Students note New Year's holidays around the world
By CHUCK CLEMENT, Staff Reporter
As persons living in South Dakota and the rest of North America ready themselves for New Year's Eve celebrations -- maybe preparing for parties or an evening out on the town -- people on the other side of the globe have already greeted 2013 in their own way.
MICK ICKE (left) from Holland and Gerd Wautzloben from Germany are currently attending Madison High School as exchange students. The New Year's holiday in their home countries is a large celebration that includes fireworks. (Photo by Chuck Clement)
Midnight's arrival of the New Year starts in the Pacific Ocean in places such as New Zealand. In New Zealand and Australia, the clock is about 19 hours ahead of Central Standard Time and residents are starting their New Year's Day.
Western Europe is only seven hours ahead of the central United States, and Gerd Wautzloben, a German exchange student, said his mother Felicitas would typically be in the middle of preparing food for a party tonight. According to Wautzloben, the dishes might include bratwurst and German potato salad or roast duck. Other members of the family, his father Gerald and sister Annika might busy themselves with putting up decorations and preparing party favors and confetti.
According to Wautzloben, the holiday celebrations are typically held at home in Seebach, his hometown located in the middle of Germany, in which friends are invited to join a party.
Wautzloben said the countryside around Seebach is hilly and mountainous and the popular winter sports are cross-country and downhill skiing. However, persons wanting to enjoy those sports have so far had a disappointing winter.
"There isn't much snow right now," Wautzloben said. "We have had a really warm year in Germany."
The warmer weather might provide a more comfortable atmosphere for a New Year's tradition in which persons head outside to watch the holiday fireworks.
"At night, people will go out for walks to watch fireworks in the sky," Wautzloben said.
Wautzloben said many Germans purchase and shoot off their own fireworks on New Year's Eve, providing a panorama of bright streaks and starbursts in the night sky.
According to Wautzloben, one New Year's tradition centers on predicting what the new year will bring to each person. He said that some Germans will heat a soft metal by putting it in a spoon over a candle flame. When the metal melts into liquid, the spoon holder drops the metal into water, where it solidifies into unusual shapes.
The new shape of the metal is compared to similar ones illustrated in a manual so that each person can have a personal prediction for the new year. The shapes could indicate prosperity, good luck or maybe romance.
Mick Icke came to Madison High School from Haarlem in The Netherlands. Icke said the Dutch prepare for the holiday by readying party necessities such as champagne, cigars and fireworks.
"It's a really big deal," Icke said. "It's like the Fourth of July here."
According to Icke, he's been able to purchase fireworks for a couple of years, after he turned 16. He said the Dutch have some fireworks smuggling that comes over the country's border with Belgium. The Belgians sell fireworks that provide a bigger bang than what's allowed in Holland, and Dutch authorities try to catch the illegal contraband as it comes into the country.
The Dutch will often watch on TV the nighttime celebration in Rotterdam where a large fireworks show is held. Each year, a popular comedian -- typically a different one from the previous year -- will have a 90-minute special comedy show broadcast on Dutch TV in the early evening.
Wautzloben said that many Germans also have a TV tradition on New Year's Eve in which they watch a broadcast of "Dinner for One," a British comedy in black and white. He said the 18-minute comedy was shown at 10 or 11 p.m. on New Year's Eve. "Dinner for One" was filmed in the early 1960s and the comedy sketch is popular in many European countries, making it one of the most repeated broadcasts ever.
Icke said his parents, Fred and Jolanda, and younger brother Max might sleep in a bit on New Year's morning and spend part of the holiday visiting grandparents.
Moritz Bollacher, another German exchange student, said fireworks also play a big part of New Year's celebrations in his region of Germany. His parents, Tilman and Katrin, and brothers Ferdinand and Julius live in southern Germany near Switzerland.
In the Black Forest region, the families may have different parties for the adults and teenagers/young adults, but the celebrations are usually held in homes.
"It depends on what's traditional for each family -- what's important to yourself," Bollacher said. "In the cities, they will have outdoor parties in the evening."
On the eve of the new year, Bollacher's family will prepare fondue to eat, play games, and the older members will drink champagne at midnight. According to Bollacher, the churches that have bells will ring in the new year when midnight arrives.
The next morning, Bollacher said his family will eat breakfast with the grandparents.
Kimberley Mais from Cairns, Australia, said the Australians will often watch the celebration held in Sydney where bands play popular music and wait for the fireworks to go off at midnight.
Jan. 1 falls in the summer for the Australians, so her family -- parents Lloyd and Monica and siblings, Hayley and Alistaii -- might enjoy a swim or take in a cricket match. The Down Under residents also enjoy the day as a public holiday.
"It's kind of like Christmas in a way, without the gifts -- everyone gets together to celebrate," Mais said.