2022 is fast approaching and we are all getting ready for a new beginning, which we hope will mark the end of the pandemic.
Given the latest news and restrictions brought in due to the current situation, we all need some ideas to brighten these holidays and put the best foot forward for the New Year. So, let’s look at what different cultures do to bring good fortune.
JUMPING INTO THE NEW YEAR & SMASHING PLATES (DENMARK)
At the midnight countdown, it is a tradition for Danes to stand on a sofa or a chair and jump into the New Year. The jump symbolises the hope for a better future. This tradition is especially popular with children.
Danes also smash unused or already cracked plates at the front doors of family and friends as a sign of affection and friendship. Having a huge pile of smashed plates on your door means that many people love you, so it’s a great omen for the coming year!
EATING 12 GRAPES (SPAIN)
Eating 12 grapes (“12 uvas de la suerte” or “12 grapes of luck”) is a Spanish tradition that consists of eating a grape with each clock bell strike at midnight of December 31 to welcome the New Year. This tradition dates back to 1895 when some vine growers decided to make this popular to sell more grapes given the excellent harvest.
Eating grapes should bring good luck and prosperity, but if you don’t manage to eat them all on time, you are not starting the year on the right foot!
THROWING FURNITURE OUT OF THE WINDOW & EATING LENTILS (ITALY)
In some parts of Italy, people throw old furniture and objects out of the window or balcony to symbolise a fresh start for the New Year.
This tradition is not as popular as it used to be given the obvious risks, but locals still throw small and soft items out for luck.
Italians also eat lentils that evening, as they are believed to bring prosperity. This tradition is said to date back to ancient Rome, when people would give a pouch of lentils as a gift.
ROUND THINGS & JUMPING 12 TIMES (PHILIPPINES)
In the Philippines, people like to surround themselves with round things on New Year’s Eve, as they symbolise coins, wealth and prosperity.
They also eat grapes, keep coins in their pockets and wear clothes with polka dots or round shapes.
Filipinos believe that the number 12 symbolises prosperity, so they ask children to jump 12 times at the stroke of midnight to grow taller.
WEARING COLOURED UNDERWEAR (SPAIN, PORTUGAL AND LATIN AMERICA)
In some countries, including Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Bolivia, Peru and Brazil, people like to wear coloured underwear for luck. Different colours symbolise different things in different places, for example: red brings love, romance and passion (although in some places it brings life), yellow brings wealth and success (in some countries it brings luck and happiness), blue brings good health, orange brings work success, green brings good energy, pink brings love and friendship, and white brings peace and happiness.
BURNING SCARECROWS (ECUADOR)
In Ecuador, people enter the New Year burning effigies of politicians, celebrities and film characters. This tradition symbolises purification, a new beginning and leaving the old year and worries behind. Some people are also brave enough to jump over the fire 12 times, one jump for each month.
This tradition dates back to 1895, when a yellow fever epidemic hit the city of Guayaquil. Those who survived put dead bodies into coffins and burned them.
Nowadays, effigies are paraded through the city and families build small scarecrows and cover them with masks before burning them. Men sometimes pretend to be “widows” of the effigies and beg for money in the streets.
CASTING TIN (FINLAND)
In Finland, people get a tin horseshoe (a sign of good luck), then melt it and pour the molten tin into a bucket of ice water. Since there is no mould in the water, the metal usually solidifies in an unusual shape. People then need to interpret that shape and predict what will happen in the coming year. If the new tin cast breaks into pieces, that is a sign of bad luck!
TOSSING PAPER OUT OF THE WINDOW (ARGENTINA)
In Argentina, people like to shred all of their old documents and papers, and then throw them out of the window as if they were confetti. This tradition symbolises new beginnings and leaving the past behind.
TALKING TO ANIMALS (ROMANIA)
In Romania, farmers spend New Year’s trying to communicate with their animals. If they succeed, this will bring good luck to them.
People also throw coins into rivers for luck, dress up in bear skins and dance and play music from door to door to scare evil spirits off.
If you have any interesting traditions, we would love to hear about them.