What will you be doing when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve? It all depends on where you are in the world. One of the most rewarding elements of travel is the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture, especially in the midst of holidays – and with New Year’s Eve, there’s no shortage of fascinating traditions just around the corner. Here’s a glimpse at a few of the most interesting New Year’s Eve traditions from countries throughout the globe.
Brazil: Brazilians famously celebrate New Year’s Eve wearing white – it symbolizes peace and renewal, and brings good luck for the coming year. Another tradition involves jumping waves, which is why the beach is such a popular New Year’s Eve spot – jump seven waves to start the new year with luck!
Colombia: This one speaks to the travel bug in all of us – many Colombians take out their suitcases at midnight and walk around the block with the suitcases in tow in order to ensure a year rich in travel and adventure.
Ecuador: One of the most common Ecuadorian traditions involves burning effigies that represent the past year’s misfortunes. Crafted from newspaper, old clothes and pieces of wood, the effigies are burnt at midnight on New Year’s Eve when everyone gathers in the streets to observe the symbolic ritual of renewal.
Germany: One fascinating German New Year’s Eve tradition seeks to predict what the coming year will hold. Molten lead or other metal is dropped into cold water, and according to the tradition, the resulting shape is linked to predictions for the year. For example, a heart or a ring-shaped piece of metal might represent a wedding, a bell could mean you’ll inherit some money and a ship or boat-like form might point to travel.
Japan: On December 31st, Buddhist temples throughout Japan ring their bells 108 times at midnight to welcome the New Year god. The 108 bell tolls represent the number of human desires that exist according to Buddhist beliefs, and the ringing symbolizes a fresh start, washing them away with each toll. Many also don the costume of next year’s zodiac animal (in 2015, it’s the Sheep).
Spain: Revelers throughout the country await the stroke of midnight with 12 grapes in their hands. When the clock strikes midnight, it’s tradition to eat one grape for each bell toll: las doce uvas de la suerte. And if you finish all 12 by the clock’s last toll? You have good luck for the rest of the year!
Philippines: Since round shapes are thought to symbolize prosperity (representing coins), many Filipino families put out large displays of round fruit on New Year’s Eve, or prepare 12 round fruits – one to represent each month of the year. Others scatter coins throughout the house, in drawers and on tabletops, and some even wear polka dots in order to ring in a prosperous year.
Happy New Year and best wishes for a year filled with travel from all of us at Oceania Cruises!