As the year comes to an end and we all think about our New Year’s resolution (learning a new language maybe?), we wanted to take a moment to look at some of the most incredible New year’s eve traditions from around the world. These traditions may seem strange, but do they all share an underlying theme? If you are looking to say “Happy New Year” that is another story.
THE CRAZIEST NEW YEAR’S EVE + DAY TRADITIONS
- In Denmark, people traditionally throw old plates and dishes at the homes of friends and family as a way to wish them good luck in the new year.
- In Italy (Naples) it is customary to throw old things out your window and on to the street below. Often, these objects include large appliances and things as large as sofas.
- In Ecuador, people burn the effigies of well-known public figures as a way to symbolically let go of the past and start fresh in the new year.
- In the Philippines, people believe that making loud noises on New Year’s Eve will drive away evil spirits and bring good luck in the new year. As a result, many people set off fireworks and bang pots and pans to make noise.
- In Spain, it is traditional to eat one grape for each of the final 12 seconds of the year, with each grape representing a month of the coming year. If you successfully eat all 12 grapes, it is believed that you will have good luck in the new year.
- In South Africa, it is customary to jump up and down seven times at midnight to ensure good luck in the new year.
- In Germany, it is traditional to bake a cake in the shape of a ring and serve it on New Year’s Eve. It is believed that whoever finds the trinket baked inside the cake will have good luck in the coming year.
- In Estonia, people traditionally eat seven, nine, or twelve meals on New Year’s Eve, with each meal representing a wish for the coming year.
- In Italy, wearing red underwear on New Year’s Eve is traditional, which is believed to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits. Also, it looks rather nice.
- In Scotland, it is customary to clean the house from top to bottom on New Year’s Eve to sweep away any bad luck from the previous year.
- In Brazil, it is traditional to wear white clothing on New Year’s Eve and to throw flowers into the ocean as an offering to the goddess of the sea.
- In Japan, it is customary to ring a temple bell 108 times on New Year’s Eve to symbolize the 108 human desires that cause suffering, according to Buddhist tradition.
- In Puerto Rico, people traditionally eat 12 grapes at midnight, with each grape representing a wish for the coming year.
- In Finland, it is traditional to predict the future by casting molten tin into a container of cold water and interpreting the shape that it forms.
- In Greece, it is customary to write down a list of all the things you want to leave behind in the old year and then burn the list as a way to symbolically let go of the past.
- In Belgium, it is traditional to bake a cake in the shape of a log and decorate it with marzipan, icing, and sweets. The cake is then cut and served on New Year’s Day.
- In Latvia, it is customary to celebrate New Year’s Eve by burning scarecrows and old furniture in a bonfire.
- In the Netherlands, it is traditional to drop a piece of coal, a coin, and a piece of bread into a jar of water and then freeze it. On New Year’s Day, the contents of the jar are thawed and the shapes that they have taken are interpreted as symbols of the coming year.
- In Russia, it is customary to celebrate New Year’s Eve with a lavish feast that includes dishes like caviar, blini, and vodka.
- In Ukraine, for new years eve, it is customary to celebrate with a toast like in the United States. This year (2022) in particular the spirits of the Ukrainian people seemed in high spirits in Kyiv despite the power outages. Historically the celebrations were more complex.
TRADITIONAL NEW YEAR’S EVE AND NEW YEAR’S DAY MEALS FROM AROUND THE WORLD:
- In Japan, a traditional New Year’s meal is osechi ryori, a selection of small, beautifully presented dishes that are served in special boxes called jubako. The dishes are typically made from ingredients that have a long shelf life and are meant to be eaten cold. Examples include boiled shrimp, rolled omelette, and grilled fish.
- In Italy, Italians eat Lentils for New Year’s eve dinner for good financial luck in the new Year. The lentils symbolize coins.
- In the United States, black-eyed peas and collard greens are often served on New Year’s Day for good luck. The black-eyed peas are thought to represent coins, and the collard greens are thought to represent paper money.
- In the Philippines, it is traditional to eat 12 grapes at midnight on New Year’s Eve, one for each stroke of the clock. Each grape is thought to represent a month of the coming year.
- In Spain and Latin America, it is traditional to eat lentils on New Year’s Day, as they are thought to bring good fortune and wealth in the new year.
- In many parts of Europe, it is traditional to serve pork on New Year’s Day, as the pig is a symbol of prosperity and good luck.
- In Denmark, it is traditional to serve a dish called “Stegt flæsk med persillesovs” on New Year’s Eve. It is made with slices of fried pork belly served with parsley sauce.