In the United States, we’ll use any excuse to celebrate and the new year is no exception. We watch the ball drop in Times Square, make resolutions and eat different food for good luck. But other cultures and countries have very different customs for ringing in the new year. Here are 10 unique New Year’s Eve traditions from around the world.
- Scotland The first person to cross the threshold of your home on New Year’s Day is thought to be the bringer of good luck for the coming year. This is called “first footing.”
- Belgium On New Year’s Day, children craft special letters to their parents. It’s something like a Valentine — they create a collage of angels, cherubs and roses — and then read the letters out loud to their parents.
- Denmark They save their chipped and otherwise unwanted dishes to throw at the doors of friends. Whether or not this determines your luck for the year is uncertain, but the pile of broken dishes you have at your doorstep on the last day of the year is a measure of how many friends you have.
- Japan Don’t be alarmed when the temple bells don’t stop ringing! That’s 108 chimes from the Buddhist temples. Each ring represents temptations to resist in order to achieve peace of mind.
- South America New, colorful underwear for the new year is a must. If you want love, wear red underwear. If it’s financial success you need, yellow underwear is what you need. For peace, stick to white underwear.
- Greece To bring wealth and success for the coming year, it’s customary to crack open a pomegranate on your doorstep before entering your home on New Year’s Day.
- Ecuador Everyone cobbles together paper dummies — similar to scarecrows — to represent all the bad luck and disappointment of the last year. At the stroke of midnight, everyone sets their dummies on fire in the streets.
- Germany They look to lead to determine one’s fortune in the new year. Molten lead is poured into cold water. The shape it takes — a heart for marriage, circles or spheres for good luck and the shape of an anchor for bad luck — predicts what your year will bring.
- Switzerland They drop dollops of whipped cream on the floor and leave it there. It’s thought to bring good fortune for the next 365 days.
Whether or not you believe cultural customs guarantee good luck for the year, a new year is as good a reason as any to make a fresh start. Here’s to a happy 2015!