Whether you’re ringing in the New Year from a faraway land or at home with family and friends, you’re bound to have a few New Year’s traditions. Singing “Auld Lang Syne” to welcome the New Year and eating black-eyed peas for good luck are both popular traditions in the United States.
Around the world, different cultures have their own New Year’s traditions to celebrate the change of the calendar. Here are some New Year’s Eve traditions from around the world.
Wearing special underwear on New Year’s Eve is considered lucky in Brazil, as well as other Central and South American countries such as Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela. Red, which is supposed to bring love in the New Year, and yellow, which is thought to bring money, are the most popular colors.
In Spain, it is tradition to eat 12 grapes on New Year’s Eve, one for each stroke of the clock. Each grape indicates a month of good fortune in the next year. People gather in main squares in larger cities such as Madrid and Barcelona to share their grapes and pass along bottles of cava.
To ward off evil spirits, the Danish welcome the New Year by hurling old plates and glasses against the doors of family and friends. They also “leap” into January by standing on chairs and jumping off of them together at midnight.
People in Finland predict the coming year by pouring molten tin into a container of water and analyzing the shape the metal takes after it hardens. A heart or ring denotes a wedding, a ship denotes travel, and a pig denotes a plentiful supply of food.
In Panama, it is customary to burn effigies (muecos) of well-known persons such as television celebrities and political figures to ward off evil spirits and ensure a new New Year’s start. The effigies are supposed to symbolize the previous year.
“First-footing” is a tradition in Scotland during the New Year’s Eve celebration of Hogmanay. The first person to cross a home’s threshold in the New Year should bring a good luck present. Bonfire ceremonies are also held in Scotland, where people parade while swinging large fireballs on poles, supposedly symbolizing the sun, to purify the coming year.
On New Year’s Eve, spherical shapes in the shape of coins may be found all throughout the Philippines as a symbol of prosperity for the next year. Many households have fruit bowls on their dining tables, and some people eat exactly 12 spherical fruits (grapes are the most typical) around midnight. For good luck, many people wear polka dots.
On New Year’s Eve, an onion is customarily hung on the front entrance of homes in Greece as a symbol of rebirth in the New Year. On New Year’s Day, parents tap their children on the head with an onion to wake them up.
Colombians carry empty luggage around the block in the hopes of a travel-filled new year.