6 Unusual New Year’s Eve Traditions Around the World

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New Year’s eve traditions come in many flavors.  You may ring in the New Year by watching the ball drop on TV, toasting a glass of champagne, or sharing a kiss with your loved one. But what about New Year’s eve traditions such as devouring a dozen grapes at the stroke of midnight, running through your town with an empty suitcase, or hurling plates at your friends’ doors? Read on to discover how people around the world will usher in the New Year, from Madrid to Moscow.

New Year’s eve traditions around the globe

Eat Grapes for Prosperity

Spain has a New Year’s Eve tradition similar to the Times Square ball drop in New York City, but with an edible twist. The main national TV channel broadcasts from the clock tower of the 18th-century Real Casa de Correos in Madrid, while viewers at home have a dozen grapes at the ready. At midnight, Spaniards eat the grapes one by one, in time with the twelve chimes. If you manage to chew and swallow las doce uvas de la suerte, you’ll enjoy a year of prosperity.

Pack Your Bags in Columbia

Do you have an insatiable itch to travel or test out your language skills with native speakers? At midnight on December 31st in Colombia, those suffering from wanderlust take a lap around their block carrying an empty suitcase. Some race with their friends and family, hoping that the victor will be rewarded with opportunities to pack their bags and travel in the new year.

Smash Some Plates

Many New Year’s Eve traditions require a little cleanup the next day, but Denmark has one unusual custom that deliberately creates a mess. Danes hold onto unwanted glassware and chipped dishes all year, so that on New Year’s Eve they can smash them against the front doors of their closest friends and family. A doorstep covered in shards of glass and shattered plates is a testament to one’s popularity—a cheerful reminder for when it’s time to sweep up the debris.

Money in Your Shoe

Many look to the new year as a fresh start for their finances.  If you’re greeting el año nuevo in Chile, you might slip a luca (a $1000 peso note) into your shoe before the clock strikes twelve. This optimistic tradition is said to multiply your fortune in the months to come.

Lucky Course Meals

In Estonia, people strive to eat a lucky number of meals on New Year’s Eve. Numbers 7, 9, and 12 are considered the most auspicious—eating seven times will yield the strength of seven men the following year. Popular dishes include sauerkraut and marzipan for dessert. However, these meals should not be completely finished; a portion should be left out for ancestors’ spirits who may be visiting on New Year’s Eve.

May Your Wishes Come True

New Year’s Eve is considered the most important holiday of the year in Russia, even more significant than one’s own birthday. One of the many Russian New Year’s Eve traditions is to write a wish for the coming year on a paper scrap, burn it, and then mix its ashes into a glass of champagne. Russians toast and drink the concoction at midnight as the Kremlin chimes so that their wishes may come true in the new year.

What other unusual New Year’s eve traditions have you heard about?

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