courtesy of flickr user Jefffd
This year, I’m more excited about New Year’s Eve than any other year I can remember (in other words, ADIOS 2009– you will not be missed). I’m very lucky to be celebrating with my family in a house by the ocean– and while we’ll probably just stick to champagne and tune in for the ball drop in Times Square– I wish I could somehow adapt all of these international traditions into my NYE. If you’re still on the hunt for a way to make your NYE unique, maybe some of these traditions will serve to inspire. Welcome, 2010, you got here just in time!
Each person eats twelve grapes at midnight (eat a grape with each stroke of the clock), making a wish with each grape for each month of the year. Remember: the sweeter the grape, the better the month will be! If you find a sour grape, that month may be difficult. (Boo!)
Don’t forget to wear your underwear: wear yellow underwear if you want to attract positive energy and happiness in the New Year. Wear red if you’re looking for love.
Some Ecuadorians also walk around the block with a suitcase: it’s said to bring the person the journey of their dreams in the new year. I would totally risk looking like a nutjob and do this if it’s true. I could use “the journey of my dreams,” couldn’t you?
Also, this one of my favorite traditions I’ve stumbled upon: they make dummies — stuffed with firecrackers and newspaper– that represent someone, or something from the past year. They then place the dummy outside of their houses, and at midnight each family lights the dummy on fire. When they light the dummy, fireworks go off, the old year is history, the new year— celebrated.
Anybody else got an ex-boyfriend?
courtesy of flickr user rickydavid
VIETNAM (TET NGUYEN DAY)
The celebrations last for 3 days– in which time the Vietnamese light candles to honor their deceased relatives whom they believe return during Tet. One rule: remain happy to warn off bad luck in the upcoming year (and then try to stay happy all year, what could it hurt?)
I think lighting candles for those you’ve lost is always a beautiful commemoration, and I love the idea that people HAVE to stay happy for three days straight.
CHINESE NEW YEAR
The theme that keeps coming up is NOISE. You’re given total permission to be as loud and boisterous as possible to ward off evil spirits in the new year! Light fireworks! Scream from the top of your lungs! Wear red!
Also, eating dumplings brings wealth, and everyone drinks a little liquor, which represents longevity. People also gift each other with red envelopes stuffed with money, symbolizing luck and wealth.
Many Chinese attend the Dragon Dance, which is held on the third day of the New Year. The paper-mache dragon heads ubiquitous with the parade are made with long pieces of fabric, and it takes several men to maneuver the dragon through the streets. Families open their doors to let the dragon bring luck into their homes. Drums are beat, people chant and yell. Go to a Chinese New Year Parade and Scream from the top of your lungs to ward off the bad spirits!
In honor of St. Basil (January 1 is known as St. Basil Day) the family fills the childrens’ shoes with presents at midnight. St. Basil, who apparently died on the first of the year, was a man known for his kindness and his generosity to the poor.
Fill your loved ones’ shoes with prezzies! What a happy surprise for the kids when they wake up!
JAPANESE NEW YEAR
The Japanese send Happy New Year cards to their friends, and hold “forgetting-year” parties to say goodbye to the last year. They also forgive friends and family for misunderstandings and disagreements in order to make a clean start of the new year.
Also: on December 31st bells are rung 108 times to chase away 108 troubles. After the bells are rung, everyone is supposed to laugh: because laughter will drive away the bad spirits. With all the bad spirits gone and troubles and enemies forgiven, they enjoy a day of celebration.
I love this one too, it’s a great reminder to not stay stuck in the past. If you don’t forgive, you won’t move on. And ring the bells and laugh!!
Children enjoy throwing pails of water out the window at midnight. Some believe that this rids their home of any evil spirits, it also washes the streets for a fresh path.
courtesy of flickr user grundlepuck
Brazilians usually dress in white, to bring good luck into the new year, and they have amazing, internationally acclaimed fireworks celebrations as offerings to their deities. Some Brazilians head to the water and jump seven ocean waves so that their wishes may come true. Also, people in Rio de Janeiro throw flowers into the water as an offering to the Goddess of the Seas.
Wear yellow underwear for good luck. And write wishes in a letter and burn it so they come true.
I think I’ll do this one, too.
It’s a great omen to wake up with broken china on your doorstep! At night the Danes toss plates at their friends houses— broken china means more friends in the coming year. (Sounds fun, but I wouldn’t try this here, you’ll spend the first day of the new year in the clink!).
For the French (in addition to slugging champagne) the new year begins by eating king cake, called “Galette des Rois,” on the holiday known as “Epiphany.” Epiphany is celebrated on the first Sunday of January. The cake is traditionally an almond-paste round cake which is then cut into pieces, and those pieces are distributed by a child hiding under the table. Whoever finds “la fève” — the charm hidden inside — is king or queen for the day and can choose a partner.
We did this growing up. Eating your way to the toy inside is too fun.
And last but not least, don’t forget American traditions:
Whoop and cheer as the clock strikes midnight (we also believe in warding off evil spirits that way). DON’T FORGET to kiss your loved one! It’s bad luck not to! A kiss at NYE will give you 12 more months of good luck together.
Happy New Year! What traditions do you share with your family?