As the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, communities around the world will celebrate the start of 2024 with unique traditions––some more well known than others.
From the famous Times Square ball drop to hanging onions, here are some of the ways different countries ring in the new year.
Times Square ball drop
Some version of the famous ball has been dropped in Times Square in New York City on New Year’s Eve since 1907, although the history of using a ball on a pole to notify ship captains of the time dates back to the 1800s.
Nowadays, hundreds of thousands of revelers pack Times Square, waiting for hours before midnight, while an estimated more than one billion people watch the ball drop on TV, according to Times Square’s official website.
The major affair always features high-profile TV presenters and celebrity musicians. This year’s program will be presented by frequent host Ryan Seacrest and his 2024 co-host, singer Rita Ora. It will feature musical performances from Paul Anka, Flo Rida, Megan Thee Stallion, Jelly Roll, Sabrina Carpenter, Tyla and more, the Times Square website said.
Jumping waves and wearing white
In 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 Candomblé and Umbanda. Gifts are placed in boats and pushed into the ocean. Celebrants also traditionally jump over seven waves, thanking Iemanjá for something good that happened in the past year with each wave, and 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.
One tradition in Scotland, where 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 traditionally 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, per The Scotsman.
Ringing bells 108 times
In 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,” according to Japan Today.
In 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.
Finding 12 round fruits
In the 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.
Watching British comedy
Germans, along with some other Europeans, have had 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, The Guardian reported.
Taking a suitcase around the block
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.
Leaping into the new year
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.
Eating a dozen grapes
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.Leave a comment