Same, same, but very slightly different. Here are some traditions surrounding New Year's in Luxembourg!

Origins

Celebrating the new year goes back as far as 2000 BCE when Babylonians of ancient Mesopotamia celebrated the beginning of the new year following the spring equinox (when day and night are generally of equal length), around late March. The event was called Akitu and symbolised the rebirth of the natural world and feritility. This lasted several days (talk about partying hard!) and consisted of performing different everyday rituals, processions, and presenting offerings to the gods.

Throughout time, calendars were continuously changed and adjusted depending on astronomical events or political situations. Some of you might be surprised to know that it was actually Julius Caesar who decided January 1 to be the first day of the calendar in 153 BCE. The date would partially also celebrate the two-faced God of beginnings, Janus, who was able to see the past and the future. It symbolised leaving the past year behind after reflecting on it and looking forward to a new year and a new beginning.

In medieval Christian Europe, another change occurred. The first of January was seen as a pagan celebration and Christian authorities recognized 25 March as the new beginning of the year. Some also recognized 25 December or Easter, but most of Europe saw the day of Anunciation (the day when Mary was visited by angel Gabriel about her pregnancy) as the day celebrating new year. People marked the occasion by making offerings in shrines and organising processions in the streets.

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII and his Gregorian calendar switched back to what until this day is known as our first new year's day, namely 1 January.

Celebrating in Luxembourg

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© Facebook: Luxembourg City Tourist Office - LCTO/ PHOTO DUDAU

It is no secret that New Year's eve is one of those special nights where our small Grand Duchy becomes one big street party. From lavish festivities to balls and displays of fireworks, Luxembourg is everything but boring on the final day of the year!

Party goers usually opt for some of Luxembourg City's most renowned bars and clubs to get their groove on, while some people prefer to spend their night at a friend's house. Something that can often be found on the tables of a Luxembourgish New Year's eve party are paté, foie gras, fondue, or oysters. And of course never forget our beloved crémant!

1 January is a bank holiday and is usually the day when people call their friends and relatives to ask if they had "Ee gudde Rutsch" (a good slide into the new year). Some people use this opportunity to have lunch together and get together all of the relatives they usually don't see as often. People that partied the whole night through are usually not as fond of these get-together's, you might guess why.

'Neijoerschdag' (New Year's Day) customs

Luxembourgish traditions are often rooted in religion or tied to agriculture and rural life. Traditions have also always evolved and changed according to the social and political context of the country.

The custom of wishing your friends and family good health and happiness is of course present in Luxembourg. Children traditionally get a "neit Jaerchen" from their grandparents or godparents. Typically, that gift comes in form of "confectionery, money or similar".

Another custom is for service providers, such as mail carriers, to get a small tip in the first days of January as a a way to thank them for their services all year long. So don't be surprised if someone comes knocking on your door with an expecting look on their face.

The custom of making new year's resolutions is also present in Luxembourg, as is probably the fact that most people don't keep them...

Fun fact: It is said that the idea of making new year's resolutions also dates back to the Babylonians, who wanted to start off the new year on a 'good foot' with the Gods. This meant that offerings, cleanses, and any debts had to be taken care of before the start of the New Year in order to have a clean slate.

'Dräikinneksdag' (Three Kings' Day)

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'Dräikinneksdag', mostly known as Epiphany, is celebrated on 6 January. Luxembourg celebrates this day by eating the 'Dräikinnekskuch' (Three Kings' cake)  or in French 'galette des rois"', a traditional pastry with frangipane. Custom calls for a bean to be hidden in the cake and whoever finds the bean in their piece of cake becomes king or queen for the day. The king or queen even gets to wear a cardboard golden crown that comes with the cake! Nowadays, the bean is usually replaced by a small porcelain figurines.

Read more here: Knowledge Bites:Dräikinneksdag/Dräikinnekskuch