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The Resolution Worth Celebrating

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BRUNSWICK, OH- In the modern times of diversity, it is hard to name a holiday that is all-inclusive; a day that everyone can be apart of, no matter who they are. New Year’s Eve is the one day every year where the world comes together to reflect on the past year, and commemorate the next one. In spirit of this unity, it is worth noting how different places celebrate the same holiday.

In the United States, there are three distinct places that are known for their New Year’s festivities. The most well known is definitely Times Square in New York City. Nothing feels more like New Year’s than the iconic “ball drop,” Dick Godard’s Rockin New Year’s Eve, and cramming a million people into just a few blocks. Lesser known activities include watching the sparkling ball from a rooftop bar or restaurant, taking a boat ride on New York Harbor to watch the Liberty Island fireworks, or completing the Coney Island Polar Bear Club New Year’s Day Swim.

Moving down South, Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida creates a magical night for their guests. While it is less expensive to go to the parks during the holiday season, they are no less crowded; Disney World’s most popular day of the year is New Year’s Eve. Activities bring out entertainment and fantasy with shows such as Cirque Du Soleil, dance parties in the streets, and a special midnight fireworks display. And the world showcase pavilions in EPCOT have parties all day, to mark the time the New Year has arrived in the country they represent. With that being said, it is not surprising to learn that the parks fill to capacity.

BHS senior Jessica Balhoun experienced EPCOT on New Year’s when she traveled to Disney to perform with the Marching Blue Devils. She stated that “It was an amazing opportunity to learn how the day was spent in different cultures and also being able to know when it was midnight in multiple countries,” stated Balhoun.

Heading to Hawaii, New Year’s attractions involve island flare. The Big Island hosts a traditional macha pounding event. There, people learn to make rice from the pounding stage and listen to stories from the village elders. Waikiki Beach hosts a masquerade ball, and Aloha Tower hosts the largest party on all the islands. With great food, music artists, and fireworks, it is very much similar to mainland festivities, with a Polynesian twist.

“I spent years in Hawaii and the fireworks over the beach on New Year’s were amazing along the moon. It was absolutely gorgeous with the luau and dancing going on too,” stated BHS senior Antara Rath.

In the same way that Americans do, Europeans have special ways of ringing in the New Year as well. In London, there is the quintessential chiming of Big Ben at Midnight. Thousands gather in the area surrounding the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament, and the Shard to watch the light and fireworks show featured on those buildings. Some would say that New Year’s Day in London is the new New Year’s Eve, meaning more chic gatherings can be found the day after. And for those who do not enjoy partying, there is a family-friendly parade the next day, with a finale that includes all the Queen’s horses.

Moving West to Paris, no one can doubt the electric feeling that is brought to the city of lights on New Year’s Eve. The Champs-Elysées attracts millions of people, as it goes pedestrian only for the holiday. From drinking a spiced, hot wine, to munching on roasted chestnuts, to opening papillotes, chocolates that sound like fireworks, The French bring sophisticated fun to the evening. Of course, there are the fireworks over the Eiffel Tower, that melt the hearts of even the most seasoned travelers.

Moving Northwest to Berlin, Germans have traditions that interest a variety of people. Berlin is known for being the city of a yearlong party, so Germans show this off during New Year’s. Between the Brandenburg Gate and Victory Column, the “Party Mile,” is formed: It includes two miles of international food, lazer shows, D.J booths, and tents with various parties, hence the name. Some will opt for a pancake flipping race called Silvesterlauf, while others compete in the four kilometer New Year’s Run the following day. Germans also have a tradition involving lead and how it can predict the future.

BHS German exchange student Amelie Harm explains, “Some people will heat lead and then put it in water to let it harden. Then you guess what the shape of the lead means for your new year.”

Heading South to Africa, coincidentally South Africa, and there is a celebration that is exciting, but not as well known. Locals have the option of casual beach gatherings, dining in vineyards, viewing elegant rooftop parties, or simply enjoying the rich landscape: Lion’s Head, Table Mountain, and Kirstenbosch National Botanic Gardens are just a cable car ride away, and are used by nature lovers to watch the fireworks. However, the easygoing vibe of this country only goes so far; there is a custom in Johannesburg to throw outdated furniture or appliances out the window. It represents getting rid of the old, to make room for all the joys of the new year.

Moving back West again, Rio de Janiero in Brazil, can definitely throw a party. This was evident in the execution of this summer’s Olympic Games. Everyone gathers in all white attire to watch the 16 minute fireworks spectacular on Copacabana Beach. Candles are lit and people gather in shared spirituality. Flowers are thrown in the ocean to pay tribute to the sea goddess Iemanjá, and brave warriors will surf seven waves, one to bless each day of the week. The Museu de Arte Moderna and Sociedade Germânia in Gávea hosts lavish parties for high society, but the Lapa neighborhood is a welcoming host to anyone that comes around.

Heading all the way around the world, Australia is one of the first places to celebrate the New Year. Sydney is one of the most recognizable cities for various festivities, especially the fireworks. The Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbor light up with the largest firework display in the world: 50 illuminated boats grace the harbor, along with water effects and aerial acrobatics. Two shows run; one at 9 and  another at midnight, to allow young children to see experience the wonder before they go to bed. Finally, an Aboriginal smoking ceremony is customarily performed. It is said to cleanse life of evil spirits, and make way for a better year ahead.

Finally, while Bangkok, Thailand hosts the most unknown New Year’s Eve events, they do not lack in grandeur. This city actually hosts New Year’s celebrations three times each year; one for the Thai New Year in April, another for the worldwide New Year, and lastly for the Chinese New Year. Thousands attend the fireworks on the Chao Phraya river, and dance for hours along its banks. Beer gardens and nightclubs on Khao San Road host all kinds of parties, and live concerts appear all over the city. From boat cruises, to shopping in the Asiatique Market District, to enjoying views of the city on rooftop bistros, Bangkok becomes a fascinating city to revel in the New Year’s spirit.

And the same is true for the rest of the world. Every place has a special twist that makes the holiday unique to their culture. There are 195 countries and 7 continents in this world, and each place reserves one day for New Year’s. In a world that can be so divided, it is important to realize how united the world is on this day. That is what New Year’s Eve really is; a day for everyone to come together and hope for a better life. And that resolution, is worth celebrating.

 

 

 

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The student news site of Brunswick High School
The Resolution Worth Celebrating