In most countries, New Year’s Day may begin at the moment the bell strikes at midnight on January 1, but the celebrations undertaken to usher in the new year at different corners of the globe couldn’t be more unique. Let’s take a look at the customs in different countries.
1. Spain: Eating Grapes For Good Luck
In Spain, the locals will eat 12 grapes at midnight to commemorate the tradition that began in the late 19th century. As early as the 1800s, grape growers in the Alicante region proposed this tradition as a way to sell more grapes at the end of the year, but this sweet celebration quickly became popular. Today, Spaniards enjoy eating one grape for each of the first 12 bell strikes after midnight in the hopes that this will bring about a year of good fortune and prosperity.
2. Scotland: First Footing
In Scotland, the day before January 1 is so important that there’s even an official name for it: Hogmanay. On this day, the Scottish observe many traditions, but one of their most famous is first footing. According to the belief of the Scots, if you wish to have good luck in the coming year, the first person to cross the threshold of your house after midnight on New Year’s Day should be a black-haired man. Traditionally, these people brought coal, salt, shortbread, and whiskey as gifts, all of which further promoted the idea of having good luck.
3.The Netherlands: Chowing Down On Oliebollen
The reasoning behind this Dutch New Year’s Eve tradition is slightly odd, to say the least. Ancient Germanic tribes would eat these pieces of deep-fried dough during the Yule so that when Germanic goddess Perchta, better known as Perchta the Belly Slitter, tried to cut their stomachs open and fill them with trash (a punishment for those who hadn’t sufficiently partaken in yuletide cheer), the fat from the dough would cause her sword to slide right off. Today, oliebollen are enjoyed on New Year’s Eve, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a Dutch food vendor in the winter months who isn’t selling these doughnut-like balls.
4. Russia: Planting Underwater Trees
It has been a Russian holiday tradition for two divers, aptly named Father Frost and the Ice Maiden, to venture into a frozen Lake Baikal, the world’s largest freshwater lake, and take a New Year Tree—typically decorated spruce—more than 100 feet below the surface. Although the temperature on New Year’s Eve in Russia is usually far below freezing, people still come from all over the world to participate in this freezing festival.
5. Brazil: Throwing White Flowers Into the Ocean
If you happen to be celebrating New Year’s Eve in Brazil, don’t be surprised when you find white flowers and candles scattered in the ocean. In this South American country, it is common for citizens to go to the coast to worship on New Year’s Eve. It is said that Ye Mojia is a major water god who is said to control the ocean to pray for her blessings in the coming year.
6. Italy: Wearing Red Underwear
Italians have a tradition of wearing red underwear to ring in the new year. In Italian culture, the color red is associated with fertility, and so people wear it under their clothes in the hopes that it will help them conceive in the coming year.
7. Greece: Hanging Onions
This New Year’s Eve tradition has nothing to do with vampires. Rather, the Greeks believe that onions are a symbol of rebirth, and so they hang the pungent vegetable on their doors in order to promote growth throughout the new year. For a long time, Greek culture has associated this kind of food with the concept of development, because all scented onions seem to want to take root and continue to grow.
8. Japan: Slurping Some Soba Noodles
In Japanese culture, it is customary to welcome the new year with a bowl of soba noodles in a ritual known as Toshi Koshi soba, or year-crossing noodles. Though nobody is sure where Toshi Koshi soba first came from, it is believed that the soba’s thin shape and long length is meant to signify a long and healthy life. Many folks also believe that because the buckwheat plant used to make soba noodles is so resilient, people eat the pasta on New Year’s Eve to signify their strength.
9. Czech Republic: Cutting Apples
Czechs prefer to use Apple to predict their future fate on New Year’s Eve. The night before the start of the new year, the fruit was cut in half. It is said that the shape of the apple core determines the fate of everyone around it. If the apple’s core is like a star, then everyone will meet again in happiness and health soon-but if it looks like a cross, then someone should be sick at the New Year’s Eve party.
10. Ecuador: Burning Scarecrows
In Ecuador, New’s Year Eve festivities are lit up (quite literally) by bonfires. At the center of each of these bonfires are effigies, most often representing politicians, pop culture icons, and other figures from the year prior. These burnings of the “año Viejo,” or “old year,” as they’re called, are held at the end of every year to cleanse the world of all the bad from the past 12 months and make room for the good to come.
As the New year approaches, MyDinosaurs Team wish you all a Happy New Year! Wishing every day of the new year to be filled with success, happiness, and prosperity for you.