New Year’s Eve brings the yearly circle of celebrations to a close (for those of us following the Gregorian calendar). It’s the end of one year and everything that its contained and the beginning a brand New Year holding our hopes and dreams.
Traditionally, there are many parties, lots of get togethers, much oohing and ahhings of firework displays, some quieter contemplations – and there are also long time-held traditions, which are many and various. Here are a few that you might (or might not) fancy giving a try…
So, if you were to find yourself celebrating New Year in Denmark, you would hope to find a large pile of smashed plates outside your front door! The Danes save up plates for the New Year and then go and smash them outside the doors of friends and neighbours to bring good luck – the more plates, the more luck (although you might wonder about that if you have to clear them all up in the morning!)
Or perhaps you’d prefer to help banish bad memories by burning photographs that remind you of things you’d rather forget – then you’d be in sunny Ecuador, where they also partake of torching a scarecrow or two to rid themselves of woes from the year gone.
Maybe you’d rather tuck into some fruit? Then Spain is your place, because there everyone likes to munch on 12 grapes come midnight on New Year’s Eve – one for each strike of the bell to ring in the New Year.. if that sounds like a bit of a mouthful, then of course a glass of vino helps wash them down.
If you prefer veggies to fruit, then go to Greece, where they hang strings of onions outside their doors at New Years – the onions are a symbol of growth in the year to come.
If you’re considering your New Years party outfit, well don’t forget what goes underneath! Especially, if you find yourself in South America, where you must pick the colour of your underwear carefully: if you’re looking for love, then red is for you; if you’re hoping some pennies will come your way, then choose yellow; if you’re wanting peace and harmony, go for white and if you’re yearning to be closer to nature, then it’s green.
Perhaps the New Year puts you in the mood for a good clean out of your old stuff? Then head for South Africa or Naples, Italy, where old furniture is tossed unceremoniously from houses and balconies to symbolise clearing out the old and welcoming in the new – look out below!
Feeling like freshening up? They sure do in Puerto Rico, where it’s the custom to throw water out of your door at midnight on New Year’s Eve – that’ll be sure to keep you awake!
Fancy dress has been a long-held tradition for New Years Eve, especially in Romania, where it’s considered good luck to dress up as animals, in particular bears and goats and to trip around your neighbours to bring a smile to their faces. If real animals are more your thing, then hang on until New Years Day, where farmers whisper to their cows for good luck (not sure quite what they say to them!)
If you like to welcome in the New Year with a kiss (or three) then Venice, Italy, is your place – legend has it that a New Year’s kiss in Venice brings love and luck all year long – ahh.
Staying in Italy, if you’re feeling a little peckish, then how about some lentils? A traditional dish eaten to represent coins ie good fortune, for the coming year. You might also want to hang a broom on your wall to sweep away all the bad from the old year and bring in better things for the New Year.
Closer to (my) home is the tradition of first footing in Scotland. You’ll need a tall, dark handsome visitor, bearing coal (to keep you house warm), bread (to keep you fed) and a coin (to bring you good fortune) and not forgetting a wee dram (shot of whiskey) to keep out the chill!
Of course, lots of us will remember our own family New Year’s rituals – I remember my dad always rushing to open the back door of the house just before the last strikes of midnight and then the front door just as the first strikes of the New Year began – to let out the old year and let the new one come flooding into the house (along with the cold air too!)
However you choose to spend it (even if it’s tucked under your duvet), I hope you have a very Happy and Healthy New Year!