We’ve finally made it to the end of another great year. As the hours are winding down on 2018, people around the world are getting ready or are already celebrating the New Year. Depending on where you’re found in the world, your idea of a New Year’s Eve celebration may differ quite a bit from someone else’s traditions. To end the year off on a bang and to celebrate the many different cultures and traditions around the globe, my last blog post of the year will be this one, where we’ll be exploring the different ways people celebrate the upcoming new year, with many unique and downright strange traditions to be discovered.
One of the many New Year’s traditions involving food, in Spain, it is tradition to eat 12 grapes by the stroke of midnight. The fruit is eaten in time with the twelve chimes of the clock counting down to the new year and represents good luck for each of the upcoming twelve months. It is believed that if you are unable to eat all of your grapes, then your upcoming year will be filled with bad luck. In bigger cities found in Spain, such as Madrid and Barcelona, it is also quite common to make the grape eating process a reason to throw a big party, where hundreds of people will gather in the main square and eat their grapes all together while celebrating.
Though there are multiple traditions that are practiced during the holidays in Ireland, there are two main ones that stick out amongst the others. The first one is geared more toward single people looking to meet their true love in the new year. These people are encouraged to place mistletoe underneath their pillows on New Years Eve, so that they will dream of their future husbands or wives. Another popular tradition, that has been celebrated for centuries now, involves banging a special Christmas bread against the walls and the doors of a house in order the rid the residence of bad luck and bad vibes and to invite in the good spirits.
Not only is the colored underwear tradition popular in Argentina, it can also be found in multiple other South American countries as well as across the pond in Italy. While the colors of the underwear and their meanings differ from country to country, in Argentina it is believed that wearing the color red under your pants on New Years Eve will help attract love and new relationships in the upcoming year. Another strange tradition celebrated throughout the country, is that of eating beans on the last day of the year which is supposed to help you keep your current job or to help you to find a better one.
While breaking one your favorite plates or your cute new mug is reason enough for anyone to be slightly upset, in Denmark broken dishes are a thing for celebration. All year long, the people in Denmark save up all of their old or chipped and cracked dishes for the last night of the year. On this special night, people will go around smashing dishes on the doors of friends’ and family’s homes. The next morning, the amount of broken shards of dishware that can be found on your front steps, will determine both how popular you are as well as how lucky you’ll be in the new year.
Next up on the list we have Estonia, where their New Year’s tradition will have you wondering how they even make it to the new year without going into a food coma induced nap beforehand. The perfect New Years tradition for foodies, in Estonia it is common to eat a lucky number of meals on New Years Eve, in order to have the most luck and good fortune for the following year. Typically 7, 9, and 12 are considered to be the luckiest of numbers and therefore eating any of those amounts of meals, will give you the strength of that many men in the new year. No worries though, if ever you couldn’t possibly finish everything on your plate after that many amount of dishes, it is actually encourage to leave a bit of leftover food on your plate as it will make the ancestral spirits happy.
Even though China does their own thing and doesn’t actually celebrate the new year at the same time as mostly everyone else in the world, they still have some pretty unique traditions that are worth discovering. Typically celebrated in the month of February, the Chinese New Year is synonym with the color red. This color is a huge symbol of good luck in the country, making it perfect for celebrating the upcoming new year. In celebration of the holiday, almost all households will paint the front door of their home red with the color also being found on lanterns, dragons wandering the streets, and on envelopes used to gift children money. Another common thing for Chinese people to do in preparation for the new year is to hide all of the knives found in the house. This prevents people from cutting themselves on New Years which could impact the luck of the entire family.
As a symbol of rebirth in the new year, an onion is traditionally hung on the front door of homes in Greece. This onion is put out on New Years Eve and is then used the following morning where parents will use it to wake their children on the first day of the year by tapping the children on the head with the onion.
Also known as ‘omisaka’, New Years Eve is celebrated throughout the country but the main celebrations take place in the Buddhist temples scattered around Japan. At these temples, it is tradition to ring the temple bells 108 times, with each bell toll representing a possible human sin in Buddhist belief. This practice is believed to cleanse a person of their sins from the previous year and to get them ready for the new year with a clean slate.
Taking the saying, out with the old and in with the new, quite literally, in South Africa it is typical to do a complete cleansing of your home in preparation for the upcoming twelve months. This is done mainly by getting rid of any old or broken appliances and furniture, to make way for the newer stuff. Mainly done as a way to let go of the negativity and to enforce more positivity, people will get rid of their old stuff by throwing it out the windows of their homes, no matter how high above ground they may be. This custom has become so popular to partake in, that it is actually considered a health hazard to be walking the streets of Johannesburg on this day. This tradition is also practiced in other countries around the world such as Italy.
Although they are available all year round, Germans love to indulge in special jelly filled donuts on New Years, known as ‘berliner pfannkuchen’. These donuts are prepared in big batches by local bakeries in the days leading up to the festivities. Though it may sound like a pretty tasty tradition, it can actually be quite unpleasant for some. The reason for this, is that while some of the donuts will be filled with delicious, sticky jelly, there will also be some of them filled with more undesirable fillings such as onions or mustard. Not only will getting one of these nasty donuts fill your mouth with a bad taste, it is also believed that you will have bad luck for the new year.
In a strange twist of events, in Switzerland, rather than eat a special dessert on New Years, they choose to drop it on the floor instead. It is quite common and known to be a tradition to drop a dollop of cream onto the floor in order to ring in the new year. This is thought to bring about a promising upcoming year as well as wealth, good luck, and peace. It is also not unheard of for Swiss people to dress up in costumes on the night before the new year to chase away evil spirits and to bring about good energy.
For Brazilians, it’s a good thing that the start of the new year also corresponds with the start of the summer season in Brazil, as their tradition involves being in the ocean. Especially popular on Brazil’s famous Copacabana beach, this new years tradition involves going into the ocean and jumping over seven waves, each one thought to bring good luck. It is also suggested to wear white when doing so, to bring peace in the following year. Another common thing to do, is to bring bouquets of white flowers to throw into the ocean as an offering to the sea goddess, in the hopes that she will grant all of their wishes in the new year.