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Red Underwear and New Year's Eve
The midnight of December the 31st represents the symbolic passage from the old year into the new one. There are many different traditions to accompany this passage from old to new.
Both in Italy and the UK new year’s eve is celebrated with a lavish party and fireworks. Italians usually gather together for a big meal where lentils, cooked pork sausages and pig's trotter are served after the midnight as a wish of prosperity and abundance for the new year. It is also traditional to wear red panties. Millions of Euros are spent every year to buy new underwear, especially red, to be worn on the last night of the year, and one billion Euros is spent in lentils, sausages, gammon, turkey and dried fruit. According to the experts of traditions, mythology, symbolism and folklore, the traditions associated with New Year's Eve in Europe are deep rooted and have survived longer because they are related to the second Summer solstice, the darkest time of the year, when the cycle of the Sun starts again and will bring new products of the earth.
The tradition is also that one must wear a new item of clothes, an old one and something coloured red. The colour red has a symbolic value, linked to the fire, and also to the cycle of the sun which begins on December the 31st.
The new year is always welcomed with fireworks and much noise at midnight and a toast to the new year, as in many parts of the world.
New Year's Day is a public holiday also in the United Kingdom. However, there are some special customs, particularly in Scotland.
In Scotland, but also in Britain, many people sing the song “Auld Lang Syne” at midnight as the New Year begins. In Scotland and northern England, traditionally on the stroke of midnight, people open the back door (to let the old year out) and ask the first dark haired man to be seen to come through the front door carrying salt, coal and bread. This means that the following year everyone in the house will have enough to eat (bread), enough money (salt) and be warm enough (coal).
In Scotland the celebration of New Year's Eve is called “Hogmanay”. The word Hogmanay comes from a kind of oat cake that was traditionally given to children on New Year's Eve. In Edinburgh the celebrations always include a massive party in the city centre.
Shortbread is always eaten at Hogmanay and sometimes
served with cheese and whisky.
People in Wales also believe that you should pay off all debts before the New Year begins. Tradition states that ending a year in debt means a whole new year of debt.
New Year's Day is called “Dydd Calan” in Wales, and children get up early to visit their neighbours and sing songs. They are given coins, mince pies, apples and other sweets for singing. This goes on until midday.