The Link: Ring in the New Year

Most cultures in recorded history have celebrated the turning of the year, and it is perhaps the most widely-celebrated holiday in the world. However, the sheer variety of dates and customs different cultures have associated with the New Year is amazing. Just about any time of the year, from bleak mid-winter to the dog days of summer, is probably New Year’s Day somewhere. Some cultures hold joyous feasts and parties, while others turn to prayer and reflection. Some New Year’s observances even turn into other holidays entirely: the ancient Celtic New Year was Samhain, the beginning of fall and a day when the dead roamed the earth – and today, many of these customs have been retained in the modern Halloween. Take some time to learn about the many fascinating forms of the New Year!

New resources that will be added to the ipl2 are noted NEW! All other resources are already listed in the ipl2 collection.


NEW! New Year’s Eve in Africa
One of’s expert guides gives an overview of New Year’s Eve celebrations across the continent.

NEW! Enkutatash (Ethiopian New Year): September 11
Enkutatash, or “gift of jewels,” marks the traditional Ethiopian New Year. Find out some traditions of this holiday, which according to legend dates to the time of the Queen of Sheba.

High Holy Days on the Net (find it on ipl2)
The Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, has been celebrated in the Middle East since ancient times, and today is celebrated by Jewish people around the world. This site not only explains the meaning and customs of Rosh Hashanah and the High Holy Days, but offers holiday recipes, craft ideas, eCards, and much more!

NEW! Islamic New Year
Ras as-Sana al-Hijreya, the Islamic New Year and the first day of the holy month Muharram, is said to commemorate the Prophet Muhammad’s flight to Medina, and is a solemn time for prayer. Along with Islam, the holiday has spread from its Middle Eastern roots around the world.

No-Rooz, The Iranian New Year at Present Times (find it on ipl2)
Iran has been celebrating the New Year on the first day of spring since ancient times. Learn about Iran’s New Year’s customs, and check out the “No-Rooz: The Zarathushtrian New Year” link at the bottom of the page to learn more about this holiday’s historical roots.

NEW! Yennayer Begins in Algeria
According to legend, Yennayer, the Amazigh (Berber) New Year, has been celebrated in northwestern Africa since the days of the Egyptian pharaohs. Learn more about this holiday’s often-delicious traditions and its renewed popularity after years of official neglect. This article is available in English, French, and Arabic.


NEW! Diwali Festival – Hindu New Year (India)
This site, developed by the Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India, highlights many of the traditions, customs, celebrations and significance of the Hindu Festival of Lights, Diwali. Celebrated for five days and with different customs around Asia as well as within India itself, this site is a colorful collection of Indian religious history, gift-giving ideas, and provides links to external sites for Diwali cards, food, articles, and details about Diwali celebrations around the world.

Chinese New Year (find it on ipl2)
Based on the lunar calendar, Chinese New Year brings about a new zoological zodiac name each year and this site “provides information on how the Chinese New Year’s Day is determined, the Chinese solar/lunar calendar, the animals of the Chinese zodiac, and significance of Chinese dragons, calligraphy, and Chinese graphics.” In addition to historical information, this site also provides links to other yearly calendars from around the world.

NEW! Cambodian New Year (Chaul Chnam Thmey)
Celebrated in April for three to four days, the Cambodian New is a traditional respite before the rainy season and is Cambodia’s “most important festival and holiday.” This site, written by a leader within the American Khmer Community in Washington, highlights the New Year traditions and games involved with the Khmer population’s largest celebration.

Shogatsu – Japanese New Year (find it on ipl2)
This site, devoted to information about Japanese holidays and popular events, highlights the traditions and decorations of Shogatsu, celebrated around the same time as the traditional American New Year. It contains links to traditional foods, games, and decorations traditionally displayed during Shogatsu, complete with colorful and detailed photographs and descriptions.

Têt Nguyen Dan – Vietnamese New Year (find it on ipl2)
In February, the Vietnamese community observes the Celebration of Rebirth, commonly known as Têt, described as “New Year’s Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas all rolled into one.” The traditions, rich history, Vietnamese zodiac, and modern adaptations of the celebration are outlined and highlighted within this site. There is also an array of related links, articles, and resources listed as well as a link to send free Happy Têt e-cards!


The New Year’s Day Parade, London (find it on ipl2)
At noon on January 1, “more than 10,000 performers, representing over a dozen countries world-wide, assemble in the heart of London bringing music, merriment and laughter to the waiting crowds.” The site features a history of the parade, photographs back to 1991, a list of current participants, and a map of the parade route.

