Traditional New Year’s Food
While different cultures have their own unique New Year’s traditions, there are some common threads throughout celebrations. For example, in many countries, eating round-shaped foods on New Year’s Eve is believed to lead to prosperity in the coming year. In Italy, lentils are commonly eaten, as their round shape is thought to represent coins. Similarly, in the Philippines, it’s customary to eat 12 round fruits – one for every month – to usher in a year of abundance.
Another tradition involving fruit is popular in Spain. When the clock chimes the first of 12 strikes at the turn of the New Year, a grape is quickly eaten. This is repeated for all 12 strikes of the clock to ensure good luck throughout the year. The ritual is known as las doce uvas de la suerte, or “the 12 lucky grapes.”
Most food-based traditions involve eating, but there are some that use food in a different way. In Ireland, it’s customary to bang bread on the walls of homes. This is believed to chase evil spirits out of the house, allowing the residents to start the year with a clean slate.
New Years Activities
If you’re looking for an activity to ring in the New Year, there are plenty of rituals to choose from. In Denmark, it’s tradition to shatter plates and dishes against the doors of friends’ homes to ward off bad spirits. It’s believed that the more shards there are in front of a person’s home the next day, the luckier and more well-liked they are.
While it’s not as widely adopted as many other celebrations, there is a practice in some areas of South Africa that involves throwing even heavier objects. People from some South African regions believe that the act of tossing unused goods – such as furniture – from a window signals to the universe that they have let go of past grievances and are hopeful for the future.
In Ecuador, people celebrate the release of past demons with Los Años Viejos, or “the old years.” With this New Year’s tradition, locals craft dolls similar to scarecrows. They are often decorated with symbols, descriptions of their sins, or images of sinister people. When the clock strikes midnight, the dolls are lit on fire, symbolizing the end of one year and inviting good spirits to enter the new one.
Dress To Impress
On New Year’s Eve, it may be particularly important to be mindful of the clothes you’re wearing. In Brazil, it’s customary for people to wear white clothing. This is believed to bring good luck and peace in the coming year.
Some countries, especially in Latin America, believe that the color of underwear worn on New Year’s Eve can help dictate the wearer’s next 12 months. It’s said that one should wear yellow underwear for luck, red for love, or white for peace.
While you’re contemplating your outfit, you may also want to ensure that your suitcase is empty. In Colombia, it’s a New Year’s tradition to run around the block while toting an empty suitcase. According to legend, completing this ritual while in good spirits will ensure a year filled with travel.
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