Interesting New Year’s Celebrations From Around the World

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The big night is here. As we close out 2019 in our own American way of a toast and a kiss, it’s a good thing to remember that we are not alone on this planet. Other cultures and peoples celebrate the new year in their own special (and different) way. Here are some unique New Year’s celebrations from all over the world.

  1. It’s a grape a second in Spain. When the clock strikes midnight is when the fun begins. Celebrants always have their grapes at the ready and consume one with each chime of the clock. Each grape represents good luck for each month of the year. If you can eat them all that’s a whole year of greatness coming your way!
  2. Attack of the Flying Saucers. In Denmark, residents start the new year by throwing old plates and glasses against the doors of family and friends to scare off evil spirits (and probably scare the bejeezus out of Aunt Helen). At the stroke of midnight, residents jump off chairs together signifying the “leap” into the future.
  3. Underwear for the Future. In Brazil, it is believed that the color of your underwear on New Year’s Eve will bring good luck in the future. Red will bring passion and pink will bring love. Yellow is associated with money, blue with harmony, green with health, purple with inspiration, and orange with professional success.
  4. Don’t Leave without your Suitcase. In Colombia, residents will take an empty suitcase (or briefcase) on a journey around town to welcome in a travel-filled new year. Hmmm…it might be worth dusting off the old handbag.
  5. Grin and Bear It. The bears are out and about in Romania on New Year’s Eve. In some of the rural towns, residents dress up in bear costumes and dance from house to house to ward off evil spirits. What started out as small is gaining popularity in the country.
  6. Great Balls of Fire. In Scotland, New Year’s is one of the country’s biggest celebrations. Called Hogmanay, the celebration runs for a week with multiple different traditions taken from those of the Viking invaders of the past. One such practice is “first-footing” where the first person that crosses the threshold of a home in the new year should bring a gift for luck. The most flamboyant demonstration however, comes from the town of Stonehaven where residents create balls of fire and march through the town swinging them wildly to purify the coming year.
  7. Burning Away the Past. In Panama and Ecuador, residents burn effigies of well-known people, celebrities or simply scarecrows to clean the slate for the coming year. The idea is to welcome in a new year and to give people another chance to right their behavior. (Maybe they should work with Scotland and really make a show of it.)
  8. The Vegetable of Renew. The main component of the Grecian New Year’s celebration is the onion. When hung upon the outside of the door, it symbolizes rebirth to all those within. On the morning of New Year’s Day, parents wake their children by softly tapping them on the head with an onion.
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