New Year’s Traditions Around the World
These days, when the excitement of leaving a year full of adventures is felt in abundance, many people have already started preparations to have a better year. This particular night, where delicious menus, stylish tables, and different entertainment are organized, is celebrated worldwide, as in Turkey. New Year’s traditions differ from culture to culture. Here are the New Year traditions that will shed light on your New Year’s organizations…
In Brazil, another South American country, the new year is greeted with flowers. Brazilians flock to the ocean every year with white flowers in their hands. Throwing thousands of white flowers and candles into the ocean, Brazilians believe that in return for these elegant gifts, the Water Goddess Yemanja will fulfill their New Year’s wishes and bring them luck throughout the year.
According to another custom, Brazilians swimming in the sea at midnight on New Year’s Eve have to jump over seven waves (one per day). They have the right to make a wish for every wave they jump. Since Brazil is in the Southern Hemisphere, it should not be forgotten that the air temperatures are about 27C during New Year’s Eve!
The Spanish New Year tradition dates back to the late 19th century. Locals eat grapes with the bell ringing 12 times before the new year. Spaniards, who gather in their homes or the squares and throw a grape into their mouth every time they hear the bell, believe that if they manage to keep these grapes in their mouths without eating them until the clock strikes 12, luck will be on their side and they will find happiness. When the last bell rings, they celebrate the new year by drinking champagne, dancing, and singing. This custom is also common in Latin America and the Philippines.
Of course, New Year’s tables are a classic for every country. However, the New Year tradition of Bolivians also emerges with the food they prepare. In Bolivia, a South American country where 12 Grapes is a well-known tradition, luck coins are kept in the desserts ready for the New Year. It is believed that whoever gets these coins will have a lucky and good year.
In Italian culture, the color red is associated with fertility. For this reason, Italians prefer to wear red underwear on New Year’s Eve so that the new year will pass in abundance and plenty. It is also believed that this New Year’s Eve tradition, which has spread across the country and the world, will bring love in the New Year. However, in some parts of Italy, people think that throwing their old belongings out the window will get rid of bad energy and make a good start in the new year.
The Japanese New Year tradition is based on Buddhism beliefs. According to Japanese tradition, bells are rung simultaneously in all Buddhist temples for the New Year to bring cleansing and healing. Each bell sound, which is played 108 times, symbolizes sin in Buddhism. Welcoming the New Year in this way, the Japanese believe that their sins will be forgiven as well.
Before the clock strikes midnight, Russians write down all their wishes on a piece of paper. Then they burn this wish with the help of a candle and throw the ashes into a glass of champagne. Finally, they drink champagne before midnight, waiting for all their wishes to come true in the new year. Champagne is also associated with Christmas in other cultures, and the bubbles evoke a feeling of happiness and abundance.
Everyone hangs onions at the door of their house on New Year’s Eve in Greece. Believing that the onion symbolizes rebirth and growth, the Greeks wake up their children with onions on the morning of the New Year. At the same time, people also believe that awakening children will bring long life, health, abundance, and fertility to the household.
This tradition, which was started by pagans, who thought that the fast rooting onion got its regrowth power from the god Pan, continues to live after the conversion to Christianity.
The New Year has been celebrated in Turkey since 1926. To better understand the place of this tradition in our culture, it is helpful to take a little journey towards Turkish mythology. For Turks, the new year meant the celebration and renewal of the beginning of the year.
Visiting the pine tree, which was named the ‘Tree of Life’ because it does not shed its leaves in summer and winter, the Turks adorned the trees with rags and colorful ribbons to accept prayers in the new year. This tradition, which has survived from the ancient Turks to the present, continues to bring us together with our loved ones in the new year.
New Year Celebrations in Beyoğlu from Past to Present
Bright lights and decorated pine trees herald a handover ceremony. For better or worse, the past year is replaced by a brand new year full of luck and new hopes. Whether it’s festive celebrations or modest family dinners, New Year’s Eve always brings joyful celebrations to our minds. With the peace of leaving the old year behind with all its burdens, these celebrations have a history that can be considered new in our country. With its cosmopolitan structure, Beyoğlu, the cradle of cultures in Istanbul, the district where New Year celebrations spread to the society, is, therefore, one of the indispensable addresses of the New Year from past to present. If you wish, let’s take a journey together towards the traditional Beyoğlu New Year’s Eve celebrations, just a few days before the new year.
Ottoman Palace Meets New Year Celebrations
The New Year was celebrated in the Ottoman Empire as it was celebrated with enthusiasm in almost all of Europe. The celebration, which we can call the first, took place in 1829. Ottoman state officials also attended the New Year’s Eve ball organized by the British Ambassador on a ship in the Golden Horn. With this ball, the political leaders of the Ottoman Empire participated in a New Year’s Eve celebration for the first time, and afterwards told about it with praise to the sultan of the time Mahmud II.
A quarter of a century later, Sultan Abdülmecid was invited to a French Ambassador’s New Year’s Eve ball in 1856. Sultan Abdülmecid, who attended the invitation and watched the dancers, returned to the palace with great pleasure. The participation of Sultan Abdülmecid in this invitation made him the first sultan to celebrate the New Year in the western sense. This innovative step paved the way for the spread of New Year’s celebrations among the public. Now, Muslims have started to participate in the New Year celebrations of the non-Muslim people living in Beyoğlu.
