Every year, on December 31st, the United States starts counting down to the New Year. Champagne is popped, food prepared, and parties are in full swing, as friends and family gather around the clock to cheer on a new beginning. Between a world pandemic and a very divided presidential election, the one thing many can agree on in 2021 is how thankful we are to have the chaotic year of 2020 behind us.
Considering that the COVID-19 pandemic is still in full swing in our country, and social distancing is highly encouraged, the traditional New Year’s Eve celebrations may be put on hold. Small, immediate family gatherings are likely to happen, which have many wondering how they can properly celebrate this holiday. However, just because the gathering may be smaller doesn’t mean that New Year’s Eve should lack old and new traditions, from rituals like enjoying fresh champagne at midnight to kissing one’s love. While the large parties may not be happening, these routines can still occur. Looking for inspiration on how to make your own small celebration unique this year? Read on for a few ideas from other cultures on how they celebrate the New Year!
Denmark- Watch out below! Talk about taking out some of the 2020 stress! This country has several fun traditions to enjoy. First off, Danes enjoy listening to the Queen’s speech while waiting on the official clock to chime at the Royal Palace in Copenhagen. However, one of the most fun traditions is Denmark’s annual rite to take out any personal stress on unused dishes. Every year many head outside to slam down and break old dishes. Danes also enjoy climbing on top of chairs to literally JUMP into the New Year!
Ireland- Let’s clean! The Irish have some celebrations that anyone who loves a tidy house would enjoy! One of the first traditions they partake in is to spot-clean their entire house. Outside, the Irish even clean up their garden and cars. As it gets closer to midnight, it is also tradition to throw bread at the walls to chase away evil spirits. (Although this seems to contradict the cleaning.) One of the most special traditions, which all can employ this year, is to have an “Irish Special Dinner,” where you reminisce about family and close friends who passed away. To honor these loved ones, the Irish often leave the door unlatched and set a place for them at the table.
Spain- Bring on the grapes! Spain is a country known for its delicious wine. While many Spaniards do enjoy some “vino” to celebrate, this is not the only way they commemorate the holiday. The Spanish tradition is to eat 12 grapes, one at a time at midnight. Each grape represents one of your wishes, and if you manage to stuff every grape into your mouth, all your dreams will come true! Another fun custom is to wear colored underwear, with specific colors representing a different hope for the New Year.
Australia- Bring on the sun! Australians enjoy a new year in the middle of summer. This said, their celebrations take on a slightly different approach to the holiday. Many enjoy activities outside, from boating to hiking. At midnight, many in Sydney watch the fireworks over the famous Sydney Harbor.
South Africa- Out with the old, in with the new! During New Year’s Eve, those in South Africa are expected to throw out any old furniture. They do so by throwing it out of the window and into the street! Many also enjoy heading to Cape Town to attend a special carnival with singing, dancing, and lots of bright clothes and face paint.
Peru- Let’s enjoy some potatoes! A unique Peruvian tradition is one that involves their beloved crop—the potato. Many Peruvians enjoy a fun custom that involves putting three potatoes under a chair. One of these potatoes is peeled, one is partially peeled, and the other has all its skin. At midnight, a person chooses a potato with their eyes closed, and each yields a prediction for the future. If you happen to be the one that gets the potato with skin, you’ll be prosperous; getting the one that’s partially peeled means you’ll have a normal year, and finally, if you are the unlucky one who gets the potato with no skin, you’re not likely to make much money that year.
China- Sending loved ones “special mail.” The Chinese have several fun New Year’s Eve traditions to celebrate this holiday. However, one of the most unique and thoughtful rituals is how families give out “lucky” (pretend) money to their loved ones. This money is put into red envelopes, with their family members’ names on the outside. Once they open the envelope, they will find the good luck money, along with a special message written to them in gold.