It is always fascinating to learn a little something about how other places and cultures celebrate special days. New Year’s Eve, (or Old Year’s Day) is celebrated in many parts of the world, although it has many different names. Countries in Europe call it St. Sylvester’s Day. Malam Tahun Baru is what it is called in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. It is called Hogmanay in Scotland and Reveillon or Wallonia in Brazil, and Portugal. This special evening is held on the last day of the year of the Gregorian calendar, which is December 31st, and rings in the New Year at midnight.
Fireworks are a common way to celebrate the New Year in many countries around the world. Festivals and celebrations also include song, dance and of course, great food.
Here are some fun and quirky things people do around the world to say goodbye to the old year and bring in the new:
In Australia, people run out into the streets and bang on pots and pans.
In Denmark they shatter dishes and plates against the front doors of friends and family.
In hope for good fortune, in Ecuador, giant scarecrows are made of paper and burned, along with photographs of the past year.
Speaking of South American countries, many believe that, your fate in the New Year is determined by the color of the underwear you wear that night. If they are red, they will bring you love, wealth if they are yellow, and peace if they are white.
In Peru, there is a festival in a small village called the Takanakuy Festival, where at the end of the year people settle their differences with a fist fight, so they can start off the year without holding any grudges.
An easier way to ring in the New Year is practiced in Argentina, where at the stroke of midnight they take their first step with their right foot, thereby, “Starting the year off on the right foot.”
In Romania, people toss spare coins into the river for good luck.
Dropping ice cream on the floor is what they do in Switzerland. (We are not sure how this tradition emerged.)
In Puerto Rico, people throw buckets of water out of their window to drive away evil spirts.
In Turkey, they smash pomegranates. The more pieces it breaks in to, the more good luck will come.
In Belgium, even the livestock get in the spirit as they are decorated and paraded around town with bells ringing.
Columbia believes that if you carry around an empty suitcase, travel will come your way in the New Year.
Many places including Bolivia, like to bake a coin into their sweets. Whoever finds it in the treat will have good luck for the next year (and hopefully not a broken tooth.)
In Spain, they eat grapes, one for each chime of the church bell at midnight. It is believed to bring good luck for each month of the coming year.
In Finland, they cast molten tin into a bucket of water and then predict what’s in store for the coming year by the interpretation of the resulting shape.
In the Philippines, they turn on all the lights to ward off evil spirits. They also wear polka dots, as anything round is considered to bring luck and prosperity in the New Year.
In Japan, the Buddhist temples strike the gong 108 times to expel 108 human weaknesses.
In Brazil, everyone wears white to scare away bad spirits and in Chile they sleep beside their loved ones in the cemetery.
Lentils and black-eyed peas are popular in many places to welcome in a full year of work and money. In fact in Texas, black eyed peas are called Texas caviar.
Also here in the United States, watching the giant crystal ball drop in Times Square (formerly called, Longacre Square) in New York City is a favorite at midnight, along with a toast of champagne, a kiss, and singing the Scottish classic called Auld Lang Syne which means, “old long ago.” According to Scotland.org, “The song is about love and kindness of days gone by, but it also gives us a sense of belonging and fellowship to take with us into the future.”
However you and your loved ones celebrate this New Year’s Eve, be safe and do a little something special for good luck, travel and prosperity. Happy New Year my friends!