New Year’s Day Traditions from Around the World…..Grapes, Potatoes, Onions ?
Brazil: Heading to the beach
“In Brazil, people usually go to the beach since it’s the summer there. Immediately after midnight, you’re supposed to jump seven waves while making seven wishes,” says Hudson Bohr, a Brazilian photographer based in NYC. The tradition is rooted in paying homage to Yemanja, the goddess of water. “Before you get in the water, you’re supposed to wear all white to symbolizes purity
Spain: Eating 12 grapes
The Spanish start off their new year by eating 12 grapes, which symbolize each strike of the clock. The tradition of “las doce uvas de la suerte” started in the late 19th century and is believed to ward off evil while boosting your chances of a prosperous and lucky new year. However, this will work only if you manage to eat all of the grapes in a matter of seconds since they need to be gone by the time the clock strikes midnight.
India: Building a sculpture of an old man and burning it down
“Back in Bombay we’d make an effigy of an ‘old man’ that symbolized the old year and burn it at midnight,” says Stephanie Fernandes, an associate creative director at BBDO San Francisco. The burning symbolizes the passing of grievances from the old year and makes space for a new year to be born. “Everyone would gather around singing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and then it would turn into a little party.
Greece: Hanging onions outside door
Not only are onions a kitchen staple; they can also bring you good luck for the new year ahead. In Greece it’s tradition to hang an onion outside your door. Believed to symbolize fertility and growth (thanks to its ability to sprout on its own), the onion is hung on the door after church service on New Year’s Day.
Japan: Eating soba noodles
People in Japan kick off the new year by eating a warm bowl of soba noodles. The tradition dates back to the Kamakura period and is tied to a Buddhist temple giving out the noodles to the poor. Because the long thin noodles are firm yet easy to bite, it is believed eating them symbolizes a literal break away from the old year.
Colombia: Placing three potatoes under the bed
On New Year’s Eve, Colombian households have a tradition, called agüero, of placing three potatoes under each family member’s bed—one peeled, one not, and the last one only partially. At midnight each person grabs for one with eyes closed and depending on the potato they select, can either expect a year of good fortune, financial struggle, or a mix of both.
Denmark: Throwing old plates
Chucking plates at your friends usually signals a conversation gone very wrong, but in Denmark it’s done on New Year’s Eve to bring your loved one’s good luck. Tradition has it that the more broken kitchenware you accumulate on your doorstep, the better off you’ll be.