness, will come and fill their shoes with gifts.

The Jewish New Year is called Rosh Hashanah. Followers review their past and vow to do better. Children are given new clothes and New Year loaves are baked to remind people of harvest time.

In Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, and Mexico, those with hopes of traveling in the New Year carry a suitcase around the house at midnight. Some even carry it around the block to ensure traveling at greater distances.

In Spain people eat 12 grapes as the clock strikes midnight (one each time the clock chimes) on New Year's Eve. This peculiar ritual originated in the twentieth century when freak weather conditions resulted in an unseasonable bumper harvest of grapes. Not able to decide what to do about so many grapes at Christmas time, the King of Spain and the grape growers came up with the idea of the New Year ritual. Spain also follows the custom of the three kings. Children put their shoes out on the windowsill or balcony so they may be blessed with toys and gifts from them.

Tradition of using a baby to signify the New Year was started by ancient Greeks around 600 B.C. They would carry a baby around in a basket to honor Dionysus, the God of Fertility and symbolize his annual rebirth.

And finally, the most common New Year’s resolution is to lose weight.


  1. As always, Martha, really interesting trivia. It's fascinating to read the traditions that people follow to bring good luck. I always try to make a dish called Hoppin' John---black-eyed peas with rice and bacon and collard greens. That is supposed to bring good luck. We didn't get to eat it last year since Benjamin was having his emergency surgery on New Year's Day, and we really did have a lot of bad luck this year! We will definitely be eating them this year, God willing. :-)

    Happy New Year (and many blessings) to you and your family!

  2. Thanks, Beth; I really enjoy putting this type of information together, and I have learned so many new things along the way, which has helped me in recent trivia games.

    That 'good luck' dish sounds delicious; my husband would love it simply for the bacon. I wish you and your family all the best for 2011. May it provide you all with nothing but blessings each and every day, and beyond. Looking forward to reading more great posts on your blog in the coming year.