New Year Festivals Begin in Beyoğlu
Although the state officials were late to the “party”, the residents of Beyoğlu were no strangers to New Year’s Eve entertainment. However, after the palace approved it, the new year was even more enthusiastic in Beyoğlu. In the 1870s, Galata and Beyoğlu became indispensable for the New Year’s Eve celebrations of the Istanbul Levantines. Westerners, who wanted to enter the New Year with fun, came to Beyoğlu. Of course, this entertainment rising from Beyoğlu also surrounded Cadde-i Kebir, which is today’s Istiklal Street. The places such as the Concordia theater in current St.Antuan’s place, Kristal, and Luxembourg Coffeehouse have started to be preferred for the unique entertainment they provided for the New Year.
A different development took place during the occupation days of Istanbul. With the arrival of the White Russians in Istanbul, entertainment and celebrations began to be organized all over the city. Energizing the nightlife of Beyoğlu with the restaurants and entertainment venues they opened, the White Russians also enlivened the New Year’s Eve celebrations. It was precisely at this time that the ships in the port started to herald the new year’s arrival with their horns.
Beyoğlu’s Entertainment Begins to Spread All Over the Country
With the proclamation of the republic, a radical change began to take place in the country. But, of course, Beyoğlu was also witnessing the first steps of the Young Republic. Pera Palace Hotel, which draws attention with its magnificent architecture, hosted Istanbul’s first New Year’s Ball in 1925. In the following years, Beyoğlu’s joyous New Year celebrations continued. According to the records, with the official holiday of January 1 in 1936, on New Year’s Day, clubs in Beyoğlu saw more customers in one night than they had seen in a year.
Millennium Welcomed with Street Party in Beyoğlu
By 2000, street parties, one of the most popular elements of popular culture, became the choice of New Year’s entertainment in our country. Like the world’s most famous metropolises, Istanbul entered the new year with street parties. Beyoğlu, the permanent celebration address of every period, has also become the center of the millennium celebrations. Istanbulites counting down in unison under the street lighting of Beyoğlu, which turned into a flood of lights, entered the new year with fireworks displays.
Beyoğlu’s Treasure for Inspiring Beginnings: Pera Palace Hotel
Pera Palace Hotel is one of the most beautiful buildings in Beyoğlu with its magnificent architecture. Nevertheless, this uniquely beautiful building is much more than a superb architectural work; it specializes in the stories it whispers. The hotel’s timeless texture is accompanied by the memories of famous guests in their rooms. If you want to take a completely different journey in pursuit of the spirit of the time, the Grand Pera Ballroom can fascinate you with its historical stories as well as its atmosphere. If you wish, let’s take a tour together at the magnificent balls of this hall, which hosts the most colorful memories of the recent past.
Hello to Istanbul Ball
Pera Palace Hotel has a fascinating story. With the eclectic style of Alexandre Vallaury’s architecture, Pera Palace is specially built for Orient Express passengers. Located in the Pera region, which is described as Little Europe, this rare artifact is, of course, introduced to Istanbul in a way worthy of its value. Pera Palace Hotel opened in 1895 with a magnificent ball that took its place in the pages of history. While the opening ball Orient Express brings its passengers together with luxury and comfort, it brings Istanbul to a hotel at European standards.
As the number of European visitors increased over time, the balls held at Pera Palace Hotel gradually became a status indicator. With the influence of the westernization movements, the palace circle, bureaucrats and diplomats showed great interest in these balls. However, Orient Express charters were suspended due to the First World War. Thus, there was a change in status for the guests of Pera Palace Hotel, which welcomed diplomats, writers, and symbols of intellectual life. Of course, this change also affected the balls held at the hotel. At the Pera Palace, the commanders of the Allies, not the old nobles, began to appear in the balls.
First New Year’s Ball at Pera Palace Hotel, Witness of the New Republic
After the proclamation of the republic, the modernization movements, which also affected social life, gained momentum. Many innovations are implemented one after the other to create a contemporary society. But only one of these innovations causes a grand celebration. When the calendars show 1925, the transition to the Gregorian calendar is accepted unanimously. Thus, Pera Palace Hotel hosts the first New Year’s Eve ball of the young republic, which it witnessed every moment of its establishment. With this first New Year’s Ball held on December 31, 1925, distinguished guests enthusiastically welcome the New Year. Thus, the New Year’s Eve tradition, one of the most colorful parts of modern life today, is accepted in society and begins to spread.
Pera Palace Hotel Continuing Its Ball Tradition
Pera Palace Hotel is preparing to say hello to the new year with an unforgettable New Year’s Eve celebration. You can experience the joy of the New Year to the fullest with a magnificent celebration that will take place in the magical atmosphere of the Grand Pera Ballroom. At Pera Palace Hotel, which has witnessed a century of history, you can greet the new year by dancing to the pleasant music of its orchestra. If you wish, you can enjoy the hospitality of Pera Palace Hotel in the new year by staying in rooms with a breathtaking view of Istanbul.