Bizarre NYE Traditions

Ringing in the new year is one of my favorite pastimes. It’s an opportunity for change and a fresh slate–to be a new person completely–so it’s ironic that I always find myself following the same traditions as the clock draws closer to midnight on New Year’s Eve.

So this year I’m resolute (get it?!) to try something different, and in case you are too, I’m sharing with you the best New Year’s Eve traditions from around the world.

Growing up, New Year’s celebrations in my family were a melting pot of cultural facets and traditions. Out of several that my family and I followed, my favorite is holding money in your pocket, be it a dollar or a handful of coins, and jumping around with it when the clock strikes midnight.

This custom stems from deep Latin American roots. Holding money signifies a continuous cash flow and financial luck, while jumping as high as you can signifies personal growth.

Speaking of prosperity, fruit stands and grocery stores do well during the new year season.

A custom held dear by Spain (and her antecedent countries) is to hurriedly eat 12 grapes at the strike of midnight–one for each month of the year. Similar festivities include loading your tables with pineapples, and Chileans eating spoonfuls of lentils. Though unconventional, the Irish have a culinary New Year’s tradition as well; they bang bread against the wall to ward off bad spirits.

What about drinks, you ask? Everyone loves to booze on New Year’s, and popping champagne is only cliche if you do it wrong. Perhaps you could take after the Russians and drink a glass of bubbly filled with the ashes of your dreams. No, but really, they write a wish on a piece of paper, burn it, and drink the ashes with their New Year’s toast. Depressing? Or genius…

A superstition I don’t follow too closely but have witnessed from more traditional Filipino families is wearing polka dots, because any round shape symbolizes prosperity.

Shapes hold a prominent place in the New Year’s traditions of Finland, too, where they melt a horseshoe and then immediately throwing it into cold water. The shape that forms is used to tell a person his or her fortune for the year, similar to tasseography methods in Russia and China. Those Finnish sure are crafty!

Let’s be real, now, you may have had a rough year where love is concerned. If so, New Year’s might be your chance to change that–just follow the Argentineans and wear pink underwear for future luck in romance.

Being single in the New Year has its benefits too, though, especially if you’re like me and get the travel bug each January. I plan on following the Colombians in their tradition of walking around my block with an empty suitcase, since they say this will bring more travels and worldliness to the year ahead, and I definitely want to get my passport stamped at least once before it expires.

New Year’s is a spectacular time of year, filled with many hopes and wishes. No matter what culture you belong to, no matter what traditions you follow (or new ones you try out, you’re welcome!), myself and BTR hope you have a safe and happy celebration.

Feature photo courtesy of Flickr user Anthony Quintano.

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