via LiveInStyle

via LiveInStyle

 

New Year’s traditions are as varied as they are old. Many are tied to ancient traditions that have been carried on throughout the years. While some may seem silly or strange to you, the same could be said for the traditions you carry on in your own family. The idea is that you start each year with a belief that it will be better than the last and there is no better way to do that than to honor the traditions of those that came before you.

While it would be hard to argue that any individual puts their faith in these traditions changing their life, it is just as hard to argue that families find these practices as anything less than an enjoyable and personal way to usher in another year with their loved ones and their community. Most traditions are directly tied to the culture of the area in which they are found. You will likely notice this in many of the practices found on this list. Some are a little harder to tie to the specific location in which they are practiced, but others make perfect sense.

Regardless of what your tradition may be, the beliefs behind the practices found around the world can be incorporated into your own New Year’s celebration. These are often wonderful ways to enjoy the festivities of bidding farewell to one year and welcoming in a new one. All but one tradition on this list are safe and painless, with many being healthy ways to celebrate the evening.

While I would be hard-pressed to tell you to practice number two on our list, the rest are fun or interesting ways to liven up the night. If you are interested in learning more about these traditions, you can likely do some research or speak to individuals from the area to learn more about what the tradition has meant to their family. Each is tied to a specific belief and style of living and hearken back to times when life was much harder for most of us. Each has one thing in common though, they all look for luck, prosperity and a better new year. Ultimately, New Year traditions, just like resolutions, are tied to our hopes that we are going to improve over the course of the next year and that is exactly why these traditions exist.

20. South America – Colored Underwear

via ChicagoNow

via ChicagoNow

There are a number of South American countries that follow a unique tradition based on the color of their underwear. Come the new year, the color of the underwear worn determines the fate of their year. For example, Gold will lead to wealth, white will lead to peace and red will lead to finding love. It is a unique tradition to be sure, but those that practice this tradition probably think the same of others. Bolivia is known to wear yellow underwear more than other areas to increase their fortune while Mexico often sees red as the most popular color as it brings love and happiness.

19. Spain – Eat 12 Grapes

via Huffington Post

via Huffington Post

Spain has a tradition I imagine my family will start to take part in. Once the clock strikes midnight, if you are able to fit 12 grapes in your mouth at the same time you will have good luck for the next year. This is a fantastic tradition as it is a bit silly, fun and healthy. It may not be the craziest tradition on the list, but it is one that may be fun to incorporate into your next New Year’s party no matter where you live. Some traditions forgo the shoving of a mouthful of grapes and instead eat 12 grapes in the last 12 seconds of the year. Each grape is eaten as a way to signify one month of the year in which they wish to gain good luck.

18. Denmark – Broken Plates

via Hai-Hui Stangaci

via Hai-Hui Stangaci

The breaking of plates is not unique to New Year traditions, but Denmark uses the practice as a way to say goodbye to the old and welcome in the new. Throughout the year, they save all of their unused dishes until December 31st and then head to family or friends’ houses to smash them against their doors. The tradition can be found throughout marriage and religious ceremonies around the world, but Denmark makes it unique by creating a loud and enjoyable – while safe – evening to ring in the new year. The throwing is a gesture of good luck for the house on the receiving end, but those that wish not to throw the dishes can simply leave broken heaps on doorsteps to bestow a wish of good luck in the new year.

17. Ecuador – Scarecrow Burning

via YouTube

via YouTube

The New Year is celebrated in Ecuador with the burning of a Scarecrow filled with paper as well as photographs from the previous year. This is a way to bring good fortune to all those involved over the coming year and likely has roots that fall deeper into the idea of letting go of the past to allow room for the future. The interesting part is the burning of photographs as it forces you to remember those moments from then on adding an emotional significance to the practice. The burning is used to burn away the past and scare away bad luck from the following year and not surprisingly, Fidel Castro was a popular scarecrow for many.

16. Japan – Ringing of the Bells

via BBC

via BBC

In Japan, a Buddhist tradition is to ring all of the bells 108 times. This lines up with the Buddhist belief that it will bring cleanliness. On top of that, the tradition also goes that smiling as the clock hits midnight will ensure that good luck is bestowed upon you for the following year.

15. Bolivia – Baking Coin Hunt

via Pinterest

via Pinterest

In Bolivia families will bake coins into the sweets that will be eaten during the celebration of the evening. The individual that finds the coin within the sweet will be blessed with good luck throughout the next year. This is a fun tradition as it creates a competition, but more importantly gives even those on the strictest diet a reason to cheat for one night.

14. Estonia – Multiple Meals For Abundance

via Collins Flag

via Collins Flag

Over the course of the first day of the year, those in Estonia eat seven to twelve times. This is to ensure that abundance follows them throughout the year. There are no set meals that must be eaten, but it is seven to twelves meals that are to be eaten. While in the past the idea was that a man was meant to eat full meals, it was the turn of the century that changed that to smaller meals or drinks as part of the tradition.

