We've all seen the New Year's Eve fireworks, gotten plastered on champagne, and watched the tv as our smartphones tick from one year to the next. But there is more to New Year's Eve than pretty lights. We did some research to find out what traditions we wanted to try this year!
Austria: this one's not for vegetarians, vegans, or kosher eaters! Austria's favorite tradition involves a crispy suckling pig, pig shaped chocolates, and more feasting to bring luck.
Colombia: the people of Columbia are some pretty superstitious folks! Wearing yellow panties on the 31st for a profitable year, a pocket full of lentils for good luck, and blowing up a life size doll with your old clothes to leave something behind are all part of the country's flare. But our favorite is the travel superstition where families and friends who wish to travel in the coming year take a suitcase in each hand and run around the block as fast as they can. The faster you go, the more likely you will travel.
Denmark: if you wake up to find your front door littered with broken plates and food remnants, do not be alarmed! This is all in good fun for the new year. Those plates come as a symbol of well wishing and friendship. At midnight, you may also hear a loud thump from your neighbors. Tradition says to stand on a chair and jump off as the clock strikes twelve to welcome the new year. And all those fireworks? Apparently they scare the evil ghosts away!
Egypt: new year, new closet. Sounds good to me! Even the women who usually wear black come out in their new bright attire for the occasion. If you're a kid, you're in luck too! Boys get candy figurines of men on horses, while girls get a candy lady in a nice dress.
El Salvador: put the speakers on blast because in El Salvador, New Year's is a time to celebrate in style! Locals go shopping for a new outfit to wear at the bangin' salsa street party, where neighbors wish each other happy times to come. Some people follow the Spanish tradition of eating grapes (see below) but with their own twist of making a wish with each grape, while others may crack an egg into a glass of water, letting it sit throughout the year as a way to predict the forthcoming year.
England: keeping the back door open to let out the old year is only the beginning of an English new year. To keep bad luck at bay, burn a bush. This could serve as a pretty nice environment for a party! Bonfire and all. Oh, and make sure to make your first step into the new year with your lucky foot ;)
Germany: leave a little but of that fancy New Years dinner on your plate until midnight. It's a symbol for plenty of food in the coming year. Something you still may find in modern day German homes is the melted lead being dropped into water. The shapes that result from the hardened lead are used to tell the future events of the year to come.
Iceland: this chilly island turns into Dr. Doolittle for New Year's. According to tradition, seals take on human form for the night, cows begin to talk, elves move into new homes, and the dead come out for a visit.
Italy: of course this one is all about love. Wear red undies for good luck in love and join in on a massive kissing session at St. Mark's Square. <3
- Japan: Japanese New Year is all about new beginnings. Homes are cleaned, paperwork is finished, and parties with traditional Japanese food are held to forget the previous year. In the evening, soba noodles are served to represent a long life as well as lucky "osechi" foods, usually served in a box. The first day of the year is spent with much care, making sure the "firsts" are good; first bath, first writing, etc. Learn more of Japan's complex traditions here.
- Norway: it's basically Halloween: send your kids out caroling New Years melodies in return for candy, dress up and visit friends and family in return for a drink. Eat yummy rice pudding with an almond in it to symbolize a sweet coming year. If you get the almond on the first bite, you'll have a lucky year.
- Philippines: circles are considered good luck. That's why on New Year's you'll see people wearing polka dots and eating round fruits to bring prosperity.
- Peru: holding a grudge from last year? Fight it out! According to Peruvians, it's the best way to start the year on a clean slate.
- Russia/Siberia: jumping into a frozen lake sounds like a death wish to most people... but if you're a man in Russia, this is a totally normal new years tradition. In some parts of the country, you even take a tree with you to leave behind under the ice. Another tradition from this highly supersticious land is to write a wish on a piece of paper. Before the clock strikes twelve you must burn your paper, dusting the burnt pieces into a champagne glass and drink up by 12:01!
- Slovakia: like the Danish, Slovaks are all about scaring away the evil with a riot of noisemakers and lights. Though many Slovaks spend the night in a cabin, that sure doesn't stop them from having a great feast!
- Spain: the Spanish are probably most famous for their grape eating tradition. There are a few variations to the grape eating tradition, though most famous are: 1.) Eat one grape per chime as the clock strikes twelve. This way you get to start the new year with a good laugh. 2.) At midnight, pick 12 grapes one by one and pop them in your mouth. The order of the grapes falls in line with the months of the year. If you get a sour third grape, you may be in for a disappointing March.