NEW! The Mystery of Dinner for One: How an obscure British skit has become Germany’s most popular New Year’s tradition.
Read about a German and Scandinavian tradition – a New Year’s Eve broadcast of the British comedy sketch Dinner for One. Although the comedy sketch is not set around the holiday season, the traditional broadcast has landed the sketch in the Guinness Book of World Records for most repeated TV show ever. If you are interested, the most popular 18 minute version with a German introduction can be found at Google Video.

NEW! Christmas and New Year in Ireland Long Ago
The Irish celebrate New Year’s Eve,  known as Oíche Chinn Bliana (Year’s End Night) and Oíche na Coda Móire (The Night of the Great Feast), by lighting candles and placing them in the windows throughout their homes. Tradition also calls for a cake of bread which is bashed against the front door in order to banish the threat of hunger. The night is often associated with the dead, as absent members of the families are remembered in the family rosary.

NEW!  Dutch New Year Celebrations
The Dutch begin their New Year’s Eve celebration with a quiet evening at home with their families playing board games, watching television, and eating oliebol (Dutch doughnuts), which are washed down with coffee and champagne. The streets remain deserted, public transportation stops running, and bars and cafes remain closed, that is until the stroke of midnight when families take to the streets to watch the traditional fireworks show.

NEW! BBC Scotland – Hogmanay: It’s a tradition
Scotland’s New Year’s Eve tradition, Hogmanay, takes place on December 31st, although the celebration lasts for several days. One popular Hogmanay custom is that of the ‘first-footer,’ in which one’s luck is determined by the first person to visit their home after midnight. If the first-footer is a tall, dark, and handsome man, bringing a small gift, than the occupants will have good luck throughout the year. Read about other Hogmanay customs that vary by locality.

NEW! Sydney Australia’s NYE 2011
Sydney celebrates New Year’s Eve with a big bang! At the stroke of midnight a 12-minute interactive Fireworks Display is launched from seven barges on the Sydney Harbour, the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, and the rooftops of seven city skyscrapers. The theme for ringing in 2012, which will bring more than 1.5 million people to the Harbour, is Time to Dream, which is captured through colors and a show-stopping bridge effect.


NEW! An Ecuadorian tradition, New Year’s Eve burning of the Año Viejo dummies
Año Viejo, Old Year, is an Ecuadorian tradition where life-sized dummies are made only to be burned as a symbol of “out with the old and, we can assume, in with the new.” This web page discusses the origins of the tradition as well as its significance to its participants.

NEW! Junkanoo: Bahamian Festival
Junkanoo is a colorful festival celebrated on the streets of Nassau in the early morning of December 26th and New Year’s Day. This Bahamian festival began as “temporary celebration of freedom of slaves” and has been kept alive by islanders. This site describes Junkanoo’s history and celebration.

NEW! 10 Mexican Traditions for the New Year
In Mexico, Christmas traditions run from New Year’s Day through February. This web page discusses ten New Year’s Day Mexican customs concerning what to wear, eat, and cleaning rituals. It also gives an overview of Catholic traditions following New Year’s Day, El Dia de los Reyes, Three Kings Day, and El Dia de la Candelaria, Candlemas Day.

NEW! New Year in Argentina: Traditions and Customs
New Year’s Day celebrations in Argentina are similar to much of the rest of the world with parties and fireworks. This website describes a typical New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day for Argentinean families, including traditions like swimming in pools, lakes, and rivers and attending church.

NEW! New Year’s Eve at Copacabana
The second largest event in Brazil, New Year’s Eve at Copacabana, mixes Brazilian and African culture. This web page describes the beach celebration, including boats sent into the sea, fireworks, and the use of color and lights as a grand city-wide festivity.


United States New Year (find it on ipl2)
This site provides information on the spectacular celebration of New Year’s Eve in Times Square, New York City, on December 31st. It includes facts on the construction and descent of the famous Waterford crystal ball, the history of past events, and the event fact sheets and schedules.  If you cannot make it to Times Square to post your wishes on the wishing wall, no worries, you can submit your wish to the virtual wishing wall online.

Popular New Year’s Resolutions (find it on ipl2)
This web site contains a list of 13 common New Year’s resolutions with links to related government web sites. Topics include losing weight, paying off debt, getting a better job, getting fit, quitting smoking, reducing stress, taking a trip, and volunteering to help others.

NEW! An Iroquois New Year’s Celebration
The Iroquois New Year is a mid-winter ceremony which takes place around February 1st. The Iroquois thank the Creator for “the Earth’s bounty,” and according to anthropologist Anthony Wallace, the first day included “the public naming of babies followed by a celebratory eating of corn soup.”

NEW! What is Soyal
Like many cultures, the Hopi celebrate the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. The Soyal ceremonies are designed to encourage the sun’s return. Many Hopi people also hold parties and exchange gifts to celebrate the New Year. Learn more about Soyal and the story of the sun’s struggle against darkness here!

