The Minimalist Traveller

New Year’s Traditions you don’t want to miss

I’ve celebrated New Year’s Eve in several countries on different continents and have experienced some cool and also weird traditions. Having an international relationship now, we thought it would be fun to adapt some of those. So, I made a research and will share the results with you too.

If you’re traveling this New Year’s Eve in one of the listed countries, check out this list, which tradition you don’t want to miss!

Denmark – Broken Plates & High jump
In Denmark they save all of their unused dishes and plates until the 31st of December when they affectionately shatter them against the doors of all their friends, neighbours and family. The more broken crockery at your door, the more luck you’ll have next year. Well, and cleaning.
In Denmark people also climb on top of chairs and literally “jump” into the New Year to bring good luck.

Spain, eating grapes New Year's Eve

Spain – Eating 12 grapes
In Spain, the New Year’s tradition for good luck revolves around grapes. If you can manage to stuff 12 grapes in your mouth at midnight for every chime of the clock you’ve achieved good luck for the next year.
Not as easy at it seems actually!

Philippines & Netherlands – Round things
Circles have been considered sacred in Philippines. They believe that everything should be round so as to represent coins and bring wealth. Round food and fruits, wearing polka dots, as long as it’s round.
In Dutch homes, eating any ring-shaped treat (such as a doughnut) symbolizes “coming full circle” and leads to good fortune.

Latin America & Italy – Colored underwear
In some Latin American countries, including Mexico and Brazil, it’s believed that wearing colored underwear will determine your fate for the new year. Tradition holds that yellow or gold underwear will bring prosperity, wealth and success, red (or pink in Argentina) means you’ll find love, white signifies peace and harmony and green will ensure health and well-being.Also in Italy, wearing red underwear on New Year’s Eve is thought to bring love, prosperity and good luck.
Well, what can I say – choose wisely!

Argentina – Eating beans
Eating beans will help you either keep your current job or find a better one.

Japan – 108 Rings
In Japan they ring all of their bells 108 times in alignment with the Buddhist belief that this brings cleanness. It’s also considered good to be smiling going into the New Year as it supposedly brings good luck.

Peru – Takanakuy Festival
Every year at the end of December people in this small Peruvian village fist fight to settle their differences. They then start the new year off on a clean slate.
Nothing like a good old fist fight, huh?

Switzerland – Dropping ice cream or whipped cream
In Switzerland ice cream or dollops of whipped cream, symbolizing the richness of the year to come, are dropped on the floors – and allowed to remain there!

Puerto Rico – Water buckets and dropping into waves
In some parts of Puerto Rico they throw pails of water out of their windows to drive away evil spirits. Well, I’ve seen countries, where they do this all year round. Must be really worried about the evil spirits in those…
At the stroke of midnight some people also drop backwards into breaking waves.

Ireland – Bread power
In Ireland they hit the walls with bread to get rid of evil spirits

Bolivia – Sweet coins
In Bolivia coins are baked into sweets and whoever finds the coins has good luck for the next year.
Or a broken tooth…

Pancakes, France, French New Year's tradition

France – Pancakes
The french like to keep things simple and delicious. Every new year they consume a stack of pancakes.

Estonia – Eating for abundance
Also in Estonia it is all about eating. The table is to remain set with the food and people eat seven, nine or twelve times on New Year’s Eve and Day to ensure abundance in the new year.

Colombia – Suitcases
In Colombia they carry their suitcases around with them all day in hopes of having a travel filled year.
I like them!

Thailand – Talc smearing
Besides throwing buckets of water on each other in Thailand they also go around smearing each other with gray talc.

South Africa – Furniture disposal
In some parts of South Africa they throw old furniture out the window, representing “out with the old and in with the new”
God, I hope, not from higher floors tho.

Finland & Estonia – Metal casters
In Finland and Estonia people predict the coming year by casting molten tin into a bucket of water. Once the tin has turned solid again, the shadow it casts is used as the basis of predictions for the upcoming year.

Scotland – First-footing
In Scotland the “first foot” to cross a threshold after midnight will predict the next year’s fortune. Although the tradition varies, those deemed especially fortunate as “first footers” are new brides, new mothers, those who are tall and dark (and handsome?) or anyone born on January 1. The first person to cross the threshold of a home in the new year should also carry a gift for good luck. The luckiest guest to receive is a dark male with a gift of coal.

Jumping into frozen lake, Russia, Siberia, Canada

Siberia & Canada – Jumping into frozen waters
In Siberia and Russia it is a tradition to jump into a frozen lake whilst holding a tree trunk that is placed underneath the ice.
Also in Canada, people jump into freezing waters of The English Bay on New Year’s Day.

Russia – Drinking the wishes
Russians write a wish on a piece of paper, burn it and then throw the ashes into a champagne glass. Champagne must be drunken before 12:01.

Greece – The hanging onion
As a symbol of rebirth for the coming year, an onion is hung from the front door of a house on New Year’s Eve. Next morning the parents wake their kids by tapping them on the head with the onion.

Istanbul, Turkey, New Year's tradition

Turkey – Sprinkling salt
As the bells ring in the new year, people open their front door and sprinkle salt on the doorstep to bring peace and abundance to home or business.
Also helps should the doorway be slippery.

New York, Times Square, Ball drop

United States / New York – Ball drop on Times Square
Since 1907, people have gathered in Times Square every New Year’s Eve to see the New Year ball drop, its minute descent starting at 11:59.

And … in lots of countries – Kissing at midnight
Not doing so will ensure a year of loneliness, according to tradition. It is also said that a midnight kiss will set the tone of your relationship for the coming year.

Long story short – wear red underwear and polka dotted dress while you kiss someone at midnight, having still 12 grapes in mouth you didn’t manage to consume so fast, some beans on the spoon and spilling ice cream on the floor. All that right after you have thrown pails of water and some furniture out of the window, broken few plates and hit the wall with bread. Don’t forget to have a fist fight with the one you’ve had disagreements and hang the onion on your door.

One thought on “New Year’s Traditions you don’t want to miss

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