One of the best things about travel is getting to know new cultures and customs. We’ve found this especially true when it comes to New Year’s traditions: what’s normal in some countries is sometimes a little strange to others…
1. New Year’s Eve in Spain
In Spain, New Year’s Eve is all about good timing. When the clock strikes midnight, Spaniards try to eat a grape in time with each chime. Those who don’t manage to cram the right number of grapes at the right time face the threat of bad luck for the following year. Be warned, it’s not as easy as it sounds! Many people practise beforehand to increase their chances of beating the clock.
2. New Year’s Eve in Scotland
Scots like to rely on other people as sources of good luck. Many people here hope that a strapping young man (so far, so good!) will come knocking shortly after midnight holding a bottle of whiskey, a loaf of raisin bread and a piece of black coal (weird but we love it). If you let this lovely boy in, you’ll have good luck for the next year.
3. New Year’s Eve in the Czech Republic
The Czech like to look to their future around New Year’s, usually with the help of an apple. The fruit is cut in half and the shape of the core determines the person’s fate. If it’s a cross, mischief is on the way, but if it’s a star, you can expect happiness.
4. New Year’s Eve in Greece
Greeks are addicted to gambling on New Year’s Eve. Whether at home or in the casino, card and dice games are played in the hope that happiness will shine on the winners throughout the New Year.
5. New Year’s Eve in Argentina
People in Buenos Aires, Argentina, are little more creative when it comes to seeing in the New Year. On the last day of the year they shred old documents and papers to symbolise leaving the past behind. Around noon, people throw the scraps of paper from their windows all over the city in a shower of confetti.
6. New Year’s Eve in Japan
If you want to secure yourself some good luck for the New Year in Japan, you’re going to have to let yourself in for something dangerous.
Japanese try to polish off a round snack called Mochi to guarantee a long and happy life. In the past, the custom has been known to lead to people choking to death – we’re not sure if it’s worth the hassle, to be honest…
7. New Year’s Eve in Italy
Italians have managed to make the otherwise innocent New Year’s Eve celebration a little bit naughty. Tradition dictates that everyone must wear red underwear on New Year’s eve – be they boxer shorts or sexy lace panties – anything goes, as long as it’s red. Shortly after Christmas, red underwear is stocked exclusively all over the country. In Spain and Chile there is a similar custom. Italians also eat pig’s feet and lentils for good luck with their finances in the coming year…
8. New Year’s in Brazil
Similar to Italians, Brazilians usher in the New Year with underwear. To celebrate New Year’s Eve a la Brazil, you’ll have to buy some brand new white underwear and wear it, this symbolises a pure and innocent start to the New Year. In some areas, candles are placed in the sand on the beach. This is believed to bring money, peace and love in the future.
Do you know any other funny New Year’s customs? Let us know in the comments…
Thanks to Leandro’s world tour,&hapticflapjack, Images_of_money, and Sam Ose/ Olai Skjaervoy for the pictures from Flickr. Please note, all images were used under the Creative Commons License at the time of posting.