NEW! Orthodox New Year in Canada
Canadian Orthodox Christian New Year celebrations include social gatherings, and feature traditional activities and food from Russia and the Ukraine, where the Orthodox Church predominates. Many Orthodox congregations observe the New Year on January 1st of the Julian calendar, which falls around January 14th of the international-standard Gregorian calendar.

NEW! Traditional New Year Celebrations in Canada
Canadians follow customs which are intended to “bring good luck, peace, and prosperity to everyone.” The polar bear swim on New Year is one such tradition in which almost everyone participates. Canadians also have “a tradition of clapping and roaring” at midnight when the New Year arrives in the belief that it chases away the evils of the past year. Kissing is a traditional way of showing love and good wishes, so people in Canada kiss and wish each other Happy New Year at midnight.

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In the News: Famine in the Horn of Africa

More than 300,000 children are in danger of dying because of drought and famine in the Horn of Africa. The United Nations reports that tens of thousands have already died in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti. On August 19, World Humanitarian Day, the United Nations urged the world to give more to the relief effort, which has already garnered $1 billion in aid. In Somalia, insurgents are attempting to block aid and prevent people from fleeing the famine. The situation is grim, but aid groups are scaling up their operations. Many Western aid groups are working with local organizations and Somali relief workers.

New resources that will be added to the ipl2 are noted NEW! All other resources are already listed in the ipl2 collections.

World Food Programme (find it on ipl2)

This resource provides information from the UN organization that distributes food aid throughout the world. The Food Programme includes information about the organization and its donors (government, business, and individual), an interactive world hunger map, updates about areas needing food aid (such as the countries in the Horn of Africa), news, photographs, videos, publications, and more.  Some of the materials offered are available in several languages.

World Hunger Notes – Africa (find it on ipl2: Social Sciences — Social Issues and Social Welfare) 

World Hungers Notes is a publication of the nonprofit organization World Hunger Education Service. The goal of this resource is to educate people about the issues of hunger and poverty. Information is provided about the current droughts and famine in some African countries, as well as many other places in the world that are affected by hunger and poverty. Learn about the causes of world hunger and what is being done to end it.

NEW! Famine in Somalia

The New York Times features two slide shows about the famine in Somalia: Fleeing to Kenya (July 2011) and Dangers Hinder Aid (August 2011). Thousands of Somalis are fleeing to refugee camps in Kenya every day. Many people, particularly children, die along the way; malnutrition puts them at increased risk for contracting deadly diseases. Insurgents have tried to block much of the aid intended for the starving people; however, aid organizations continue to try to find ways to help those in need.

NEW! World Humanitarian Day

August 19, 2011 was World Humanitarian Day. This resource describes the crisis in the Horn of Africa and tells the story of a humanitarian aid worker there. People interested in supporting the relief effort can learn how to help and connect with reliable aid organizations.

Thanks for your continued support of ipl2. We hope these resources help satisfy any questions you may have about famine and drought that is ravaging Somalia and other countries in the Horn of Africa.

Reminder: You can now subscribe to ipl2’s newsletter and weekly blog posts via email as well as RSS. The “Email Subscription” feature appears prominently in the upper left-hand side of the page on the ipl2′s News and Information WordPress blog. Subscription is free and open to all!

In the News: The World’s Newest Nation

On July 9, 2011, The Republic of South Sudan became Africa’s 54th state and the world’s newest nation. This freedom comes after more than five decades of civil war in Sudan and at the cost of approximately two million lost lives. Salva Kiir will be the first president to lead The Republic of South Sudan. While South Sudan has won its freedom, the people of South Sudan will still face many challenges in the months and years to come.

New resources that will be added to the ipl2 are noted NEW! All other resources are already listed in the ipl2 collections.

After Years of Struggle, South Sudan Becomes a Nation (find it on ipl2: Reference – News and Current Events)

This article from the New York Times summarizes the celebration and flag raising that took place in Juba, South Sudan. It also highlights the events that started with a war conflicted country and made this celebration of freedom possible.

Southern Sudan Votes to Split From the North (find it on ipl2: Reference – News and Current Events)

CNN reports on the January Referendum resulting in a majority vote of 98.83% in favor of South Sudan splitting from the North and becoming its own country.

South Sudan: How Long Will the Smiles Last? (find it on ipl2)

The Republic of South Sudan and its people will face many challenges now that South Sudan is officially recognized as its own nation. These challenges include high mortality rates, lack of formal education, security along the border, and control of oil deposits.

South Sudan: Independence is Just the Beginning (find it on ipl2: Reference – News and Current Events)

Some analysts are already predicting this new nation’s failure. The director of Mercy Corps discusses three challenges that South Sudan will face: poverty, conflict, and economic woes.

