Around the globe, the New Year is welcomed with many varied traditions. Here are a few - which international custom will you adopt?
In Spain it’s customary to eat 12 grapes, one at each stroke of the midnight bell. It’s believed that each grape represents a month of luck in the new year. People gather in city plazas to eat grapes and drink Cava (Spanish sparkling wine).
The Danes smash plates against doors as the new year begins; it’s believed that doing so banishes bad spirits for another year. In Panama, effigies called munecas are burned during New Year’s Eve celebrations; the burning figures represent the year past and are meant to prevent evil spirits from appearing in the new year.
Onions symbolize rebirth in Greece and are hung on the door to symbolize the birth of a new year. Children are awakened on New Year’s Day by their parents tapping their head with the onion!
Columbians carry empty suitcases around the block, with the hope that the new year will be filled with travel.
Hogmanay is the name of the New Year celebration in Scotland. It’s traditional for the first person crossing the hearth of a home in the New Year should do so bearing a gift, for luck. Some Scots light giant bonfires and parade around the fire carrying giant sticks lit at the end - to symbolize the sun and as a purification for the coming year.
Filipinos believe that round things symbolize coins and will bring wealth during the new year. Many wear polka dots on New Year’s Eve and display round fruits. As in Spain, 12 grapes are eaten at midnight.
In Finland, people throw molten metal into containers of water, and then interpret the shape of the metal to predict the future year. Hearts or circles (ring shape) predict a marriage, a pig shape predicts plentiful food, while a ship shape represents travel.
Brazilians wear New Year’s Underwear; red is thought to ensure love in the new year while yellow is believed to bring wealth.
Soba noodles are eaten just before midnight in Japan. The Toshikoshi noodle is a long buckwheat noodle; a rough translation of the noodle’s name is “year crossing noodle” and eating it before midnight symbolizes crossing from one year to the next. Chewing the soft noodles is thought to signify a letting go of any regrets from the old year and starting the new year fresh.
Italians believe that lentils symbolize luck and prosperity. They are frequently prepared with rich cuts of pork which represents the bounty of the land.
And finally in Portugal, it’s customary to eat 12 raisins - and make a wish with each.