At long last, 2020 is wrapping up, and a New Year full of hope is just around the corner.
This feels like the kind of year you’d toast the year past as early as possible, then call it a night, hoping when you wake up in the New Year, we will have turned the page on the disappointments, challenges, cancelled travels and special events missed during the past year.
No need to wait for the clock at home to strike midnight on December 31st. The global pandemic means that this year more than ever, countdowns have gone virtual, giving you several opportunities throughout the day to enjoy other cities’ New Year’s celebrations and kiss 2020 goodbye.
Dropping the Ball in New York
For many in North America, NYC’s glittering, Swarovski New Year’s Eve Ball drop is the definitive countdown and hallmark of the New Year. The tradition dates back a century to a ban on fireworks in New York City, and is now immortalized in popular culture with a televised show and one of the biggest crowds of the night. Usually, millions watch on TV, and billions also watch around the world as a million people fill Times Square to join together in bidding farewell to the departing year and celebrate collective hope for the year ahead.
This year, organizers are live streaming the Times Square Ball drop at the stroke of 12 to capture the same spirit in an online global community.
Futuristic Neon in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is 13 hours ahead of Eastern Time in North America, meaning you could be drinking mimosas for brunch in Florida, New York or Toronto on December 31st as the New Year strikes in Hong Kong.
(Above and top renderings courtesy of Hong Kong Tourism Board)
For the first time ever, the pandemic is sending Hong Kong’s New Year Countdown Celebrations online. To share its world-famous neon artistry against ultra modern architecture framing historic Victoria Harbour and its belief in a hopeful and resilient future, the Hong Kong Tourism Board is showing a live countdown clock on its website beginning at 11 pm local time. As the clock strikes midnight, video featuring the glorious illuminations above Victoria Harbour and other landmarks, plus greetings and blessings to the world, will play.
Fireworks and Laser Show in Dubai
Midnight in Dubai on December 31st is 3 pm that afternoon Eastern time, easily justifying popping a champagne cork for the live streaming of one of the world’s most spectacular New Year’s celebrations: fireworks and a laser show at one of the architectural marvels of the Middle East.
Already breathtaking at 2722 feet, the Burj Khalifa is even more wondrous on New Year’s Eve. People are also welcome to share 35-character New Year’s wishes to display on the world’s tallest building during the show by sending a message to Burj Khalifa’s social media accounts using the hashtag #BurjWishes2021.
Ringing in the New Year – Old School
Maybe the Year of COVID is the year to revert to ushering in the New Year using traditions that pre-date fireworks, laser, or ball-dropping extravaganzas.
For centuries, cultures around the world have developed traditions to bring health, happiness, hope, and good fortune to celebrants – and we need those blessings now more than ever.
Here are some of our favorite ways to start the New Year right, and you can do them all while in the safety of the self-isolation at home we’ve been asked to observe this holiday season.
Eating Grapes - Spain
It’s simple and delicious. Spaniards ring in the New Year by consuming a grape for every chime of the clock at midnight. Those 12 grapes also happen to correspond to the upcoming 12 months, bringing good luck for the entire year ahead. Wine makers are said to be at the root of this tasty tradition.
Ringing in the New Year - Japan
Buddhists try to avoid the 108 earthly temptations on earth to achieve nirvana. So on the last day of the year, Japanese go to their local temple – many at the peaks of mountains of this volcanic nation – to ring the temple bell. Monks ring the bell all 108 times, and members of the public file past the bell, ringing it once to cast away bad deeds and bad fortune to be pure and receptive to all things good in the year to come.
Welcoming a Guest in Scotland
After religious Christmas was suppressed in Scotland, New Year’s – or Hogmanay - became the Scots’ primary winter celebration to banish the dark months, and welcome new light, warmth, and wellness. In addition to the lighting of bonfires and toasts of whisky, Hogmanay’s signature tradition includes ‘first footing’.
The first person to cross your threshold in the New Year brings you good luck for the year ahead. For a culture fearful of marauding blond and red-haired Vikings, a dark-haired man was the best luck for a ‘first footer’. Even someone already in your home can exit to come back in as a first-footer, bearing salt ‘for the tears every life brings’, bread or shortbread ‘to soak up your tears’, or coal ‘to warm your hearth’.
Luggage to go in Columbia
This South American country may be home to our favorite of all the world’s New Years traditions. To bring prosperity and good fortune, Columbians carry money and lentils, both symbols of wealth and luck, with them on New Year’s. That’s easily understood. It’s another tradition – picking up empty suitcases at midnight and running around the block to help a year full of travel to materialize – that gets us really excited, especially for 2021.
Wishing you a happy and healthy year of good fortune and inspiring travels!
Image credits as noted above.
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