New Year’s Traditions From Around the World

There isn’t a single person on Earth that doesn’t experience the new year, but people celebrate it in different ways around the world. From eating traditional foods to wearing specific colors of clothing to picking up potatoes (no joke), New Year’s Eve rituals are designed to bring luck and foretell tidings of the coming year. If you want to increase your good fortune in 2019, try one of these festive ideas from around the world.

Make sure you have a handful of grapes at your pocket if you’re partying in Spain. It’s tradition to eat one grape at each stroke of the clock at midnight for luck during the 12 months of the coming year.

If you visit Columbia on New Year’s Eve, expect to see people running around with suitcases. No, they’re not heading out on vacation. People carry suitcases for the day or around the house in the hopes of having a travel-filled new year.

The Danish people greet the new year by smashing their crockery against the doors of family and friends. This is a symbol of friendship and is thought to banish evil spirits away from the home. The more broken china you have on your doorstep come morning, the more popular you are.

To ring in the New Year, Finland residents pour melted metals (usually tin) into a container of water. As it rapidly cools, the metal hardens into a freeform shape. The shape it forms is meant to foretell what the coming year will bring.

Scotland likes to start off the new year on the right foot—literally. People invite family or friends over to their home and the first person to cross the threshold will be holding a gift. The tradition of “first-footing” is meant to bring luck into the household for the coming year.

The calendar has come full circle and people in the Philippines celebrate with everything circular or round shaped. Whether it’s eating rounded fruits and pastries or wearing polka dots, round shapes are thought to symbolize coins and wealth. The more roundness you celebrate on New Year’s Eve, the more money you will have in the coming year.

Brazil, along with many South and Central American countries, believes in the power of color. It’s a New Year’s Eve tradition to wear colored clothing, usually underwear, to represent what you want for the coming year. Red brings love, yellow brings wealth, and white signifies a longing for peace and happiness.

The Greeks celebrate the new year with a special break or cake called a vasilopita. This treat hides a coin or trinket inside. Each guest is given a slice (handed out from eldest to youngest) and whoever finds the coin in their piece wins a gift or money. In some traditions, additional slices are cut and placed aside to symbolically serve Jesus, Mary, or a particular saint being celebrated.

If you’re in Peru, go and stock up on potatoes. Peruvians lay three potatoes under a chair on New Year’s Eve. One is peeled, one half-peeled, and one is whole. Whichever potato is randomly chosen (without looking) at midnight will symbolize the financial fortune of the chooser. A peeled potato is bad news while the whole potato indicates forthcoming wealth.

Whether you try one of these fun traditions or make up your own, Happy New Year from Access 2 Interpreters!

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