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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

How Will You Welcome 2015?

New Year's Eve and New Year's Day celebrations and customs vary across the world. While we in Mississippi are feasting on black-eyed peas and cabbage, take a gander at what festivities others across the world are enjoying:

The German custom of Bleigießen, or lead pouring, is known in English as molybdomancy, "a form of divination by observing the behavior of molten lead" (OED). To participate, a person melts a tiny blob of lead by holding it in a spoon over a candle or other small flame. After pouring the lead into a bowl of water, the shape is "interpreted" with various patterns portending certain events and changes. It reminds me of the time Harry Potter's Divination Class read tea leaves; I believe it has about the same accuracy rate. For instance, a lead blob that comes out looking like an apple signifies that your trust will be broken. Moon shaped blob? You'll be honored soon. Germans can buy Bleigießen sets which include the spoon, lead blobs, and interpretations. You can check out more meanings here.

Bleigießen set

In Spain, there is the tradition of las doce uvas de la suerte, or the twelve lucky grapes. One dozen of a particular variety of Spanish green grape is eaten as the clock strikes, ringing in the New Year. One grape per gong is hurriedly munched, but all twelve grapes must be consumed to guarantee a lucky new year. You can read more about this fun custom here.

12 lucky grapes

Ded Moroz, or Grandfather Frost, is a Russian New Year's figure who came into even greater prominence during the country's Communist years. He visits children and hands out gifts like Santa Claus; he even looks quite a bit like Old Saint Nick.

Grandfather Frost and his helper, Snow Maiden
Ded Moroz even has GLONASS tracking so that children can watch his flight to distribute presents, just like Santa uses NORAD. Check out more about that here.

Craving even more fun New Year's customs? Check out this entry from a few years back. The staff at the Mississippi Library Commission hope that you have a fantastic 2015! Happy New Year!
New year's day (Russia). (2010). In Holidays, festivals, and celebrations of the world dictionary. Retrieved from
New year's eve (Spain). (2010). In Holidays, festivals, and celebrations of the world dictionary. Retrieved from
Silvester. (2007). In Collins german dictionary. Retrieved from

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