If you’d like to read more about South Sudan and the Referendum Commission you can view our blog post from January, 26, 2011, Sudan votes for independence.

Thanks for your continued support of ipl2. We hope these resources help satisfy any questions you may have about The Republic of South Sudan.

Reminder: You can now subscribe to ipl2’s newsletter and weekly blog posts via email as well as RSS. The “Email Subscription” feature appears prominently in the upper left-hand side of the page on the ipl2′s News and Information WordPress blog. Subscription is free and open to all!


In the News: Protests in Egypt

Welcome to this week’s ipl2 Weekly Blog post.

This week’s post will highlight resources about the current protests in Egypt.

On January 25th, 2011, protests began in Egypt calling for the removal of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak from office. The past few days have seen a violent backlash from pro-Mubarak supporters, with several western journalists being violently assaulted and accused of instigating rebellion against the regime.

New resources that will be added to the ipl2 are noted NEW! All other resources are already listed in the ipl2 collections.

Resources about the protests:

NEW! Al Jazeera News – Spotlight on “Anger in Egypt”
The English language version of the website for Arab news channel Al Jazeera. Includes videos and print articles about the protests.

NEW! BBC News – Egypt Unrest
The latest BBC coverage of the events in Egypt. Features print articles, videos, and interactive maps.

NEW! Egypt News—The Protests
The New York Times aggregate page including all of their coverage on the situation in Egypt. Includes interactive maps, timelines, slideshow, print articles, and video coverage.

Resources with general information about Egypt:

BBC Country Profile (Find it on ipl2: Resources by Subject – Country Studies)
An overview of the country as presented by the BBC (British Broadcasting Company). Includes country facts, leadership information, and links to Egyptian media websites.

Egypt (find it on ipl2: Resources by Subject – Country Studies)
Maintained by the Columbia University Libraries, this is an aggregate of links about Egypt’s economy, education, history, foreign policy, politics, and online news.

NEW! The World Factbook – Egypt
Statistical information about the country’s geography, demographics, government, economy, transportation, and military. Includes maps and photographs of the country.

For more information about past and present Egypt, visit the ipl2 and search for “Egypt.”

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Sudan votes for independence

Welcome back to ipl2 Weekly Blog posts.

NOW AVAILABLE! You can now subscribe to ipl2’s newsletter and weekly blog posts via email as well as RSS. The “Email Subscription” feature appears prominently in the upper left page on the ipl2’s News and Information WordPress blog.  Subscription is free and open to all!

This week the ipl2 blog will highlight current events in Sudan.

For seven days in January 2011, the people of southern Sudan voted on a referendum on independence from Sudan.  The vote was largely peaceful, and final results will be released within 30 days of the end of voting.  It is widely expected that the vote will be for independence and the creation of the world’s newest country.  Hopefully the process will proceed as peacefully as the voting did.  Here are select resources on this topic.

New resources that will be added to the ipl2 are noted NEW! All other resources are already listed in the ipl2 collections.

Here are 4 websites specifically on the referendum and its outcome:

NEW! Southern Sudan Referendum Commission
This is the official website of the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC), available in English and Arabic.  The SSRC organized the voting in north and south Sudan, and in eight countries worldwide with significant populations of southern Sudanese expatriates. The website details the formation and role of the SSRC, it’s members, goals and how the voting was conducted.

NEW! Southern Sudan 2011
Official referendum results posted by the SSRC.

NEW! Southern Sudan Referendum Commission Out of Country Registration and Voting
Contains information from the SSRC for southern Sudanese living outside of Sudan on eligibility, how to register to vote, where to vote, voting guide, FAQs, and the English text of the Referendum Act of 2009 which set the legal basis for the 2011 referendum.

NEW! South Sudan Referendum
Coverage of the voting, latest information, background on the referendum, and editorials.  From the British Broadcasting Company (BBC).

For current maps and satellite images visit:

NEW! The Satellite Sentinel Project
From the website: “The Satellite Sentinel Project — initiated by George Clooney — combines satellite imagery analysis and field reports with Google’s Map Maker technology to deter the resumption of war between North and South Sudan. The project provides an early warning system to deter mass atrocities by focusing world attention and generating rapid responses on human rights and human security concerns.”

These websites contain an overview of Sudan, articles, videos and current news:

The World Factbook: Sudan (Find it on ipl2:  Resources by Subject – Africa)
Facts, statistics, demographics, history, and a printable map of Sudan.  From “The World Factbook,” published annually by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

NEW! Sudan
Country profile, current news, past articles, videos and editorials from the New York Times online edition.

For additional resources search on ipl2 for “Sudan”.

Thank you for checking in.  The teams at the ipl2 hope you find this information helpful in better understanding our global community’s challenges and triumphs.