Denmark: throw it
The old is leaving and the new is entering. That is how the Danes think about their tableware. In Denmark it is a tradition to break your crockery in front of or against the house of your neighbors on December 31. That sounds like the perfect opportunity to take them seriously, but in fact you are doing them a great favor. The more shards on the doormat, the luckier you will be in the new year.
Spain: swallow grapes
For Spaniards, grapes are essential at the turn of the year. The so-called uvas de la suerte (lucky grapes) is an age-old tradition that dates back to the last century and has an economic background. In the year 1909, grapes were harvested in abundance. So many, that it was therefore decided to consider them lucky grapes. At midnight, the Spaniards eat twelve grapes – one at each stroke of the clock – to celebrate the New Year. It sounds easier than it is. If you chew the grapes, then at number four you are already with a mouth full of grape pulp. So the trick is to swallow the grape whole.
Germany: Sekt and sketch
In several ways, Germany’s New Year’s Eve tradition resembles that of the Netherlands. Where we like to drink a glass of champagne around midnight, our German neighbors reach for the indispensable bottle of Sekt: a German sparkling wine that should not be called champagne. Normally you can even buy fireworks at the bakery in Germany, although this will expire this year in both Germany and the Netherlands. We eat an oliebol, German a Berliner bol. Our New Year’s Eve conference is on the TV, and the Germans have been watching the comical sketch ‘Dinner for One’ for half a century.
Finally, an event with which Germany distinguishes itself: Bleigießen, or plumbing. Hot lead is poured into a pot of water and the resulting shapes read the future. Hopefully 2021 bodes well.
Scotland: just sing
The Scots celebrate Hogmanay, the Scottish word for New Year’s Eve, in their own way. Around midnight, the song ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is loudly sung: a Scottish poem by poet Robert Burns. In some places it is a tradition to fill barrels with tar, then set them on fire and roll them down the street. In other places, a burning ball of chicken wire and flammable material is swept across the streets on a rope. This ceremony has been taking place for 150 years and is intended to rid the city of evil spirits, but will be difficult due to corona.
Brazil: it’s all about color
The Brazilians work at a detailed level. It already starts with the choice of clothing; it is best to dress completely in white and you will have a peaceful and happy year. Below that you can go wild on the colors. Blue underwear brings you health, yellow a lot of money. If you go for more passion in the following year, then red is the color. Whatever color it is, make sure it is new underwear: it will leave behind any failures in love that you have experienced last year.
Besides clothing, food is very important. Eating chicken is an absolute no go; a chicken scratches backwards and everything that deteriorates you don’t want to take with you into the next year. Lentils, on the other hand, are real lucky charms and if you are looking for more money in the new year, you eat seven seeds from a pomegranate and keep the seeds in your wallet all year round. There are also traditional activities. People gather on the beach, light candles and put flowers in the sea, after which you run into the sea at noon and jump over seven waves. A wish can be made with every jump.
Russia: in liquor and ashes
In Russia it is tradition to write your wish on a note and then burn it. The Russians then mix the remaining ashes with their champagne and they drink the glass before 00:01 am. It won’t do much for the taste, but that’s how your wish comes true.
China: double celebration
The Chinese have done well and celebrate New Year’s Eve not once, but twice. In addition to the turn of the year on December 31, they also have a Chinese New Year, which is celebrated on the first through the fifteenth day of the first month of the Chinese calendar. During those two weeks, various holidays take place with the ultimate conclusion to a lantern festival.
It’s all about starting the new year with a clean slate; weeks in advance, the Chinese clean the house, buy new clothes and try to pay off outstanding debts.
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