The moment the entire world has been holding its breath for is on the horizon—“The Roaring 20’s” are just hours away.
People around the world, of course, will celebrate this New Year at different times because of geographical differences. But besides the fact that some celebrate each New Year a couple of hours before others do, one thing is for sure: as 2020 knocks on our door and across cultures and time zones, there will be myriad New Year traditions celebrated in each country.
In Miami, the famous capital of Latin America and a gateway of Nations, the most popular tradition Hispanics uphold is eating 12 grapes as the final seconds of the year conclude. Each grape represents a month of the year, and while eating them, making a wish per grape, setting a goal for the New Year, or simply saying a month per grape is part of the tradition in some countries too.
Besides eating grapes, Hispanics have other traditions too. Some Cubans walk with a luggage around their block for fortune and to bring good travel, and others throw away ice buckets to bring good luck and cleanse bad energies.
In other Latin American countries such as Nicaragua and Perú, the tradition to burn a doll called “El Viejo,” “The Old Man,” is widely popular too. El Viejo, often made of paper and filled with fireworks, is a representation of the old year, and burning it signifies letting go of the past.
In Mexico and Central America it is also believed that putting a coin in your shoe and wearing it all throughout New Year’s Eve is a bringer of money for the New Year—and if you want a promotion, standing up on a chair to be above everyone at the party works miraculously.
In South America, they also have an underwear superstition: depending on the color of one’s underwear, one is bringing different vibes for the New Year. Wearing green underwear, for instance, brings money or simply better luck for the New Year, red underwear brings romance and passion, blue underwear brings good health, and black underwear, on the other hand, attracts bad vibes according to the tradition.
Beyond Hispanoamérica, another of home of New Year traditions is Europe. In Denmark, smashing plates is a very popular tradition. This method represents getting rid of old, negative energy and replacing it with a better vibe. Meanwhile in Scotland, people rush to be the first person to visit their close friends in a tradition called “first-footing”.
In Romania, another country in Europe, citizens dress in bear fur and such fur costumes as part of a cultural costume during New Year’s Eve too.
To the East of these countries, in Asian countries like Japan and China, ringing bells to honor the New Year is a popular form of celebration. Bells are run exactly 108 times when the New Year arrives.
In China, the Lunar New Year will be celebrated on January 25th when 2020 hits. The cultural and religious significance behind the event is seen through lantern festivals, an annual reunion dinner, and cleaning homes, ridding them of negative energy.
Chinese-Americans too celebrate the Lunar Year, often times buying Lunar cakes and celebrating with family in a home decorated in cultural and festive paraphernalia.
In the Philippines, Phillipino children are often told to jump exactly at 12 o’clock AM on New Years to help with their growth. Jumping, according to the belief, makes children grow taller. Some Phillipino also have the tradition of wearing polka dots on New Year’s Eve, which are supposed to be bringers of good luck for the New Year.
In the continent of Africa, Southern African countries have always practiced the tradition of throwing out old furniture and replacing it with new ones—it’s supposed to cleanse, be a method of re-starting anew.
The reality is that we have countless New Year traditions around the world, but despite our various cultural beliefs, we also share some common traditions.
A common form of celebration everyone shares is fireworks, one’s favorite giant displays of color and happiness. In Brazil, they gather near the beaches and Rio de Janeiro to watch. Canadians in Toronto gather in Nathan Phillips Square to do the same thing. In the U.S., everyone joins in to as well watch the spectacle of lights as the clock marks 12 AM on the New Year.
Another popular tradition across the world is sharing a New Years kiss with a loved one you hope to have in your future. That’s why people kissing at Times Squares as the clock hit 12 is often televised all over—what better way to start a new year, and in this case a decade too, than with a testament of love?
There’s a lot of different traditions around the world for the New Year. At the end, each of these celebrations are a testimony of diverse cultural intricacies and the beauty of nuance.
The decade is about to end, the New Year is about to start, and whether one is American, Hispanic, African, European, Asian—we all celebrate with one common goal: bidding farewell to old memories and hoping with positivity for new ones.
Happy New Years everyone!