New Year’s Eve is just around the corner – hard to believe we are already at the end of 2018.
Tradition plays a big part in New Year’s Eve and it is different in every family, neighborhood, district, country and continent. Nobody does New Year’s Eve exactly the same, but around the world there are some very interesting traditions that you may never have heard of.
Luck plays a big part in a lot of New Year’s celebrations:
In Spain, it is traditional to eat 12 grapes, one at each stroke of midnight. Each grape is meant to bring good luck for each month of the New Year. If you do not finish all of them in time, it is bad luck, but then so is choking to death – bear that in mind. In some of the bigger cities of Spain, people gather together in town squares and city centers to eat the grapes together.
Scotland has many New Year’s traditions, but probably the most interesting comes from Viking times. The first person to cross the threshold of the house after midnight is said to bring luck. If it is a tall, dark-haired man bringing gifts of whisky and various different kinds of food, it is good luck (and the handsomer, the better!) A fair-haired man is said to be bad luck, probably dating back to the Viking invasions when a fair-haired man was very bad luck for whoever’s door he was knocking on.
In Ireland, single women leave a sprig of mistletoe under their pillow on Christmas Eve in hopes that they will find someone to marry in the coming year.
Letting go of the previous year is also a common theme.
The Thingyan festival in Burma involves throwing water on each other to start the New Year with a purified soul, while Denmark has the perfect tradition if you are really looking to move on from last year. People gather together unwanted plates, cups, etc. and throw them at the doors of family and friends to bring good luck. They also jump off chairs, sofas, basically anything to symbolize “leaping into the New Year.” Maybe that’s what Tom Cruise was up to on “Oprah” all those years ago.
There are also a lot of very unconventional celebrations.
Iceland has a ban on fireworks for most of the year, but it is lifted on New Year’s Eve. This is a good recipe for thousands of Icelandic people stocking up on fireworks to set them off at midnight, making for a pretty spectacular view reflected on the snow.
Junkanoo is a festival across the Bahamas. It is celebrated on Boxing Day and on New Year’s Day. It originated from when slaves were allowed to leave the plantations to celebrate Christmas together. In present day, it is a massive parade with dancers, elaborate costumes and loud music.
In Japan, the Buddhist temples ring bells 108 times at midnight. 108 is the number of desires that humans have, according to Buddhist scriptures. Ringing the bells is supposed to dispel negative emotions and mentalities.
In Colombia, it is customary to carry around an empty suitcase. This is thought to bring travel in the New Year.
But Romania definitely takes the prize for the most unusual New Year’s Eve celebrations. There’s a tradition of dressing up in bear costumes and going from door to door in order to scare off evil spirits. Romanian farmers also traditionally try to communicate with their animals on New Year’s Eve. If they are successful, they will have good luck all year.