It’s time for a new year, but some traditions stay old. Countries worldwide have been celebrating the occasion in their own unique ways, signifying different superstitions that they believe in. Despite one’s religion, race, gender, or country of residence, everyone celebrates new years with their loved ones. However, some countries have unique traditions to welcome a new year.
One would associate New Year’s Eve with fireworks, and rightfully so. New Year’s Eve is not a quiet event for many, and Filipinos are no exception. In addition to the fireworks, people will bang pots and pans, and children will play homemade instruments. While fireworks are to scare away evil spirits, they are also to display the brightness of the new year. During this occasion, you can see Filipinos wearing polka dots, emphasizing the rounded shape. In many Asian cultures, round things are a symbol of luck, and everyone is manifesting it. They also have a superstition with the number 12, representing the time as well as the number of months in the year. They do this by displaying 12 of one item in the house, usually round fruit.
For those who are not big fans of loud sounds, this one might not be for you. To welcome the new year, Danish people would smash unused plates and glasses against the doors of family and friends’ houses. While it might be a mess to clean up, it is thought to ward off evil spirits. Another tradition is jumping off a chair together to bring about good luck.
They eat 12 grapes, one to represent each stroke of the clock, as well as good fortune for each month of the year. You eat one grape each time the clock strikes at 12, and if you can finish all the grapes in time, the tradition says that your wishes will come true! They also wear intentionally colored underwear, with a different color representing a different wish for the year. Fun fact: for the hopeless romantics out there, wearing red underwear will bring about luck in love. Cava, a Spanish sparkling wine, is a popular drink that is consumed by many on this occasion. You can see people put a golden object at the bottom of the glass, signifying good luck and wealth for the year ahead.
Not too far away in Italy, they also have a tradition of wearing colored underwear. However, they specifically wear the bold color of red. This dates back to Roman times, where Roman warriors wore red tunics to represent strength and intimidate their enemies. This is one way they scare off evil spirits; loud fireworks are the other. Stemming from the ancient belief that these spirits do not like loud noises, fireworks and firecrackers are a large part of their New Year’s Eve celebrations, lasting for a few hours in some cities. Being one of the most well-known culinary countries in the world, it is no doubt that Italians have staples in the welcoming of the new year. Such dishes include lentils and, just like in Spain, grapes! Lentils grow in size when cooked, which signifies increasing wealth, and grapes signify well-being.
The new year for Greece is the same day as Saint Basil’s day. Therefore, some traditions may overlap between these two occasions. The first is the cutting of the new year’s cake, also known as vasilopita. It is a cake baked with a coin inside, and it is said that whoever received the slice of cake with the coin will be the lucky one that year. In addition, they hang pomegranates and onions at their door, the former at night representing fortune and luck, and the latter at day representing growth and rebirth. The onion is usually brought back from church service earlier that day.
Ever wonder why you always see white outfits in Brazil’s new year’s celebrations? It’s because it is the top must-do during this occasion. This stems from the Candomblé religion, where they would wear white during rituals to seek peace and spiritual purification. New year, new life, after all. If you were wondering if the all-white dress code applies to the undergarments as well, the answer is… somewhat. Similar to the European nations, the different colors represent different wishes, so wearing white would mean one is wishing for peace and harmony for the upcoming year. Other colors include yellow for wealth and blue for serenity and friendship.
With multiple countries overlapping in the tradition of having different colored underwear, it may be worth recollecting on the colors that you wore to see what wishes you’ve brought on! If you had multiple colors, you have drawn on more wishes. However you celebrate new years, I hope everyone had a great time being surrounded by loved ones, whether that’s family or friends. Manifest great things and let’s try our best to stick to our new year’s resolutions.