In the United States, we celebrate New Year's Eve by watching a ball drop and blowing horns. But around the world, people do all sorts of quirky things to ring in the New Year. We've gathered eight unusual customs that'll entertain your children and inspire you to shake up your own celebration this year:
In lieu of resolutions, Russians focus on wishes. One tradition is to write your New Year's wish on a scrap of paper (the smaller the better!) at midnight, set it on fire, and drop the smouldering remains into your drink. For your wish to come true, the contents of your glass, ashes and all, must be gulped down before the clock strikes 12:01 a.m.!
The Spanish make sure to have a bunch of grapes on hand on New Year's Eve. Known as "Las Doce Uvas de la Suerte" ("The Twelve Grapes of Luck,") they eat one grape per chime of Madrid's Puerta del Sol clock tower at midnight. That is a lot of fast chewing! Also followed by Mexico and other former Spanish colonies, this tradition is believed to bring prosperity and chase away evil spirits. Want to try this with the kids (especially ones under 4)? Be sure to halve or quarter the grapes first.
Don Lucky Undies
Pull on a pair of festive underwear to ring in the New Year! In Italy and Spain, scarlet skivvies are thought to bring good luck. In Venezula, they believe yellow ones will bring money. Can't hurt to try!
Pass on a Pig
In Germany, swine are swapped to celebrate New Year's Eve. Known as "Glücksschwein" ("Lucky Pig"), these little piggies are made of marzipan — a type of candy made from almond meal. Consuming the treats is thought to bring good luck for the coming year. If you can't find pig-shaped candy, try this tradition with cookie cut-outs.
In the Phillipines, they go crazy for circles! In anticipation of the New Year, people dress dress in polka-dots or other circular patterns; the roundness is thought to bring prosperity.
Take a Step
In Scotland, people celebrate Hogmanay (the word for the last day of the year) with the practice of first-footing. The custom involves being the first person to cross the threshold of a friend or neighbor’s house and giving a symbolic gift. The gift can include a coin for prosperity, bread for food, salt for flavor, coal for warmth, or a drink for cheer.
Grab a Suitcase
Hoping to squeeze a vacation into the New Year? In some Latin American countries, it's believed that carrying a suitcase in a circle will increase your chances of taking a trip. So if you’re eager to jet-set, take your suitcase out of the closet and run around your block or house as fast as you can when the clock strikes 12.
Image Credit: Mercedes Rancaño/iStockphoto