New Year All Over the World
By Correspondent Anna Kandula in Southall, United Kingdom.
New Year is one of a few — if not the only one — holidays that is truly international and celebrated all over the world.
I grew up in Poland and am old enough to remember the old Poland behind the Iron Curtain, and young enough to see the transformation and the new Poland after the division of Europe to East and West started disappearing.
In the ‘80s most of the Poles celebrated New Year’s Eve in similar way — at parties. Some invited their friends and family to their homes, put on music, danced, had dinners or snacks, drank loads of alcohol (we’re speaking about Poland here, remember?), and counted down to the new year. Then they often left their homes, or went to balconies or windows to watch fireworks. Some bought fireworks and made their own shows in streets and common backyards of blocks of flats. More wealthy people went to parties in fancy restaurants, but the scenario was almost identical: dancing, eating, drinking and fireworks.
These days lots of people — especially the younger generations — prefer to welcome a new year outdoors. Parties are no longer the only solution. Bigger cities and towns organise music concerts with popular bands and singers that conclude with the final countdown to the new year and fireworks.
After I’d left Poland and moved to Hong Kong, I faced two New Year celebrations. Western New Year is very similar to what Europe does — fireworks in the central district of the city for the locals and tourists, and parties in restaurants, but the feeling is different, maybe because the Chinese are a bit indifferent toward Western New Year. What they look forward to is Chinese New Year, usually end of January or early February. It’s a wonderful, four-day holiday, which could be compared to Western Christmas celebration: family gathered together over a dinner, they eat traditional dishes, at midnight they go to flower markets, which are organised for those days only. And let’s not forget about Chinese New Year decorations! Until today, Chinese New Year is my favourite holiday from all cultures I had pleasure to experience.
Now I live in London, England, and it was my first New Year here. Like in Poland and in Hong Kong, the city organised a huge display of impressive fireworks. Tourists and locals gathered together near Thames to watch a display of fireworks shot out of the famous London Eye to the rhythm of music.
There are both similarities and diversity in how people welcome a new year in different countries. It’s really worth to travel and experience them in different cultures.
Anna was born in Poland, but she is a Hongkonger at heart. She’s a professional translator and an amateur writer and artist. She loves cooking and reading — especially suspense and sci-fi books. She’s a Star Trek and general sci-fi fan. She lives in London with her two cats.