The period before the celebration of the New Year means for many a time of personal reflection, an evaluation of the past and a time to make plans for the future. It is a celebration, full of hope for the new things to come and another chance to be together with our family and loved ones.
As we get to the end of 2008, many events attracted the world's attention this year, like the Olympics in Beijing, China, the US presidential elections or the bad news of the global economy crisis; but happily the celebration of the New Year is the one recurring event that brings the world together in celebration every year again.
Many go to great length to make the most of this festive day. A different mix of food, drinks, traditions and superstitions makes the evening uniquely celebrated within many different cultures. As a reflection of that, cities around the world have been having their ways of celebrating New Year's Eve for many years.
New Yorkers traditionally get crazy in Times Square, the city's iconic centre, although a curious celebration takes place on January 1 in Coney Island, NY, where some people use the day to take a dip in the freezing waters of the Atlantic.
The city of Sydney in Australia displays an amazing show of fireworks at the city's harbour, illuminating the city's skies and the boats of onlookers.
In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, some people wear white to symbolize good luck and offer gifts to the sea goddess in the beach, lemanja, asking her to fulfil their wishes and hopes. Celebrations include spectacular fireworks, candles in the sand and of course, dance.
Japan celebrates the New Year throughout the end of December with "year-forgetting parties", aiming for the attendee's psyche to be free and clear of the misfortunes of the past year when the new year starts.
In Germany, towns along the Rhine River light up with sparkling decorations, setting their enchanting riverbanks alight.
Honouring a historical tradition, people in Spain eat 12 grapes in the 12 seconds before midnight, one with each stroke of the bell.
As for us at MyHeritage, we celebrate every New Year with the certainty of having done the most to help people around the world grow stronger family bonds in the present, while knowing more about their family's past, and hoping that in the next new year, more and more families will do the same.
And what about you? Share with us any special kind of traditional celebration that takes place in your family and culture!
Our best wishes of happiness and joy for you and your family in 2009!!!
Photo by Christopher Chan/Flickr