A well-known new year tradition is the making of New Year's resolutions, that is making resolutions on New Year's Day (to improve oneself or do something good) and try to fulfill it. It is believed that the early Babylonians were the first to start this tradition and ever since, people all over the world have been making and breaking New Year Resolutions. Even the early Christians believed that the first day of the year should be spent reflecting on past mistakes and resolving to improve oneself in that year. But most find this hard to stick to. With time, the resolutions have also changed. While the early Babylonian's most popular resolution was to return borrowed farm equipment, people today resolve to lose weight, quit smoking or stop drinking alcohol.
It is impossible to imagine a New Year celebration without the usual midnight fireworks. The Chinese are credited with inventing fireworks and it is they who are believed to have used them first in their New Year's celebrations with spectacular effect. As a result, noisemaking and fireworks - which were primitively thought to dispel evil spirits and bring good luck, began to be used on New Year's eve for celebration purposes. Depending on the country, individuals may be allowed to burn fireworks on New Year's Eve, even if it is forbidden the rest of the year.
Feasting is an all important part of New Year celebrations and certain foods are thought to bring good luck if eaten on New Year Eve. Traditional Good Luck foods on New Year are considered to be all those goodies that come in circular or ring-like shapes, for such shapes are believed to symbolize "coming full circle," or a complete year's cycle. It is mainly because of this that the Dutch eat donuts and pretzels on New Year's Day. Legumes with ham is said to bring in luck and prosperity in many regions of US. Black-eyed peas and cabbage have also been supposed to be the potential harbingers of good fortune in many cultures. Cabbage leaves are said to bring in paper currency. In many places, people prepare dishes and put beans and black-eyed peas in it. In the New Year Feast, the person who gets them while dining is supposed to be the luckiest person at the table who will be the ward of Lady Luck and Lady Fortune throughout the year. The tradition originated in southern US. In some regions, rice is thought to be a lucky New Year food.
Another popular tradition is the New Year Parade. In the United States, one of the most famous parades is the Tournament of Roses held in Pasadena, CA on New Year's Eve. The parade dates back to 1886 when members of the Valley Hunt Club decorated their carriages with flowers to celebrate the ripening of the orange crop in California. Gradually the flower-decked carriages gave way to floats. According to parade rules, the floats can be covered only with fresh flowers.
Generally, Old Year is shown as a very old man in rags, with a white beard and a stick while New Year is represented as a new smiling baby in diapers. The tradition of using a baby to signify the new year began in Greece around 600 BC. The ancient Grecians celebrated their New Year by putting a baby in a basket and showing it to everyone. They believed that this act represented the annual rebirth of their god of wine, Dionysus, as the spirit of fertility. But the Grecians were not the only ones, even the early Egyptians used a newborn as a symbol of rebirth. Later, even Christians took on the practice, though the baby for them symbolized the birth of the baby Jesus. In America, the tradition was brought by the Germans. Today, you can find an image of a baby with a New Year banner being used as a new year symbol in America.