New Year’s Eve is a big deal all around the world. Families and friends come together to party, count down to the new year, and maybe even get that lucky kiss at midnight. But some cultures have their own unique traditions ranging from the spiritual to the fun to the bizarre (looking at you, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands!). Some are straight-up dangerous and others you might love enough to adopt as part of your own celebrations.
Eating 12 Grapes
In Spain, the last moments of each year are spent eating grapes—one for each chime of the clock during the countdown. These final seconds are often filled with laughter as Spaniards struggle to chew and swallow one grape after another, a task made even more difficult depending on how many drinks they’ve already celebrated with.
Make a Wish on Your Suitcase
Hopeful travelers can learn a lot from this tradition that occurs in many Latin American countries, most notably Ecuador, Colombia, and Mexico. Many believe that taking an empty suitcase for a walk around the block (or even leaving one by the door) will bring travel in the coming year. You might feel a little odd when your neighbors see you taking your suitcase for a walk, but they’ll be totally jealous when you’re on your way to the airport.
Throwing Stuff Out the Window
Heads up! If you plan to spend New Year’s Eve in Italy, you might want to find some cover because Italians like to ring in the new year by chucking dishware, appliances, and sometimes even furniture out the window. But it’s not just a lot of ruckus; the act symbolizes letting go of the past. By chucking their possessions out the window, Italians cast out the old troubles and welcome hope for a new year.
Wearing New Underwear
If you intend to welcome the new year in Brazil, you’ll have to follow a dress code. Brazilians traditionally wear white on New Year’s Eve, but that’s not all. They also believe you should wear brand new underwear and that the color of the underwear will represent what you wish to attract in the new year—yellow for money, green for health, and red for love.
Ringing a Bell 108 Times
In Buddhism, it’s believed that there are a total of 108 earthly desires that cause suffering. At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, the Japanese will celebrate by tolling temple bells 108 times—one for each desire. This ritual is called Joya-no-Kane, it’s all about purification and encouraging a fresh start for the new year.
Dropping Ice Cream on the Floor
Baking a Coin into the Bread
Eating Seven Times
New Year’s Eve in Estonia never ends on an empty stomach. In this small Baltic country, they eat seven times to celebrate the new year. Eating so often is a wish for abundance in the coming year, and seven is one of the country’s lucky numbers.
Everything Is Round
Predicting the Future
Hitting the Walls with Bread
What to Wear on New Year’s Eve
Stylish Holiday Party Outfit
Women’s Cool Black Holiday Outfit with Everlane Boots
Men’s Fun Winter Outfit to Easily Pack in Your Carry-On
More from SmarterTravel:
- 10 Surprising Ways to Offend People in Other Countries
- The 12 Best Places to Go in 2020
- 20 Adventure Trips of a Lifetime to Take in 2020
Jamie Ditaranto will be celebrating New Year’s in Brazil this year but feels weird about telling the Internet what color her underwear will be. Follow her on Twitter @jamieditaranto.
Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2015. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.
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