Superstitious New Year’s Traditions Around the World | ExpatWoman.com
 

Superstitious New Year’s Traditions Around the World

Every culture has its own superstitions and ways of ringing in the New Year.

Posted on

27 December 2020

Last updated on 31 December 2020
Superstitious New Year’s Traditions Around the World

The New Year is upon us and it's a time of celebration all over the world.

While we all celebrate the same thing, every culture has a different way of doing so. New Year superstitions are quite common in many countries, with some more intense than others. Not everyone believes in these superstitions of course, but here is a look at some popular ones in different countries.

Spain - 12 Grapes

Spaniards eat a dozen grapes to welcome in the new year. It’s believed to represent good luck for every month of the year. It’s said to have started in 1909 by Alicante farmers as a way to get rid of the surplus grapes from an unusually large harvest.

Italy - Let It Go

Italians throw their old crockery (or even furniture!) out the window at midnight. It symbolises letting go of the past year and making room for better things. How fun does that sound?

It’s also customary to leave the doors and windows open the following day, in an attempt to let the evil spirits out and the good ones in.

Japan - 108 Chimes

The Japanese start their year off with 108 chimes from bells in temples and shrines. It’s believed that it helps people overcome 108 earthly temptations and push them closer to salvation.

Brazil - Dress in White

In Brazil, people dress in white, symbolising peace and prosperity. If you are by the Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, you’ll find plenty of people with baskets of flowers and gifts, ready to be set adrift to the ocean goddess of fertility and motherhood Lemanja.

It’s believed that if the baskets don’t come back, then they were accepted by the goddess, marking a prosperous New Year.

Russia - Drink Your Wish

How about a glass of bubbly with a hint of… ash?

Russians have a tradition where they write down their wish on a piece of paper, burn it, and then put the ashes in their drink. It’s believed that if you have that drink right before midnight, your wish will come true.

England and Scotland - Best Foot In

The English and Scottish believe that the first person to walk into their house after midnight could be the family’s New Year fortune. Children, symbolising innocence, would make the best first guests. Or a tall, dark-haired man…take your pick!

Denmark - Smashing Plates

The Danish smash plates on front steps of their friends’ houses. The more they smash, the more liked the person is. It sounds like a great time, can’t say as much for the clean-up though…

Chile: Walk With a Suitcase

The Chileans go out for a walk with an empty suitcase before midnight. It’s believed to make travel dreams come true. We’re definitely all for that!

Greece - Loafing It

In celebration of Basil Caesarea, the Greek bake some special bread and put a coin inside of it. It’s believed that the person who gets the piece with the coin will have extra good luck. The bread slices are meant to be passed around in a specific order.

Philippines: Round and Round

Round objects are seen as auspicious. Therefore, people there eat round foods, wear polka dots and throw coins in the New Year in hopes of bringing more wealth and prosperity into their lives.

Puerto Rico: Clean Start

Puerto Ricans start the year off on a clean slate by cleaning their homes thoroughly. The idea is that they’re scrubbing away any negative energy and starting fresh. Some also throw buckets of water out the window as it is believed to drive away evil spirits.