Each and every year, at the end of the year, Americans gather together in celebration for the New Year. Even though we each have our own corky traditions, it’s about the same from house to house in the United States. Champagne, confetti and party hats are sold off the shelves in just about every store. Televisions are turned on full volume for the party music and celebrations shown across the nation. But have you ever stopped to think about what everyone else across the globe is doing? Does their calendar even align with the calendar most Americans use? As the sun sets on one side of the planet, it rises in another and people celebrate all the same. Below are some of the coolest and strangest, depending on who you ask, traditions and celebrations that happen every New Year around the world.
- United States of America
The first New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square in New York City was held in 1904. Fireworks were a staple the first two years until they were banned in the city. Fireworks are now replaced with a giant ball just under 12,000 pounds that lights the street and slowly drops along the last minute of the year. Celebrations are traditionally accompanied by champagne and kisses at midnight to bring good luck into the New Year.
Although the Chinese New Year is a spring festival taking place over a period of 10-15 days, the good luck traditions aren’t any less exciting. Each New Year is marked by one of the twelve zodiac animals, alternating each year. As the Chinese zodiac symbols recur every 12 years, your zodiac symbol will recur when you’re 12, 24, 36, etc. It’s said that on those years you will have bad luck and to avoid this you must always wear something red. During the festivities, the color red makes more than one mark on the Chinese culture. Citizens are often seen painting their doors red to symbolize happiness and good fortune. Red envelopes with money inside are also exchanged to ward off evil spirits. The most superstitious Chinese tradition for the New Year is to hide all sharp objects like knives and scissors to avoid anyone cutting themselves over the celebration period.
As the New Year approaches it’s not uncommon to wonder what lies ahead. For countries like Germany and the few surrounding, molten lead holds the answer to their questions. Heat up lead in a spoon and then when it’s melted pour it into a cool glass of water. It’s said that the shape the lead takes once it’s hardened will determine what kind of year you’ll have. Although the shapes are open to interpretation, some traditional beliefs include heart shaped meaning love, circular shaped means good luck, anchor shaped means you’ll need help along your yearly endeavors, and a cross shape means you’ll see a loved one’s sad demise.
Ever smash a plate on your neighbor’s door? Yeah, me neither. But, for the Danish this is a yearly occurrence that doesn’t make your neighbors hate you. Smashing plates is a symbol of loyal friends and whoever has the most smashed plates, glass, cups and more is considered to be the luckiest because they have so many loyal friends. Another tradition expressed every midnight is jumping off chairs. At the stroke of midnight, in unison, everyone jumps off the chair they’re standing on—literally jumping into the New Year.
If you don’t like grapes, then Spain is not the place for you on New Year’s Eve. The twelve grapes of luck are an old tradition throughout the country where at the stroke of midnight everyone eats twelve grapes off of a stick in representation for the twelve new months ahead. In most cities there is a bell that strikes twelve times and people eat one grape with every bell stroke. If there isn’t a bell, you can catch a TV broadcast of the festivities.
Just across the border in Mexico you’ll find a ton of residents carrying around empty suitcases on New Year’s Eve. These suitcases symbolize the many adventures and travels ahead in the New Year. Keeping their suitcases empty will leave room for all the new fun.
Also known as Hogmanay, the Scottish New Year is a celebration that takes place under the second day in January. The most popular tradition is the first-footing. The first person to enter the house after midnight, ideally a tall, dark man, brings gifts and good fortune to the household. If you’ve recently had brain damage, you might consider joining in with locals as they take a cool dip in the sea. Locals gather for the chilly event to help raise money for local charities and have some giggles along the way.
- Puerto Rico
Rolling a coconut around your house and then throwing it into the ocean is considered good luck in Puerto Rico. Children also take buckets of water and toss them out of their windows at the stroke of midnight in representation of washing away evil spirits.
At the stroke of midnight, Japanese residents will hear bells ring across the nation exactly 108 times, representing the 108 earthly temptations one must overcome to reach N The Japanese also slurp down extra-long noodles in symbolization of longevity.
- South Africa
If throwing old furniture out your window is your idea of fun then you might want to make the trip to South Africa. Be careful walking down the streets on New Year’s Eve, because citizens will actually toss out the old in favor of the new. Authorities have reported seeing large appliances falling from high rise apartments and so much more. If you’re looking to laugh, it’s worth a Google search.