5 Unique New Year’s Traditions From Around the World
Celebrating New Year’s traditions is always a fun and exciting way to end the current year and welcome the new one. It is a special time to be around family and friends and share in the joy of old traditions. If you’re from the United States, you’re most likely familiar with the tradition of singing “Auld Lang Syne” and of watching a great display of fireworks as the clock strikes midnight. However, how do other countries around the world celebrate the passage into the new year? We’ll explore some of the most interesting foreign New Year’s traditions below.
New Year’s Traditions: Spain
If you love fruit, you’ll love Spain’s tradition of eating 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight. This is an old tradition from the 1800s from the region of Alicante. It seems that this practice began with grape farmers in the area wanting to sell more of their grapes before the harvest went bad.
However, people found that eating grapes on New Year’s Eve proved to be quite a fun practice. Ever since then, this tradition continues in Spain even today. It is necessary to eat all 12 grapes as the clocktowers in Spanish cities ring 12 times upon striking midnight. By eating these grapes, it is said you will have good luck in the new year.
If you’re in Japan for New Year’s Eve, it’s absolutely essential that you enjoy a warm bowl of soba noodles. The tradition of eating soba noodles on this important night is known as toshikoshi soba which translates to “year-crossing noodles.”
The origins of this tradition are not very well understood. However, some believe that it may have something to do with the long and thin shape of the soba noodles. Their shape may symbolize a long and happy life in the upcoming year. Soba noodles are made of buckwheat which makes them very healthy, so eating them may be a way to strengthen your health for the year to come.
Bells in Japan are also rung 108 times on New Year’s Eve, one time for each of the Buddhist temples in the country. The bells are meant to dispel any sins you may have committed in the previous year.
At this point, you might see a pattern when it comes to New Year’s Eve traditions and food. Greece is no exception. One of the most common practices for this holiday in Greece is chucking pomegranates against doors. This may sound strange, but it is actually rooted in ancient Greek mythology.
According to the ancient Greeks, pomegranates symbolize abundance, life, and good luck. If you’re ever in Greece on this special night, you’re likely to see a lot of smashed pomegranates. Instead of smashing just one piece of fruit, many Greek families prefer to smash many. This is because the more pomegranates you smash, the luckier you will be, or so say the Greeks.
If you tend to have a huge appetite, you might want to try visiting Estonia on New Year’s Eve. This is because this country’s tradition involves eating 7, 9, or 12 meals on New Year’s. Why so many meals, you may ask? Because these numbers are conserved lucky in Estonia and if you can eat this much, you’ll have good luck next year.
You might be wondering what it means if you can’t finish all these meals. Well, no worries. Whatever remains on your plate is left to feed your departed ancestors who come to visit in spirit form on New Year’s Eve.
New Year’s Traditions: Russia
Russia has the unusual tradition of drinking ashes for New Year’s Eve. However, this isn’t as strange and unappetizing of a tradition as it might sound. Rather than drinking the ashes of anything that was once alive, the Russians like to mix paper ash with glasses of champagne.
Specifically, they choose the ashes that once comprised notes full of hopes and dreams for the new year. By burning these notes and consuming them, the Russians believe that these hopes and dreams will come true (or at least have a better chance of happening.)