New Year Traditions Around the World

Although the typical New Year’s eve bash will usually consist of a celebratory toast, confetti and a kiss but different countries around the world have different traditions and ways of celebrating the new year. Here are a couple of traditions that take place in different parts of world on the 31st of December.

South America – Many citizens of South American countries, notably Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, participate in wearing different color underwear for New Year’s Eve. Yellow underwear is worn for those wanting wealth and prosperity. Red underwear is worn for those looking for love in the new year.

Denmark – Danish have a very loud and destructive way of entering the new year- they break dishes. People throw their old dishes on their friends’ doors on New Years and the one with the most dishes outside their door, has the most friends. They believe that broken china means more friends. Many Danish also leap off chairs at midnight, hoping to ban all bad spirits in the new year. It is believed that leaping into the New Year is supposed to conquer bad spirits and bring good luck.

Philippines – It is a tradition in the Philippines, that on the new year’s eve Filipinos focus on all round things, wearing ploka dot clothes, eating round fruits like grape. They hope that the round shapes will help bring wealth in the form of coins for the new year.

Spain – At midnight, it’s a Spanish custom to quickly eat 12 grapes — one for each stroke of the clock. The grapes are supposed to represent good luck for each month of the coming year.

Belarus – In Belarus, unmarried women compete at games of skill to determine who will get married first in the new year. One game involves setting piles of corn and a rooster before each of the single ladies. Whichever pile the bird approaches first, is believed to be the one who is to be married first.

Germany and Austria – Germans and Austrians have the tradition of Bleigießen. It means lead pouring and true to its name, molten lead like tea leaves is poured into a bowl filled with water. Poured into the water, the lead forms shapes which predict what is going to happen in the new year. If the lead forms a ball it means good luck, if it looks like an anchor it means you will need help in the new year, a heart or ring shape means a wedding, a ship a journey, a pig plenty of food in the year ahead, a tree can signify hope and if it’s a cross it means death.

Ecuador – Ecuador has a unique custom of making scarecrows and burning them at midnight. They dress up and fill the scarecrows with newspapers and pieces of wood. The fiesta includes all the locals gathering together with pictures that represent something they do not want in the new year from the last year and burning it.

Chile – In the city of Talca in Chili, people celebrate the new year with their dead relatives. The doors of the cemetery are opened for the local public by the Town’s mayor at 11 pm sharp. People are welcomed in the cemetery with light classical music and dim blinking lights giving the cemetery a party like feel. They believe that their loved ones wait for them in the cemetery and they should start the new year with them. The tradition began in 1995, when a local family jumped the cemetery fence to spend New Year’s near their father’s grave. Now over 5,000 people have adopted this tradition.

Puerto Rico – When it’s New Year’s Eve in Puerto Rico, they throw buckets of water out the window to “clean” the old year out. They also clean their homes and decorate them, as it is supposed to symbolize the “cleaning” of the spirit.

Greece – The Greeks celebrate the beginning of the New Year by sharing a traditional cake known as Vassilopitta or St. Basil’s cake into which a coin has been baked. It is believed that whoever finds the coin in their piece of cake would be especially lucky during the coming year.

Japan – On New Year’s Eve, bells are rung 108 times to chase away troubles. After the gongs,the Japanese all laugh because it’s believed that sharing a chuckle will drive away the bad spirits.

United States – Wild cheers at the stroke of midnight is believed to ward off evil spirits. Chase the bad away and ring in the new. Kissing your loved one ensures that friendly ties will grace you and the person for the next 12 months.

England – The British place their fortunes for the coming year in the hands of their first guest. They believe the first visitor of each year should be male and bearing gifts. Traditional gifts are coal for the fire, a loaf for the table and a drink for the master. For good luck, the guest should enter through the front door and leave through the back. Guests who are empty-handed or unwanted are not allowed to enter first.


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