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New Year’s Eve Traditions Around the World

With 2021 coming to an end and bidding farewell to another year passing by, we look forward to ushering in the new year – 2022 with ebullience.

Some of you may choose to have a quiet night watching your favorite movies, while some others may make your way into the new year by partying into the night on New Year’s Eve. Some of us may even have certain traditions we follow each year to welcome the new year.

Similarly, people or countries across the world observe certain traditions. These may have been passed down by the previous generations for good luck and the wellbeing of the people in the New Year. Let’s take a look at some interesting New Year’s Eve traditions that people observe around the world.

Denmark

Representative image via Freepik (Man vector created by freepik – www.freepik.com)

Denmark sure does end the year with a smash! People in the country take pride in the number of broken dishes outside of their door by the end of New Year’s Eve (well, unless of course, you’re the one sweeping them). It is a Danish tradition for people to go around and break dishware on the doorsteps of their friends and families.

Some say that the tradition is a means of leaving any aggression and ill-will behind before the New Year begins. The more shards or bigger piles of broken plates there are in front of your home the next day, the luckier (you will be in the upcoming year) and the more well-liked you are.

Spain

Representative image of Fresh red and green grapes in wooden basket. High quality photo via Freepik (Food photo created by azerbaijan_stockers – www.freepik.com))

Spain’s tradition involves eating grapes. The locals will eat exactly twelve grapes at the stroke of midnight. This is to honor a tradition that started in the late 19th century as in the 1800s, vine growers in the Alicante area came up with this tradition. It was a means of selling more grapes toward the end of the year.

However, the sweet celebration quickly caught on and today Spaniards enjoy eating one grape for each of the first twelve bell strikes after midnight. The tradition is observed in the hopes that eating the grapes will bring about a year of good fortune and prosperity.

Greece

No, the tradition in Greece does not involve eating but the Greeks do believe that onions are a symbol of rebirth, as per the GreekBoston.com. They hang the vegetables on their doors. Greek culture has long associated this food with the idea of development and therefore they hang them on their door to promote growth throughout the new year “as all the odorous onion ever seemingly wants is to plant its roots and keep growing”.

Another tradition in Greece involves pomegranate which in Greek mythology symbolizes fertility, life, and abundance. Hence, the fruit has come to be associated with good fortune in modern Greece where it is customary for Greeks to smash a pomegranate against the door of their house just after midnight on New Year’s Eve. It is said that the number of pomegranate seeds that end up scattered is directly correlated with the amount of good luck to come in the coming year.

Japan

Japan’s New Year tradition is a ritual known in Japanese culture as toshikoshi soba or year-crossing noodles. In Japanese culture, it is customary to welcome the new year with a bowl of soba noodles though nobody is entirely sure where toshikoshi soba first came from. Many believe that the soba’s thin shape and long length are meant to signify long and healthy life. It is also believed that because the buckwheat plant used to make soba noodles is so resilient and strong that the Japanese eat it on New Year’s Eve to signal or indicate their strength.

Ecuador

via Prefectura de la Provincia del Guayas (Atlas Obscura)

New Year’s Eve festivities in Ecuador are lit (quite literally). They light up bonfires with effigies at the center of each. Most often these effigies represent politicians. They also represent pop culture icons, other figures from the year prior. These burnings are called the ‘año viejo’ or ‘old year’. They are held at the end of every year to cleanse the world of all the bad from the past twelve months. This tradition is observed to make room for the good to come.

Finland

Uudenvuoden tinan valamista. EASTPRESS / LEHTIKUVA Seppo Sirkka

Photo: Seppo Sirkka/Lehtikuva (this is FINLAND)

The Finnish people predict the coming year by casting molten tin into a container of water wherein miniature tin horseshoes are melted in a pan, poured into a bucket of cold water, and as soon as the tin hits the water, it cools and solidifies again.

After hardening, the metal takes shapes and the interpretation of these shapes is what comes next. This interpretation is to predict a person’s future. The people predict their health, wealth, or happiness.  The shape of a heart or ring means a wedding. Meanwhile, a ship predicts traveling. A pig declares there will be plenty of food in the upcoming year!

Colombia

In hopes of having the coming year filled with travel, residents of Colombia grab empty suitcases. They walk or take a stroll around the block.

Philippines

The Philippines sees round shapes all over the place on New Year’s Eve. Many families have been displaying piles of round fruit on their dining tables as the round shapes are representatives of coins. They symbolize prosperity in the coming year. Some families eat exactly twelve round fruits at midnight (with grapes being the most common), furthermore, many also wear polka dots for luck.

Turkey

People in Turkey consider it good luck to sprinkle salt on their doorstep. This is done as soon as the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Day and like many other New Year’s Eve traditions around the globe, this one is thought to be promoting both peace and prosperity throughout the new year.

Estonia

A typical Estonian New Year’s spread. (Image via BUCKETLISTEVENTS)

If you’re a foodie, you’ll love celebrating New Year’s Eve in Estonia as the people there believe eating seven, nine, or twelve meals will bring about good things in the new year. This is because those numbers are considered lucky throughout the country and don’t worry if you can’t finish your food. People often purposefully leave food on their plates. This is done to feed their visiting family members, the ones who visit in their spirit form.

 

you may also read: Christmas Traditions Around The World

Featured image adapted via Freepik (New year vector created by stories – www.freepik.com)

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