Exciting New Year’s Traditions to try out

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As we approach the end of the year, cultures all over the world are preparing to welcome the new year in different ways. From smashing plates in Denmark to jumping seven waves in Brazil, here are twelve traditions for the  New Year’s celebration.

  1. Eating twelve grapes

This tradition originated in Spain, where they called it, las doce uvas de la suerte (“The Twelve Lucky Grapes”). The Spanish would eat one grape for each strike of midnight. If the individual finished all grapes before the last bong of the clock, they were guaranteed a luck-filled new year. 

  1. Kissing a loved one when the clock strikes midnight

In English and German folklore, the first person you meet and the nature of this encounter determines how the rest of the year will go. It represents solidifying relationships with people you wish to stay close to in the future.

  1. Putting a sprig of mistletoe, holly or ivy under your pillow on New Year’s Eve

This tradition sprouts from the idea of kissing under the mistletoe. Associated with the Viking goddess of love Frigga, mistletoe was used in ritualistic practices to encourage successful marriages, fertility and happiness. On the other hand, in pre-Christian animalistic religions across Europe, the mistletoe was a symbol of divine male essence. This led to the belief that lonely maidens would attract a suitable match if it was placed under their pillow Dec. 31.     

  1. Hanging bundles of onions above the front door

Yes, you read that right. In ancient Greece, onions were considered a symbol of growth, rebirth and prosperity. The specific type of onion they used, squill, grew in abundance on the isle of Crete. This specific species was believed to have mystical powers because the Greek noticed that they were able to sprout and put down roots when left alone for long periods of time. Being the ultimate symbol of fertility, these onions were hung up in households to bring good health, happiness, blessings and luck to Greek families. 

  1. Standing on chairs and “leaping” into January

In Denmark, people would stand on chairs to jump into the New Year fresh. There is a belief that if one spends their last moments in the past year off the ground, they can welcome the new year with excitement and love.

  1. Listening to the chiming of a temple bell 108 times

In the last moments of ōmisoka, or New Year’s Eve in Japan, temple bells ring 108 times in a Buddhist ritual called joya no kane. Entering the new year, people are cleansed of the 108 worldly passions, such as manipulation, gluttony and envy. It is timed perfectly, so that the last ring comes in the New Year. The ritual, conducted by Buddhist monks, is accompanied by a prayer and a wish that those who listen to the ringing are not plagued by passions in the coming year.

  1. Banging Christmas bread on the walls

An old Irish New Year’s tradition, banging walls with bread is meant to rid a family from all bad luck in the coming year. The bread is meant to encourage a plentiful supply of food, prosperity and wealth in the coming year.

  1. Packing an empty suitcase and running

Packing an empty suitcase is a Colombian tradition that encourages trips and memorable travel in the following year. One has to take an empty suitcase and run around the block shouting names of places they want to visit, regardless of passersby. It is believed to symbolize starting fresh, leaving all the bad in the last year and welcoming the new.

  1. Baking a cake with a coin hidden in it

Another Greek tradition consists of hiding a coin inside a Vasilopita, a traditional Greek cake served at midnight on New Year’s Eve. When the cake is cut, the person who finds the coin is promised a prosperous year.

  1. Watch the Time Square ball drop

In the United States, this tradition arose when “New York Times” owner Adolph Ochs created the event to bring attention to the Timess new headquarters in 1907. Rising in popularity ever since, millions of people travel to see the ball drop live, regardless of the freezing temperatures. Additionally, 100 million viewers across the globe tune into the musical performances that are streamed live on television. 

  1. Avoid white colored dishes 

In Chinese culture, white symbolizes death, which is why having white foods, like rice, eggs, tofu and cauliflower, is considered to welcome bad luck into the coming year. It is better to fill the New Year’s table with greens to bring wealth and yellow foods to welcome prosperity and happiness into the New Year.

  1. Watch the clock strike twelve

Like the Time Square ball drop, many places stream the clock strike twelve. This is a very popular custom in Russia, where there are musical performances, movies and fireworks until the clock strikes twelve. Once it does, families cheer and welcome the new year, whether they are at the Red Square or in the comfort of their home.

Alina, a rising sophomore at American Heritage, is looking forward to her first year on the Patriot Post. Apart from reporting, she’s very involved in the arts and can often be found creating a new painting in her free time. Alina enjoys ballroom dancing, music, fashion, literature, and mathematics as she is a part of the math competition team, the National English Honor Society, and the National Art Honor Society. Nevertheless, her recent discovery of her passion for journalism has inspired her to capture the rhythm of life at American Heritage this coming year.