In the medieval period, Europeans celebrated New Year on December 25th along with the Christmas. But in 1582, Pope Gregory III ordered adoption of Gregorian calendar and January 1 was officially adopted as New Year's Day. Since then this day is celebrated with mirth and excitement. New Year in Europe is greeted with special songs and gifts.
Traditions and customs make a splendid New Year celebration. In Europe, these traditions are followed from the medieval period. People practice these traditions earnestly and devotionally. Some of the most important traditions are briefed below:
Tradition of First-Footing
A very old tradition of 'first-footing' is practiced very seriously in Europe till date. When the clock strikes at midnight, a male stranger must be the first person to enter the house. It is supposed to bring good luck and prosperity for the family. The visitor must bring with him lump of coal, bread and some salt. These visitors traditionally greet the family members saying "Lang may your lum reek" (Long may your chimney smoke). There is also an old tradition of gift-giving in Europe. It is considered the best way to give warm New Year blessings and wishes.
Tradition to Make Noise
In Europe, people follow a custom of making noise to welcome the New Year. New Year parties are a noisy affair in Europe. This is done to scare off all the bad spirits. People burst massive firecrackers, blow horns, trumpets, whistles and bells to ring in the fresh New Year.
Europeans believe in tradition of fortune-telling and follow it earnestly. Some people are highly superstitious and believe that the future-forecast will make them aware of anything new for them in the coming year.
New Year celebrations are highlighted with dazzling lights and noisy crackers. Bonfires and fireworks are seen all around. People of Europe splurge in night parties, sumptuous dinners, drinks and dances. There are live concerts and shows specially organized for New Year.
New Year Parades are the most entertaining part of the celebrations. A very big New Year parade takes place in Rome every year. Thousands of people gather at St.Peter's Square to receive the blessings of the Pope.
In Northern Europe, a famous New Year ceremony take place. It is called 'Up-Helly-Aa'. The locals of this area dress up like Vikings and parade around the main town of Lerwick. They hold burning torchlights to cast away darkness in the area. This ceremony ends up with launching a burning Viking ship and bonfires.