New Year’s Traditions
New Year’s eve is seen as an optimistic and pure holiday that many people around the world celebrate differently. Cultures, globally, follow certain traditions as the clock strikes 12.
While it is very common for someone in New York to watch the ball drop in Times Square, there are some New Year’s eve traditions around the world that might take you by surprise.
South and Central America: “Unda-paants”
Many countries in South and Central America believe that wearing brightly colored underwear can bring great benefits to the upcoming year. The most common colors are red, which brings love, and yellow that brings money and good fortune.
The Philippines: “Polka-dots & circular fruit”
In the Philippines, round fruits (symbolizing a coin) are always on display for New Year’s eve to ensure prosperity. Also, wearing polka-dots ensures the same outlook.
Spain: “12 grapes”
Both the Philippines and Spain believe in eating handfuls of grapes (because of their round shape) at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s eve. They would typically eat a grape per second on the last 12 seconds of the countdown.
Scotland: “Fireballs and whiskey”
As part of the Scottish festival of Hogmanay, parades of village men swing balls of fire at the ends of sticks over their heads to purify the New Year. The Scots also believe in bringing a gift when you pass through the threshold of a home on New Year’s eve (typically Whiskey).
South Africa: “Old appliances? pshh, toss it”
In downtown Jo-burg, locals throw old appliances out of the windows on New Year’s. (Ah! Watch out!) You know that old Television you just donated to the Salvation Army? …yeah, should have held onto it!
Greece: “What’s in this cake?”
In Greece, New Year’s is also the Festival of St. Basil (one of the founders of the Greek Orthodox Church). One traditional food that is served is Vassilopitta (or St. Basil’s cake). A silver or gold coin is baked inside the cake! Whoever the lucky person is who finds the coin in their piece will be especially lucky during the upcoming year!
Colombia: “Grab your suitcase!”
People will walk around the block with empty suitcases to ensure a travel-filled year!
Japan: “There’s a horse sitting in temple”
In Japan, the faithful wear a costume of the New Year’s zodiac sign (2014 is the Horse) to the local temple, where the bells will chime a sacred 108 times.
Denmark: “Broken glass anyone?”
The fun-loving folks from Denmark like to ring in the New Year’s by hurling old plates and glasses at the front doors of their friends and family! (AH! And no one finds this dangerous? Broken glass, hello?) They also jump off of chairs at the same time when the clock strikes 12 to banish bad spirits!
Finland: “I can read your…tin(?)”
The Finnish like to predict the outcome of the upcoming year by pouring molten tin into water and deciphering the meanings of the shapes! Some examples for New Year’s would include a heart or ring symbolizing a wedding, a pig would bring plenty of food and a ship would mean lots of travel! (What if you can’t figure it out? Do we just guess?)
Belarus: “The Marriage Games”
In Belarus, they like to play games to predict the next woman to get married! One game includes pouring corn in front of different women’s feet and releasing a rooster. Whoever is standing behind the pile of corn that the rooster chooses will be the next to marry!
Another game for New Year’s includes a married woman hiding things throughout her house. Un-married women will go through her house and find her missing items! The loaf of bread means your husband will be wealthy and a ring means he will be handsome!
Estonia: “Strength of 7 (drunk) men”
In older times, it was said to eat 7 times on New Year’s Day to have strength for the upcoming year (eating 7 times symbolizes having the strength of 7 men), but as times have changed, “food” has become “alcohol.”
While many of us think this list is super wacky, for many it is tradition. Whatever you do to ring in New Year’s, whether its chucking electronics out the window or looking for your aunt’s wedding right in her house, it is always fun to see how other people celebrate as well.
Be safe, have fun and enjoy the new purity of having an entire year ahead of you!