Everyone here at M&S Accountancy and Taxation hopes you have had a relaxing festive break and a great New Year. In Scotland, we have lots of traditions associated with Hogmanay, usually involving having a great time with friends and neighbours, however, we are well aware that there are many different ways of celebrating the arrival of the New Year. For a change, rather than concentrating on tax (although I’ll return to it below!), here is how a few other countries bring in the New Year…
For example, in Poland there is a legend that Pope Sylvester captured a dragon which would have eaten everyone on earth and set fire to the skies. Consequently, for the Polish, New Year’s Eve is “St Sylvester’s Eve,” when they celebrate the fact that the world did not end at the end of the year.
In Russia, it’s good luck to start the New Year without any debts, so people try to pay off their bills and other debts. That’s something we’d encourage at M&S! Also, in the last 12 seconds of the old year, Russians make secret wishes for the coming year.
In contrast, the Spanish eat grapes, one for every chime of the clock as it strikes midnight. They also used to eat a traditional soup, which contained Brussel Sprouts, but we’re not sure if that’s so popular nowadays (for obvious reasons!).
The Chinese New Year is, as you probably know, not at the same time as ours. Instead, they celebrate between January 21st and February 20th, depending on the Chinese calendar. Some Chinese paint their front doors red, because red symbolises good luck and happiness and they also put all knives away for 24 hours, because if someone cuts themselves that would cut the family’s good luck for the New Year.
In Denmark, people like to smash plates at New Year. This is said to bring good luck for the next 12 months, so if you are in Denmark don’t be surprised to find a broken plate on your doorstep on January 1st!
In Brazil, lentils are associated with money, so at New Year you might see Brazilians eating lots of lentils! We’re not sure this is a sound investment strategy (it also seems to have too much in common with the Spanish soup mentioned above!).
In Korea, the first day of the lunar New Year is called Sol-nal and it’s the day to renew family ties. You might also see rakes and sieves on the outside doors and walls of homes: they are put there to protect the families inside from evil spirits. On New Year’s Day people wear new clothes made with five colours (red, white, blue, yellow and green), symbolising a new start.
I hope you’ve’ enjoyed this brief romp through other cultures different approaches to New Year. We’re now (sadly, but of necessity) back at our desks and gearing up for the first big deadline of 2018. In case you didn’t know, the last date for filing your tax return to HMRC is 31st of January. Most of our clients have already got theirs done: if you are one of the minority who haven’t (or aren’t one of our clients and have forgotten – or not been reminded) then it’s time to get cracking. Happy New Year!
Stewart McKinnon, Director, M&S Accountancy and Taxation Ltd.