January 1 brings about so much newness with it—new goals, new dreams, new plans. Even though many of us look forward to new beginnings, it can be nice to have something constant. That’s why traditions are so important at New Year’s. While sipping champagne, watching the ball drop, and kissing a loved one is typical at a New Year’s celebration in America, the rest of the world has some pretty impressive ways of kicking off the New Year, too. Here are seven awesome New Year’s Eve traditions from around the globe.
Spain | Midnight Snack
Both a tradition and a superstition, the consumption of 12 grapes at midnight is a widespread practice throughout Spain. By eating one grape for each of midnight’s twelve chimes, heard resounding through Spanish towns from old church clock towers, the Spanish believe they can earn a year of good luck. People have a variety of strategies for eating the grapes, says FoodRepublic, all of which result in loads of laughter shared with friends to start the year. Some chuck all twelve grapes in their mouth at once–a healthier version of the campfire favorite “Fluffy Bunny”–while others have developed intense strategies. But, whatever you do, be careful–starting early is supposed to bring a year of bad luck!
South Africa | Out With the Old
To make room for new belongings and join in one of New Year’s strangest traditions, residents of Johannesburg dispose of old belongings in an intriguing manner. People throw old appliances, ranging from televisions and toasters to the occasional furniture item, off tall buildings. One resident even claims to have tossed a full bed off of his balcony, writes The Africa Report! Watch your head in Johannesburg on New Year’s Eve!
Taiwan | Family First
While many New Year’s traditions look forward, Taiwan looks back. In Taiwan the close of the year is about honoring ancestors and spending time with family. On New Year’s Eve, ancestors are thanked for their blessings and protection, after which the family eats a traditional dinner together. An empty setting is set out for out-of-town children who couldn’t make the festivities so that they’re still a part of the celebration. On the second day of the year, married women return home to visit their families, and most businesses won’t open again until the fifth.
Ecuador | Burning Man
To destroy the previous year’s bad moments, scare away bad luck, and sometimes to make a political statement, locals burn scarecrow-style statues at midnight. These “viejos” are stuffed with newspapers and old photographs and equipped with masks of figures who are disliked or just happened to be popular that year.
Denmark | Smashing Dishes
What says friendship more than broken dishes? No need to feel bad when you clumsily break a plate in Denmark. Throughout the year, friends collect their broken china to chuck at each other’s doors come New Year’s Eve, writes World Records Institute. The bigger the dustpan you need come morning, the more friends you have. It looks like cleaning up has never been more fun.
Scotland | Great Balls of Fire
The Scots have been celebrating the festival of Hogmanay at the New Year for a long time. Although December comes with a variety of traditions, many of which involve whiskey and sweets, the most unique are the fire festivals. To ward off evil spirits and start the year off with a bright and festive celebration, groups get together to perform with their fireballs–closed baskets filled with secret recipes of material meant to burn long and bright. The street parties usually go long into the morning of January 1.
Brazil | Inside Out
For centuries, people around the world have attached specific meanings to colors. Giving your beau a red rose means something completely different than gifting a yellow one. In Brazilian cities such as Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, New Year’s party-goers take it to a whole new level. While the base color for ringing in the new year is always white, undergarments are used as accent colors–worn on top of regular clothing. Wearing a green bikini? You’re wishing for good health. White trunks? That monochromatic vibe means you’re begging for peace. Pulling an Iron Man by wearing red and yellow? Romance and money might be in your future.