If it is customary for your New Year celebrations to be a party with friends or a family gathering, you might want to shake things up a bit and introduce some of these New Year traditions practiced around the world into your own society. Unlike Christmas, New Year is observed by most cultures, even if not all at the same time. These New Year traditions I’m presenting here are associated with January 1st rather than the Asian new years or religious-specific New Years.
1. In Ireland, They Place Mistletoe under Their Pillow
Are you single and hoping to find your knight in shining armor? You might enjoy one of the Irish New Year traditions. On 31st December, place mistletoe, ivy or holly under your pillow before going to bed. This will give you luck in finding your dream husband.
2. Brazilians Give Offerings to Yemenja, the Goddess of the Sea
Thousands of Brazilians carry out one of the most charming New Year customs even in our days, hoping Yemenja will make their wishes come true. The tradition mainly involves throwing white flowers into the ocean, but other offerings are accepted as well (the Goddess of the Sea is not a picky gal). Some examples include: lipstick, jewelry, perfume, lipstick or combs – generally, almost any objects of female vanity. I’m not sure what this says about Yemenja, but, well, if it brings us luck…
3. In Scotland, They Don’t Beat around the Bush
While some play with mistletoe hoping for love to come, the Scottish get straight to business. They make sure the first person that enters their house on the first day of the New Year is a tall, dark handsome man. According to popular belief, doing so will bring luck to the household for the next twelve years. I may not be the superstitious type, but having a dark, handsome Scottish man entering my house (be it January 1st or whenever) is definitely a sign of good luck. I’d gladly embrace such New Year’s Eve traditions - wouldn’t you? p.s. – it’s call First Footing.
4. Italians Throw Old Furniture out Their Windows!
Italians are known for their hot blood, and it seems that their New Year traditions are no exception. This has nothing to with emotions gone out of control, as one might think (those classic movie scenes where the angry girlfriend throws all of her ex’s things out the window inevitably comes to mind). The gesture, according to the Italian New Year tradition, actually symbolizes that you are ready to forget about the past and embrace the coming year, with all that it brings your way.
5. In Philippines, They Wear Polka Dots
According to local belief, round shapes bring prosperity. Thus, on New Year’s Eve in The Philippines, they dress up in polka dots, eat oranges (or any other round-shaped fruits) and fill their pockets with coins, in the hope that the coming year will be richer.
6. In Chile, They Celebrate at Their Local Cemetery
This is one of the very few New Year traditions that aren’t focused on attracting Lady Luck to your side for the coming year. Chileans celebrate New Year’s Eve at their local cemetery, in the company of their deceased loved ones. It’s a chance to feel reunited with the persons you’ve lost. This is quite a new tradition, started about 15-16 years ago, when a family in Talca jumped over the local cemetery fence to get to their recently deceased father’s grave to have a chance to spend New Year’s Eve with him again. It sounds like a heartbreaking custom, but it actually somehow brings peace into your soul and reminds you how valuable life is (which we tend to forget sometimes).
7. In Spain, They Eat Grapes for Luck
This is a cute tradition that dates back to 1909. That year saw a very successful grape harvest and the benevolent king decided to give the surplus to the people on New Year’s Eve. The custom evolved to one where 1 grape is eaten on each strike of 12 (either the clock or church bell). The belief is that if you can finish all 12 grapes before the end of the chimes you will be rewarded with 12 months of luck and happiness.
I’m sure there are plenty more New Year traditions out there. Would love to know if you have some of your own. Do please tell us about them.