New Year Traditions from Around the World

How do you celebrate New Year's? Most of the people I know go to a party or celebrate with their family at home, but have you ever looked at what some of the traditions are from around the world? There are some interesting ones.

What to Wear

What do you wear New Year's Eve? I remember days of sparkly outfits and black. However in some countries the clothes make all the difference. If you are in Chile, Ecuador, or Bolivia even the color of your underwear matters. If you are wearing yellow undies it means money in the new year and red undies means love in the coming year. In Italy they wear red underwear. In Brazil they wear bright colored underwear under white clothes. Then they go jump the waves in the ocean to welcome the new year. In the Philippines it is all about the round dots. They wear polka dots and eat round fruits. Round symbolizes prosperity. Oh and in Bulgaria some people dress as Santa Claus and give gifts to small children. And in Japan some people like to dress as the zodiacal animal for the year. (2018 is the year of the dog!)

What to Eat

In Spain the tradition is to try to eat twelve grapes while the clock is striking midnight. If you can do it, it is suppose to bring you luck in the new year. In Bolivia they bake coins into cakes and whoever finds them has luck in the new year. In the Philippines they have twelve types of round fruit in their centerpiece to bring prosperity to each month. They also eat pancit--long noodles to bring luck and sticky rice to strengthen family bonds. In Argentina they eat beans to ensure they keep their job or open the door for a better job in the new year. In Ireland instead of eating the bread they hit the walls with it to get rid of evil spirits.  In Bulgaria they are also celebrating St. Basil's Day (which is a bigger holiday than Christmas) so the parties are large and so is the meal. Traditionally there are big meals with lots of meat, pig head, cake and cheese pastry with a few fortune slips in it. After turning three times, everyone is offered to choose a slip. Then spitted bread is distributed in order of age eldest to youngest. Then the pig’s head is distributed. Pork is distributed on New Year’s Day. In Austria they serve pig for New Year's Day with peppermint ice cream for dessert. They believe suckling pigs are good luck. In Switzerland they celebrate by dropping ice cream on the floor. In Amsterdam, Netherlands the celebration starts on December 29th and it includes two special sweets oliebollen, round shaped doughnuts, and appelflappen, apple fritters. In France they begin the new year with a stack of pancakes. In Estonia they eat seven times on New Year's Day to assure abundance in the new year. 
Appleflappen/appelbeigenets (Netherlands) Teunie from nl 
[GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

What to Do

In Colombia and Puerto Rico people run around the house with a set of luggage to ensure travel in the new year. In Chile they sweep out the house to rid it of the bad luck from the past year. Families also spend the night in the cemetery to be close to their deceased family members. In a small village of Peru they have fist fights to settle all their disagreements and then start the new year with clean slates with one another. At midnight in Scotland someone runs out the door with money and coal and knock on the door to bring good luck to the house. In England the first person over the threshold matters. The person needs to be a male without blonde or red hair. He should enter through the front door with gifts like bread for the kitchen, drink for the head of the family and coal for the fire. These gifts are thought to bring luck. Females, blondes and redheads are considered bad luck. In Siberia people jump into the frozen lakes with tree trucks. In the Philippines the kids jump as high as they can so they will grow taller in the new year. On New Year's Day people open their drawers, cabinets, and windows to let in positive vibes and good fortune.

In some parts of Puerto Rico people throw a bucket of water out the window to scare off the evil spirits. In Denmark they like to jump off chairs at midnight and leave old dishes and glasses by their front door so friends can come by and throw them at their door for luck.  In Romania people throw their spare coins into the river for luck. In Thailand they throw buckets of water on each other and also smear gray talc on each other. In Cambodia they sprinkle water on each other's faces at dawn, on each other's chests in the afternoon and on the toes after the sun sets. In South Africa they throw old appliances out the window. 

In Ecuador they burn paper filled scarecrows at midnight and photographs from the past year for good luck. In Panama they burn effigies of everyone (including famous people) to bring good luck in the new year. They also burn effigies in Colombia and Argentina. In Russia they write down their wishes and burn them. 

Colombia By Etienne Le Cocq (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

In Germany and Austria they melt lead and tell the future of the new year with the shape formed. In Belgium the farmers wish their cows a "Happy New Year" and people often throw parties where everyone kisses, exchange fortune greetings and raise a toast. The kids save their money so they can write and gift their elders new year greetings. At the first toll of midnight in Wales they open the door and quickly shut it to release the old year and lock out its bad luck. Then at the twelfth toll they open the door again to welcome the new year and its prosperity, luck and goodness. In Ireland single women sleep with mistletoe leaves under their pillows to find a husband in the new year. In Turkey they perform community service and charity work on New Year's Day to bring happiness throughout the year. In Japan the priests bang the gong 108 times to bring cleanness. Buddhists wash their Buddha statues. 

In China they set off fireworks to scare the evil spirits. They also paint their doors red for happiness and good fortune. They also hide all the knives so no one will cut oneself since it brings the whole family bad luck if someone does. 

Times and Lengths of Celebrations

Now I mentioned in Amsterdam the celebrations begin December 29th. In Australia the celebration lasts six days. Some of the cultures celebrate the lunar new year. This year it is February 16. Some of these cultures are China, Korea, Vietnam, Mongolia, Laos, Singapore, and many Asian countries. (See my post about different celebrations of the lunar new year.)

New Year Traditions Around the World Games

We are getting ready for Hazel's New Year's Eve Birthday Bash. I wanted to come up with an activity that would include some of these fun traditions. My first thought was a relay race, but Hazel vetoed this idea. We decided on charades. However I made up both games and am providing you with this free printable so you can try them. As with all my printables they are for personal use only. If you want to share them, please refer people to this post!

So what are your plans for celebrating the new year?