New Year’s Eve is a time to remember the old and look forward to the new. For many, it is a time to say good riddance to the old year and pray for good luck in the new. Across the globe, people ring in the new year with various traditions, many of which involve drinking alcohol to bring in the New Year and hangovers on January 1st. However, while most Americans find a place to party, laugh with friends, and imbibe, people in other parts of the world carry on traditions that may seem strange to us, though many of those also include drinking alcohol.
So, we say a fond farewell to 2013 and bring in the new year with hopes that life will improve for everyone around the world and that we may see some semblance of peace and prosperity in 2014. In honor of the coming New Year, here are the top ten New Year’s Eve traditions from around the world.
Top Ten New Year’s Eve Traditions
At midnight on New Year’s Eve, it’s customary for Spaniards to quickly eat 12 uvas (grapes) – one at each stroke of the clock. Each grape signifies good luck for one month of the new year. In cities across Spain, revelers congregate in the main squares to gobble their grapes together while also passing around bottles of cava (what tradition would be complete without alcohol?).
Danes ring in the New Year by hurling old glasses and plates against the doors of friends’ and relatives’ houses. Some Danes also stand on chairs and then jump off them as a group at midnight. Leaping into the new year is supposed to banish bad spirits and bring good luck
The faithful in Japan wear a costume of the next year’s zodiac animal (in 2014 it will be the horse) to the local temple, where bells chime a sacred 108 times.
7. South Africa
In what might be the most dangerous celebration in the world, residents of Johannesburg throw old appliances out the window.
Round shapes, which represent coins, are thought to symbolize wealth and prosperity for the coming Some Filipino families do more than display the fruits – they eat exactly 12 fruits at midnight.
5. Central and South America
In Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador, it is considered lucky to wear special underwear on New Year’s Eve. In many of the cities, such as Sao Paulo and La Paz, market vendors come out in full force a few days before New Year’s Eve to display their selections of brightly colored underpants. The most popular colors are yellow and red: yellow is supposed to bring luck and money and red is supposed to bring love.
Russians write down a wish on a piece of paper, burn it, throw the ashes in to a glass of champagne, and then drink it before 12:01. The wish is supposed to come true.
Every single year, no matter what other traditions they observe, Germans take a break to watch the British show “Dinner for One” at midnight. Though it began in 1972, the origin of the tradition is unknown. It has become so popular that even the punch line “same procedure every year” now is a catch phrase in Germany.
Ecuador has a unique custom of making scarecrows and then burning them at midnight. They fill the scarecrows with newspapers and pieces of wood and then dress them up. As the start of the New Year approaches, everyone gathers outside their homes and each family burns their scarecrow. This supposedly destroys all the bad things that happened in the previous 12 months. The scarecrow also scares bad luck and fills the New Year with good luck and happiness.
1. Ecuador (again)
Perhaps the strangest New Years tradition is teenage boys dressing up as females. They dress as viudas (widows) of the Año Viejos (old year) by accentuating their breast and butt areas with pillows or balloons. They then dance provocatively and beg for money, causing traffic jams around the city.