5 More New Year Traditions From Around The World

Italy: Wearing Red Underwear. Italians have a tradition of wearing red underwear to ring in the new year. In Italian culture, the color red is associated with fertility, and so people wear it under their clothes in the hopes that it will help them conceive in the coming year.

Greece: Hanging Onions. No, this New Year’s Eve tradition has nothing to do with vampires. Rather, the Greeks believe that onions are a symbol of rebirth, and so they¬†hang the pungent vegetable¬†on their doors in order to promote growth throughout the new year. Greek culture has long associated this food with the idea of development, seeing as all the odorous onion ever seemingly wants is to plant its roots and keep growing.

Chile: Chilling in Cemeteries. In Chile, New Year’s Eve masses are held not at church,¬†but in cemeteries. This change of scenery allows for people to sit with their deceased family members and include them in the New Year’s Eve festivities.

Japan: Slurping Some Soba Noodles. In Japanese culture, it is customary to welcome the new year with a bowl of soba noodles in a ritual known as¬†toshikoshi soba, or year-crossing noodles. Though nobody is entirely sure where toshikoshi soba first came from, it is believed that the soba’s thin¬†shape and long length is meant to signify a long and healthy life. Many folks also believe that because the buckwheat plant used to make soba noodles is so resilient, people eat the pasta on New Year’s Eve to signify their strength.

Denmark: Smashing Plates. In Denmark, people take pride in the number of¬†broken dishes outside of their door¬†by the end of New Year’s Eve. It’s a Danish tradition to throw china at your friends’ and neighbors’ front doors on New Year’s Eve‚ÄĒsome say it’s a means of leaving any aggression and ill-will behind before the New Year begins‚ÄĒand it is said that the bigger your pile of broken dishes, the more luck you will have in the upcoming year.

5 New Year Traditions From Around The World

Spain: Eating Grapes For Good Luck. In Spain, locals will eat exactly 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight to honor a tradition that started in the late 19th century. Back in the 1800s, vine growers in the Alicante area came up with this tradition as a means of selling more grapes toward the end of the year, but the sweet celebration quickly caught on. Today, Spaniards enjoy eating one grape for each of the first 12 bell strikes after midnight in the hopes that this will bring about a year of good fortune and prosperity.

Scotland: First Footing. In Scotland, the day before January 1 is so important that there’s even an official name for it: Hogmanay. On this day, the Scottish observe many traditions, but easily one of their most famous is¬†first footing. According to Scottish beliefs, the first person who crosses through the threshold of your house after midnight on New Year’s Day should be a dark-haired male if you wish to have good luck in the coming year. Traditionally, these men come bearing gifts of coal, salt, shortbread, and whiskey, all of which further contribute to the idea of having good fortune.

The Netherlands: Chowing Down On Oliebollen. The reasoning behind this Dutch New Year’s Eve tradition is slightly odd, to say the least. Ancient Germanic tribes would eat¬†these pieces of deep-fried dough¬†during the Yule so that when¬†Germanic goddess Perchta,¬†better known as Perchta the Belly Slitter, tried to cut their stomachs open and fill them with trash (a punishment for those who hadn’t sufficiently partaken in yuletide cheer), the fat from the dough would cause her sword to slide right off. Today, oliebollen are enjoyed on New Year’s Eve, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a Dutch food vendor in the winter months who isn’t selling these doughnut-like balls.

Russia: Planting Underwater Trees. For the past 25 years or so, it has been a Russian holiday tradition for two divers, aptly named Father Frost and the Ice Maiden, to venture into¬†a frozen Lake Baikal, the world’s largest freshwater lake, and take a New Year Tree‚ÄĒtypically a decorated spruce‚ÄĒmore than 100 feet below the surface. Though the temperature is normally well below freezing in Russia on New Year’s Eve, people travel from all over the world to partake in this frozen f√™te.

Brazil: Throwing White Flowers Into the Ocean. If you happen to be in Brazil for New Year’s Eve, don’t be surprised to find the oceans littered with white flowers and candles. In the South American country, it is commonplace for citizens to take to the shores on New Year’s Eve in order to make¬†offerings to Yemoja, a major water deity who is said to control the seas, to elicit her blessings for the year to come.