Although people around the world celebrate the New Year with a glass in hand, we all celebrate very differently.
For the Swiss, New Year’s means delicious food, magnificent fireworks and toasting the new year with full glasses. But it’s not just the corks that pop at the turn of the year: in some Swiss places, traditional parades with disguised figures, drums, bells or whips also take place. A big highlight is undoubtedly the Hotsch race in Klosters GR, where ten pigs compete. The winner will be chosen as a lucky charm for the new year. But not only in Switzerland, but also abroad there are many amusing New Year’s traditions to discover.
1. Spain: Grapes and ring in glass
Grapes are bought diligently in Spain on New Year’s Eve. Because at midnight the Spaniards consume twelve grapes: one grape should be eaten for each of the twelve chimes. However, a punch lasts three seconds instead of the usual one second. This is a safety measure as there have been a number of deaths from suffocation from traditional grape eating. If you don’t manage to crush the grapes in time, bad luck is said to follow you. On the other hand, if you manage to do it, you can make a wish for the New Year. As in Switzerland, toasting with a glass of sparkling wine is a must. The subtle difference: there is a golden ring in the sparkling wine. This should guarantee a windfall in the new year.
2. Spain, Italy, France: Red underwear
In addition to these two traditions in Spain, there is a third one, also known in Italy and France. In western and southern Europe, the supply of red underwear increases shortly before the turn of the year. This is worn by women on New Year’s Eve and is supposed to keep their love life going. However, some conditions must be met: The underwear may not be bought by yourself, but must have been a gift. For this reason, men often give away red underwear for Christmas. On New Year’s Eve, underwear may be worn for the first and last time. For the magic to work, it must be thrown away after New Year’s Eve.
3. Greece: gambling
Around the turn of the year, things are really happening in the Greek bakeries. The so-called Basilius bread is prepared in which a coin is hidden. Then the bread is eaten. Apparently, whoever gets the coin should be enriched with good luck in the new year. In Greece it is also common to spend the evening playing cards or dice. The Greeks go all out: they play for money. Whoever wins not only gets the money, but also a large portion of luck.
4. Russia: drinking ashes in champagne
Since Russia lives according to the Julian calendar, New Year’s Eve is only celebrated from January 12th to 13th. The date is not the only thing that is unusual. Shortly before noon, the Russians write a wish for the New Year on a piece of paper, which is then burned. The ashes are then poured into a glass of champagne. If the glass is drunk by midnight, the wish will come true.
5. Brazil: Wet New Year’s Eve
The Brazilians are lucky enough to be able to enjoy New Year’s Eve with wonderful temperatures. The beaches are lit with candles and the locals like to dress in white. They do this because white reflects the sea goddess Yemanja and stands for fertility. At night people jump over the waves in the sea. For every wave you jump you can make a wish for the coming year. Mostly women then put boats into the sea, which are filled with sweets and flowers. This should also ensure that the wishes come true.
6. China: cleaning day and tangerine toss
The Chinese New Year is not set to a fixed date, as is the case here. The beginning of the New Year is based on the lunar calendar and therefore takes place on a different day every year. At the turn of the year things really get going in China – it is the most important and largest festival in the country. In addition to celebrating and decorating the houses, cleaning days are also popular. Cleaning is supposed to drive away evil spirits. In addition, many Chinese open the windows before midnight to lure luck into the house. There is even a custom to help unmarried women find a partner: the ladies have to throw tangerines into the sea.