A quick look at some different traditions around the world for New Year’s Eve:
SCARECROW BURNING (ECUADOR) – Over in Ecuador, many citizens set fire to scarecrows filled with paper at midnight on New Year’s Eve, as well as burning any old photographs that represent bad memories. According to age-old tradition, it’s thought doing so helps to banish any ill-fortune or bad things that have happened over the last 12 months.
BROKEN PLATES (DENMARK) – on New Year’s Eve the Danes throw unused plates that have been saved up throughout the year at the front doors of family and friends for good luck. The more plates you find outside your house, the more luck you’ll have in the New Year, apparently.
108 BELLS RINGING (JAPAN) – This Buddhist tradition is believed to banish human sins, bringing good luck to all.
WEARING COLOURED UNDERWEAR (SOUTH AMERICA) – Those who want to find love wear red underpants for New Year, whilst those hoping for wealth should opt for yellow. If you’re just looking for peace, white pants should do the trick.
ROUND THINGS (PHILIPPINES) – The Filipinos hope to bring prosperity and wealth to the coming year by surrounding themselves with round things on New Year’s Eve. From coins to grapes, each item represents wealth and success.
THROWING FURNITURE OUT OF THE WINDOW (ITALY) – Over in Italy, many locals throw old furniture (soft items, you’ll be pleased to know) out of the window to symbolize a fresh start for the upcoming year. From cushions to blankets, anything that no longer brings them joy will be chucked outside.
TOSSING PAPER OUT OF THE WINDOW (ARGENTINA) – After shredding all of their old documents and papers, the Argentines then throw them out of the window to look like clouds of confetti. According to custom, they shred everything before the curtain falls on the year, to symbolize leaving the past behind.
TALKING TO ANIMALS (ROMANIA) – farmers spend their New Year’s communicating with their livestock. Apparently, if they succeed, good luck comes their way.
- TWELVE GRAPES OF LUCK (SPAIN) – In Spain and some Latin American countries, one New Year’s tradition is to eat 12 grapes, one for each month of the coming year, to secure prosperity.
- POURING LEAD (GERMANY) – people melt small pieces of lead in a spoon over a candle, then pour the liquid into cold water. The bizarre shapes from the Bleigießen (lead pouring) are supposed to reveal what the year ahead will bring. If the lead forms a ball, luck will roll one’s way, while the shape of a crown means wealth; a cross signifies death and a star will bring happiness.
- FIRST FOOTING (SCOTLAND) – In Scottish folklore, the “first-foot,” also known as quaaltagh or qualtagh, is the first person crossing the threshold after midnight. A tall, dark-haired male with gifts like coins, coal, bread, salt, and a “wee dram” of whiskey, is thought to bring the best luck for the house. The tradition probably dates back to the Viking days when big, blond strangers (commonly armed with axes and swords) at the door meant trouble, and in some places, first footing by a fair-haired male is still regarded as unlucky.
- MASS KISSING (VENICE) – on New Year’s Eve in Piazza San Marco, tens of thousands of locals and tourists gather for fireworks, a light show (which sees “hearts” raining down), and “a kiss in Venice.”
- POTATO DROP (BOISE) – the people of downtown Boise will welcome the new year by dropping a giant spud from the sky.
- MISTLETOE AND BREAD (IRELAND) – Single women in Ireland sometimes place mistletoe (a berry associated with fertility in European mythology) under their pillows. They then burn it in a fire the next day in the hope of luring in love over the year.
- CARP SCALES (GERMANY) – People in Germany enjoy a traditional meal of Silvesterkarpfen (or ‘New Year’s Carp’) on New Year’s Eve. It’s also considered lucky to keep a scale from the carp in your wallet throughout the year to bring wealth and luck. However, removing the scale is seen as removing the luck.
These traditions make our tradition of eating Thai food and watching Family Man kind of boring.
But it’s our tradition, and I’m sticking by it…