13. Finland and Scandinavia – Tin into the Water

via thisisFinland

via thisisFinland

In Finland and Scandinavia, it is tradition to melt tin and pour it into a bucket of water. The shapes that are created by the hardening of the melted tin is said to give you your fortune for the new year. This is a prediction which is likely made by the family and rarely – if ever – bodes towards bad signs for a new year.

12. Brazil – Gifts and Flowers into the Ocean

via HuffPost

via HuffPost

An Afro-Brazilian ocean spirit, named Yemanja, is the focus of this Brazilian New Year’s tradition. Many Brazilians believe that by throwing white flowers or gifts into the ocean, will have the spirit grant them fresh vitality and strength. Those that practice the tradition travel to Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro to offer the gifts to the waves in hopes of the blessing.

11. The South United States – Black-Eyed Peas

via IBelieveICanFry

via IBelieveICanFry

In the south of the U.S., it is extremely popular to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. The tradition is believed to instill luck on those that are able to eat at least a spoonful.  While the peas are not extremely popular with many children, catsup or other sauces or flavorings are used to help the peas go down, though it is mainly used for younger children to ensure they get their good luck. The tradition can go farther in some families as a coin will be hidden in the serving pot and the person that finds it will have even more luck throughout the year.

10. Romania – The Ceremonial Bear Dance

via The Darkroom

via The Darkroom

In Moldova, an eastern region in Romania, it is tradition that villagers dress in bearskins and dance through the streets to protect themselves and others from bad luck. The tradition goes from Christmas to New Year’s Eve and can be traced back to ancient Roma tradition.

9. China – Cleaning and Sweeping in a Specific Direction

via lipstiq

via lipstiq

The Chinese New Year takes place outside of the traditional striking of midnight on the first of January, known as the Spring Festival. It ties in to the turn of the lunar-solar Chinese calendar. Once the Spring Festival starts, homes are cleaned completely, but sweeping is done towards the center of the home. This is to ensure any fortunes left in the house are not swept out. Once all of the dirt is collected, it is discarded through the backdoor. The tradition is not meant to start until the third day of the festival as the first two days allow the lingering fortunes of the previous year to stay within the home.

8. Latin America – Empty Suitcases Lead to a Year of Travel

via Oasis Collections

via Oasis Collections

In a number of Latin American countries, individuals with a desire to travel in the following year will place empty suitcases by their front door. Some will also drag them around with them in their homes or neighborhoods to conjure up a year full of travel and adventure.

7. Switzerland – Throw Ice Cream

via Tumblr

via Tumblr

Locals of Switzerland take ice cream out onto the streets and throw it. Similar to Estonia, the thrown sweet is mean to bring abundance in the new year. No rules are in place for the type of ice cream, just that ice cream is thrown. This is likely a show of faith in their belief that one wasted meal will not harm their family as the year will be full of abundance.

6. Philippines – Round Fruits

via sukitospoon

via sukitospoon

Families in the Philippines fill their tables with round fruits. The shape of the fruit is meant to represent coins. More fruit on the table impacts how prosperous the new year will be according to tradition. It also leads to a beautiful setting for a gathering as well as a welcome meal once the fruit is ready to be eaten. In addition to the fruit, the Filipinos try to keep everything round throughout the household to reinforce their chances to gain prosperity and fortune.

5. Romania – Onion Leaf Reading

the Adventures of Clay Ball

the Adventures of Clay Ball

Peeling and slating onions is one of the lesser known traditions in Romania. Locals will take the leaves of an onion, salt them, then read them to predict the weather for the following year. This likely hearkens back to a farming tradition as the weather was key to survival of crops and families, but it is still practiced today.

4. Belgium – Happy New Year to All

via DairyCarrie

via DairyCarrie

In Belgium the wishing of good luck is not just for family and friends. Talking to livestock is thought to bring good health over the coming year. This is a way of including the animals in the well wishes and shows that it isn’t just humans that provide prosperity. It is a clear understanding that the animals are just as integral to the communities that celebrate the tradition as anyone or anything else.

3. Chile – Cemetery Sleep Over

via ChileconKelsey

via ChileconKelsey

The most popular tradition in Chile is to sleep in a cemetery. It may sound odd, but it is a way to spend the New Year with the loved ones that have moved on from this world. The families spend the night of New Year’s sleeping near the graves of their loved ones, and while it does not ensure good luck or fortune or anything else, it is a simple way to remind themselves of those that have come before them and spend one day a year with their spirits.

2. Peru – Takanakuy Festival

via ibtimes

via ibtimes

One of the most interesting – and painful – ways to celebrate the new year is the Takanakuy Festival held in the small Peruvian village of Chumbivilcas. The festival has individuals fist fight as a way to settle their differences on December 25th. This allows them to start the new year on a clean slate as they have let their frustration or anger out about certain issues.

1. Belarus – Roosters Predict Your Love Life

via Pinterest

via Pinterest

Single women in Belarus sit in a circle with a pile of corn in front of them. A single rooster is placed in the center of the circle and the woman whose grain it pecks at will be the first of the group to be married, so the beliefs go. This is number on one on the list because it is easily the most unique tradition and gives the rooster an almost supernatural power. Maybe one day someone will get statistics on the success and we can see how good roosters are at predicting our future.