8 Unique New Year's Eve Traditions from Around the World
When it comes to ringing in the new year, your options are boundless. You might watch the ball drop in Times Square, count down at a soiree with friends, or snuggle up at home in your PJs. But if you’re looking to spice up your typical plans, take cues from traditions across the world. We've rounded up the most entertaining—and peculiar—New Year’s customs to give you an idea or two.
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Still not sure how you'll spend the last night of 2017? How about smashing plates or burning wishes?
According to Spanish tradition, if you can stuff yourself with 12 grapes at midnight—one for each stroke—the 12 months ahead will be full of luck and prosperity. Perhaps it’s time to switch out the champagne for fruit?
Japan takes ringing in the new year literally. Temples across the country ring their bells 108 times, a Buddhist custom, once for each human sin. This custom is thought to cleanse people of their wrongdoings from the previous year and give them a fresh start.
You may think of shattering plates and glasses as precisely what not to do as a New Year's Eve guest, but Danes welcome January 1 by smashing their chipped tableware on their neighbors’ doorsteps for good luck. The more broken pieces you have on your own doorstep, the more good fortune the new year will bring.
In the Philippines, all things round are considered good luck, so on New Year’s Day, it is traditional to reflect that in everything from what you wear to what you eat. People eat circular fruits, wear polka dots, and fill their pockets with coins for prosperity and happiness.
Scots celebrate the new year with Hogmanay, a three-day festival that brings with it a multitude of customs and superstitions. Among many traditions that date back to the Vikings’ influence, first-footing is arguably the most well known. Once the clock strikes midnight, if a dark-haired male is the first person to step foot in your home, you are in for a year of good luck. Bonus: He's supposed to bring the homeowner a bunch of gifts and treats too.
Though toasting the new year with champagne isn’t specific to Russian tradition, consuming your own wish definitely is. When the clock nears midnight, Russians hoping for a wish to come true will write their wish on paper, burn it, throw the ashes into their glass, and drink it before the new year officially begins.
For ancient Greeks, onions symbolized growth and rebirth, and that belief lives on today. On New Year’s Eve in Greece, it is customary to hang onions on your front door. The next day, parents wake their children for church by tapping their heads with the same onion.
Across the world, holidays are for feasting. But in Estonia, eating is taken to a whole new level on New Year’s Eve. If you eat a lucky number of seven, nine, or 12 meals, you can expect an abundance of food and luck in the new year. The more you can eat, the more wealth the upcoming year will bring.