New Year traditions from around the world
1. In Spain, it's customary to eat 12 grapes at midnight on New Year's Eve, representing good luck for each of the coming 12 months.
2. In the Netherlands, oliebollen — which literally means "oil balls" — are consumed on New Year's Eve, which purportedly began as a way to line the stomach with oil as a slick shield against the sword attack of a mythical (evil) goddess. If that doesn't sound appealing, then you haven't seen oliebollen, which are delicious doughnuts.
3. In Germany and Austria, it's all about marzipan pigs. Almond paste and sugar are shaped into hogs which are gifted around New Year's to symbolise good fortune.
4. Along with singing Auld Lang Syne, many folks in Scotland follow the practice of the "first foot" in the house — it's an omen of good luck for the new year if the first person to step foot in the house after midnight is a dark-haired man (this goes back to days of Viking invasions) bringing, among other symbolic items, shortbread, salt and whisky.
5. In Denmark, there is a tradition of smashing plates against the doors of your friends and neighbours (apparently a pile of china shards at your doorstep on New Year's Day is a sign you're beloved.) If you prefer to save your plates for food, many Danes also jump off chairs to ensure good luck for the next year.
Are we going too far with chip flavours?
Remember The Gathering?
It was 24 years ago today that about 4000 people made their way to the remote location of Canaan Downs, Tākaka, to take part in the first Gathering, a two-day festival for electronic dance music fans. Nelson DJ Murray Kingi conceived the New Year event after becoming dissatisfied with the local Entrain parties. He worked up the idea and looked for an outdoor site to host it. With a budget of $90,000 and relying mostly on word-of-mouth advertising, the Gathering was an immediate success. The first event featured more than 100 New Zealand DJs, with 35 acts creating live electronic music, and artists performing in six separate music zones. The 1997/98 event drew a crowd of 8000 and cost $350,000 to run, but brought an estimated $4 million into the local economy. After several successful years, the Gathering began to struggle as more dance parties were organised around the South Island. The final event was held in 2002.