Friday, 30 December 2016

New Year's eve traditions from around the world

Tomorrow is New Year's eve, and for us, it's always an international celebration. This gave me the idea of looking into how other countries celebrate the passing into another year. Thanks to my friends and the Expats in Dublin Facebook group I have gathered a few New Year's eve traditions, and I have discovered some unusual ones!


At midnight, we do the countdown and pop the Champagne, then we are supposed to kiss under the mistletoe, something I have never done (Maybe my parents weren't into mistletoe, I don't know...). We also have fireworks and it is custom on New Year to give a bit of money to children (Les etrennes).


In Venezuela, they drink a bottle of Champagne on which they stick wishes on a piece of paper. Once the bottle is finished, they hide it for the year so their wishes can come true. I think that's a sweet tradition and I might want to do it this year!


An old Irish tradition is to bang pots and pans to ward off evil spirits. At midnight, everyone goes to the back door with a lump of coal, throw it out to "throw out the old year" and then go to the front door to welcome the new year. Another tradition is to just open the front door to let the New Year in. If you're in Dublin for New Year's eve, you might also want to go to Christchurch and listen to the bells ring at midnight.


In Hungary, they eat lentils on New Year's eve for good luck and wealth.


In Mauritius, they throw  firecrackers. A lot of them! I've never witnessed it because I've never been to Mauritius at that time of year, but once, my brother in law and his friends threw firecrackers after their football team won a game, and it was rather noisy!


At midnight, Danish people jump from a chair or a couch to "jump into the new year". My Danish neighbour introduced me to that tradition and now we do it every year!


Russian people usually watch the president's wishes and when the Kremlin rings the bells, they drink champagne and open the window to let the New year in (At -25 degrees, I'm not sure I would cope...)
Another tradition is to write a wish on a piece of paper at the chime of bells on a Kremlin tower, burn it and put ashes in a glass of champagne, then at midnight you should drink it, and the wish is believed to be granted.


Finnish people try to predict how the next year will turn out by melting tin and pouring it into a bucket of cold water. The tin then freezes into a shape and they try to figure out what the shape means. This unusual tradition is called "Molybdomancy".


Over there, they eat 12 grapes, eat champagne and throw fireworks, but most importantly wear yellow clothes for good luck.


Italians wear red underwear for good luck, eat cotechino (a type of pork meat), lentils for hope of wealth in the coming year, and they pop a sparkling white wine at midnight.


At midnight, everyone starts waltzing everywhere in Austria. No matter what age, no matter with whom - they just waltz. It's especially wonderful in big cities like Vienna, when there's fireworks above and thousands of people meet up in front of the cathedral and at midnight everyone starts dancing!


German people watch a Sketch at 7pm called dinner for one, then dinner and then Bleigie├čen , which is actually Molybdomancy, the same as in Finland!


They also eat 12 grapes, one for each month of the year making a wish for each one and they toast with Champagne or some other sparkling wine.


The Spanish also eat 12 grapes, one every time the bell rings midnight and if you manage to eat your grapes on time, it means you will have a lucky and prosperous year.


Families usually open the door to let the new year in, but the original tradition was to invite in a man with bread, salt and coal. This later changed to having a man be first back across the threshold.


In Brazil they have a huge dinner, almost like Christmas dinner, fireworks at midnight with popping a bottle of champagne or any sparkling wine, and most important, for those passing it near the beach, they jump 7 waves on the sea, and for each wave you make a wish for the next year. The majority of people wear white, but some can choose other colors based on its meaning, like yellow for money or red for love.

As you can see, there seem to be as many traditions as countries, and I'm pretty sure there are some regional variations as well. On the other hand it's interesting to see countries from different parts of the world sharing the same traditions like eating grapes or lentils, wearing a special colour or making wishes in a different way.

On that note, I would like to thank all the contributors to this post and wish you all a happy and prosperous new year, no matter how you celebrate it! As for me, I might pick a bit of every tradition to make it a truly international celebration.

Do not hesitate to share more traditions from your home country in the comments!