From breaking plates to drinking a wish to wearing pink underwear, Musement takes a look at ten different New Year traditions around the world.
As one year comes to a close and we gear up to embrace a new one, we couldn’t help but wonder about the different new year traditions practiced by various citizens of the world. From quirky to rowdy to calm, here is a look at the practices found in ten different countries across the globe.
To celebrate the new year, Italians in Rome and beyond feast on a hearty meal of cotechino, a creamy pig-hoof sausage flavored with cloves and nutmeg, with lentils. The cotechino represents abundance while the lentils are believed to attract affluence and good luck for the next 12 months.
Muscovites and their compatriots jot down a new year wish on a piece of paper. They burn it then add the ashes are added to their Champagne, which they drink at the stroke of midnight. If they don’t finish their bubbly in 60 seconds, their wishes won’t come true.
It’s rare to find someone in Madrid, or in all of Spain for that matter, who doesn’t eat 12 grapes, one of each stroke, at the 12 strokes of midnight. Not only is this a tradition, but it’s also a superstition, as eating the 12 grapes guarantees 12 lucky months in the forthcoming year.
In addition to sporting head-to-toe white to ward off bad spirits, it’s also customary for Brazilians in Rio de Janeiro, or anywhere on the coast, to take a dip in the ocean and jump over seven waves, making one wish per hurdle. Don’t cry for the inlanders; jumping three times on their right foot or climbing down a stool right foot first are acceptable substitutions.
In Copenhagen and beyond, the Danes have a New Year’s tradition that lands on the rowdy end of the spectrum. Firstly, they literally jump into the New Year by standing on a chair and jumping on to the ground at the stroke of midnight, which seems more or less innocuous, but there’s an aggressive side to the festivities. It’s customary to keep any chipped/broken tableware in a safe place year-round and come New Year’s Eve, break them against the front door of your best friend’s house. They say the more broken tableware sitting on your doorstep in the morning, the more loved you are.
In Zurich and all around Switzerland, the Swiss believe that dropping ice cream on the floor (repeatedly!) will bring you good luck and affluence in the forthcoming year. We can’t help but wonder about who gets the seemingly less fortunate task of clean up.
The Argentines have two very particular habits when it comes to the new year. Firstly, it is practically compulsory to feast on beans to provide job security to those happy with their current positions, or to manifest a better role on the horizon for those looking to make a move. Also, wearing a brand new pair of pink underwear out and about is practiced by those who hope to get lucky (pun not intended) in love during the upcoming year.
At midnight, Germans nosh on pfannkuchens a rolled, baked pastry filled with jam or liqueur at midnight. A victim of a practical joke may receive one stuffed with mustard or some other unexpected spicy flavor. On the non-food front, lead is considered quite favorable and a molten form of this element is poured into cold water and whatever shape the lead takes predicts the year ahead. For example, a heart indicates love while a cross signifies death.
In Tallinn, the Estonians eat at least seven meals (or nine or 12) on New Year’s Day as this promises abundance in the new year. These are lucky numbers in Estonia and the number of meals you consume predicts that you’ll have the strength of as many men for the upcoming year, which is, of course, seen as favorable.
Joya no kane, or the tolling of the temple bells, is a traditional Japanese New Year’s Eve tradition The bells chime 108 times, one for each of the 108 anxieties/worldly desires that characterize Buddhism, cleansing people of their sins from the previous year. In downtown Tokyo, the Watched Night Bell is a major attraction. Bells toll 107 times before midnight, and once after. They also snack on some prepared especially for the holiday.