The festivities followed by Christmas into New Year’s Eve can sometimes get just as monotonous as they are looked forward to. If you are also starting to get bored of the same old get-togethers and the repetitive toasts year after year, here are some out-of-the-box traditions kept alive by countries around the world for unique New Year’s celebrations. By Ritika Dixit
If you plan on being in Spain for New Year’s Eve, it would be best to not look taken aback when you witness almost all Spainards filling their mouths with grapes at the stroke of midnight. One for each second till 12 seconds, for each of the 12 months in the new year, for good luck. Alas! All 12 grapes didn’t fit a mouth? It is said to bring bad luck.
Contrary to the popular superstitions around the world, Denmark believes in good luck brought by broken glass. Thus, smashed plates on front porches are a normal sight in Denmark on New Years. The locals smash the plates and leave them outside their friends’ front door to bring them good luck for the upcoming year. If you open your doors to a large pile of broken glass on new years, congratulations on the popularity!
According to Joya no Kane, a traditional Buddhist ceremony in Japan, bells are rung an exact number of 108 times — 54 times before midnight and 54 times after, for each of the worldly sins defined in Buddhism. The ceremony usually takes place in Buddhist temples and the bell is often so large that it needs a minimum of 12 people together to ring it.
In another front door ritual, locals in Greece hang onions or squill on their front doors on New Year’s Eve as a symbol of rebirth and re-growth. The onion or squill has a characteristic of continuing to grow despite its flowers being uprooted. The same resilience and good luck are said to be brought upon people who hang it outside their homes.
In one of the most unique New Year’s traditions around the world, dancers in Romania dress up as native bears of the Romanian forests and as gipsies who chain the bears. This follows a popular cultural belief of warding off all evils and the death of the old year, while also welcoming the new one with open arms. The tradition has popularly come to be known as the ‘dance of the bear’.