Various cultures welcome 2012 in United States

New Year celebrations unite cultures as every culture celebrates the beginning of a new year. But what's even more interesting are the different ways the New Year is celebrated in various cultures.

In Venezuela, people set afire effigies made with explosives and gun powder on New Year's eve. These figures symbolize failures, sorrows and anger of the old year and by burning them, people hope to enter the New Year which is full of happiness, joy and peace. "We call it 'Muneaco De Ano Viejo' and people are more passionate to practice this tradition because it gives us a new hope of cheerfulness for the New Year," said Andreina Gomez from Venezuela.

"People in each neighborhood would burn the doll on New Year's eve which gives them a sense of relief. They would then do fireworks, have drinks, sing and dance to celebrate the New Year."

Gomez says family reunion is very significant part of the New Year in Venezuela. "We celebrate New Year's eve with family and not with friends. New Year celebrations are very family-oriented."

"December is a month of celebration. It offers great opportunities for families to get together; for family members who haven't seen each other in a very long time, " says Alfred Maingi from Kenya. Jamhuri – Kenya Republic Day – is celebrated on Dec. 12. It's a national holiday in Kenya and patriotic songs are played the whole day on radio and television. Also on this day, articles about Jamhuri are published in newspapers. Then comes Christmas on Dec. 25, which is a very big celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ Finally we have the New Year. On New Year's Eve, people like Christmas, attend the midnight mass till six in the morning to seek God's graces for the New Year. For those who missed the midnight mass, they can attend daytime mass on January 1."

"In Kenya like the European system that allows for four weeks of paid vocation per year, people get 30 days of paid holidays each financial year. Most employees in Kenya take a month-long vacation in December because of the three big holidays – Jamhuri, Christmas and New Year – of the month," says Maingi.

Arman, a Bangladeshi student at USD, said Bangladesh is a Muslim country. There's no obligatory or special prayer for New Year. But on New Year's eve, we do 'nafl salah' (optional prayer) to thank Allah for His gracefulness and to seek His forgiveness for the mistakes we made in the previous year. We also seek Allah's blessings for our good life in the New Year. People would then gather outside their houses to do fireworks."

"Special TV and radio shows are broadcast on New Year's eve that run till midnight. These programs cover highlights of all important political, social, as well as entertainment and sports events of the old year. Talk shows are also broadcast on New Year's eve featuring major events of the previous year and discussing ways on what needs to be done in the New Year. Various cultural shows are also organized across the country."

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