As New Year’s Day dawns in the United Kingdom, people across the world have either greeted the start of 2013 or, across the Atlantic, are still waiting to celebrate. Celebrating the start of a new year is a common and ancient custom, even if mankind cannot entirely agree when the New Year starts and how to welcome it. This post looks at some of the more interesting traditions and superstitions surrounding the New Year.
For many people around the world, New Year’s Eve is a time for parties, drinking, fireworks and an expectant countdown of a clock ticking the seconds to midnight. As Sydney Harbour Bridge erupts in a dazzling rainbow of light, the chimes of Big Ben reverberate around Westminster and the ball drops in Times Square, millions if not billions of revellers will wish each other a happy new year, kiss someone close and maybe make resolutions to make their 2013 a better year. Fortunately for this blog, there are plenty of quirky traditions and superstitions that make New Year’s Eve a vaguely interesting celebration.
My absolute favourite tradition is a comparatively recent development. In Germany and Austria, several television stations broadcast a short comedy play. So far, so normal – many countries have TV shows that mark the New Year (Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve in the USA and Jools Holland’s Annual Hootenanny in the UK, for example). What makes this broadcast so special and curious is that it is a black and white British comedy sketch recorded and played in English. Dinner for One (or the 90th birthday) was written for the theatre in the 1920s, and filmed for a German audience by NDR in 1963 .