Every year millions of people celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of another. Bringing in the New Year is great fun, but there’s more to this amazing event than simply kissing at midnight and making resolutions for the next 12 months (or 4 weeks, if you’re as bad as me). Depending on where you are in the world, your New Year celebrations could be an entirely new experience. Take a look at these strange and wonderful New Year’s traditions from around the world, courtesy of all of us here at James Villas – wishing you a very happy 2016!
Spain’s New Year’s Eve parties are legendary, and holidaying Brits love getting stuck in with the locals in the towns and villages to ring in the New Year together. If you’re thinking of heading out there for next year’s celebrations, don’t forget a bunch of grapes! It’s a Spanish custom to eat one grape for every clock chime at midnight. If you eat all 12, you’ll bring good luck and fortune for the New Year (grape Martinis don’t count).
Italy is a fantastic place to visit during New Year, as the country celebrates this event in the same passionate and flamboyant style that they do most things! From mass kissing in Venice, to quaffing delicious Italian sparkling wine, it’s the place to be when midnight strikes. In southern Italy, there’s an old custom which involves throwing old items (such as clothes) out of the window on 1st January to symbolically welcome in the New Year. New Year’s Eve parties in Italy often last until sunrise, as watching the first sunrise of the New Year is also popular.
Turkey spans the border between Europe and Asia, making it a fascinating and eclectic destination, with many multi-cultural traditions. One slightly unorthodox custom for New Year’s Eve is to wear red underwear. It’s said that this brings luck to loved ones, and you’ll find many street stalls selling red undergarments in preparation for the celebrations!
Here in the UK, we have our own fun New Year traditions. Large groups of people often gather on beaches to take a cold swim early on the 1st January. I’m not sure if I have the guts for this (give me a heated swimming pool instead perhaps?), but it looks like great fun, and it’s even better when organised for charity.
Australians are known for having a fantastic New Year’s Eve, with Sydney boasting some of the world’s most dazzling firework displays. What you might not know, however, is that on New Year’s Eve it’s traditional in Australia to walk through the streets, banging loudly on pots and pans at midnight. That’s one sure-fire way to say “Happy New Year!” to the neighbours!
Other fun traditions…
Some countries used to (and still do) exchange presents on New Year’s Day. In Rome, people often give coins or gilded nuts to mark the beginning of a New Year. Similarly, in Scotland, shortbread, coal and silver was often given to loved ones, as a promise of good luck for the year to come.
Food to bring you luck
I love spending New Year’s Day snacking on my favourite foods before the New Year diet kicks in (and perhaps to nurse the fever from the night before!), but in some countries certain foods are thought to give good luck for the New Year.
As well as eating grapes in Spain, in parts of Europe, round or ring-shaped foods are said to symbolise coming full circle, which in turn leads to good luck. Fritters and doughnuts, for example, are popular in some Dutch countries (or maybe you have some party rings left over in your Christmas biscuit tin?). In Pakistan and India on the other hand, people often eat rice on New Year’s Day, to bring prosperity.