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From ringing bells to eating grapes, nations enjoy wide range of New Year’s traditions

Watching the ball drop at Times Square in New York City, whether live or on television, is a New Year’s Eve tradition for million of Americans. “Time” magazine looked at several unusual traditions from around the world.

Brazil. Revelers often wear white and go to the beach to celebrate the new year. At the ocean, some practice the tradition of making offerings to Iemanjá, or Yemanja, an ocean goddess from traditional Afro-Brazilian religions. Gifts are placed in boats and pushed into the ocean. Celebrants traditionally also jump over seven waves, thanking Iemanjá for something good that happened in the past year with each wave. When done, they don’t turn their back on the sea until their feet are out of the water so as not to receive bad luck.

READ: Add whole grains to your new year diet

            Scotland. One tradition in Scotlandwhere New Year’s Eve is known as Hogmanay, is “first footing” — literally the first foot to enter someone’s home after midnight. To ensure good luck, the first visitor should be a tall, dark-haired male bringing pieces of coal, shortbread, salt, a black bun and whiskey. The party tradition is achieved sometimes in modern times with having one guest leave just before midnight so they can knock on the door as the new year begins.

Japan. Buddhist temples ring bells 108 times on New Year’s Eve. This is because in Buddhism, it is believed that there are 108 types of earthly desires, and each strike of the bell will remove one desire. The tradition is called Joya no Kane“Jo” means “to throw away the old and move on to the new” and “Ya” means “night.”

Greece. Families traditionally go to church on New Year’s Day. After the service, they find an onion that they hang on the doors or in their homes as a symbol of good health, fertility and longevity.

Philippines. Celebrations feature round items, because it’s believed that roundness symbolizes prosperity. Households pick 12 round fruits for each month of the year. People also fill their pockets with coins or leave them on tables to attract wealth, and wear polka dots for good luck

Germany. Germans, along with some other Europeans, have the tradition of watching the same black-and-white British comedy sketch from the 1960s, about a butler serving his 90-year-old employer and her deceased imaginary guests, on New Year’s Eve since 1972.

Latin America. In some Latin American countries, people walk or run an empty suitcase around the block to bring good luck and manifest more travel in the new year.

Denmark. Danes literally “jump” into the new year, standing on chairs or couches to leap off when midnight hits. If you forget to jump at midnight, it’s supposed to bring bad luck for the entire new year.

Spain. Spaniards celebrate the New Year by popping 12 grapes in their mouth, one for each chime of the clock marking midnight, which is supposed to bring good luck for the year ahead. Revelers eat a traditional kind of thin-skinned, pale green grape, which is harvested late in November or December. The tradition dates back more than a century.

–Alan Goforth | MV


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