Christmas brings many traditions along with the festivities, but also, many superstitions that most of us strictly comply with despite not really believing in them that much. Would anyone dare not eat the 12 grapes before starting the new year? Who has dared not to enter the new year with a piece of red underwear?
There are many and different customs that surround the magical transfer into a new year. But not only in Spain. The whole world dresses up for December 31 and at unuk we want to take you travelling, even if just in spirit, to places where that day is lived in a special way. Ready? Here we go.
Italy: lentils as a wealth magnet
Let us start, perhaps, by one of the best known traditions in Italy. In ancient times, lentils were already given away in hope that they would convert into gold coins throughout the year. That’s why in Italy this is always the last dinner of the year. The more you eat, the better because lentils mean abundance and wealth for the new year. A tradition that, little by little, seems to be appearing also in Spain.
Denmark: broken china
The Danes set aside their calm and temperate character on New Year’s Eve. Tradition rules and in Denmark there is a double custom when it comes to farewell the year. The tableware is its first the victim since there are none that end up intact. It does not matter if the dinner has been better or worse, the dishes will end up being thrown against the ground or the wall of our love ones as a sign of affection and good wishes.
The second of the Danish traditions for year-end is to jump from a chair at midnight. Big and small, no matter the age, everyone jumps in unison to enter with good foot and energy into the new year. It is clear that the Danes do not want to release a year with neither stress nor sadness, thus laughter is a must with these two very unique traditions.
Philippines: colorful dots
It is unknown whether tradition has Spanish roots or not, but the truth is that in the Philippines does not understand new year without dots. They are everywhere and it is imperative to wear some garment with these small circles that represent fortune to whoever rocks them. No matter what it is in a shirt, dress, trousers or skirt as long as they have a pocket in which to put a pair of coins, all that is needed to make them sound exactly when the clock strikes midnight. With that, wealth, according to the defenders of this ritual, will knock on your door.
United Kingdom: punctuality has its prize
The British are very serious about getting to their appointments on time. And that’s precisely the leitmotif in New Year’s Eve: being the fastest guest, the one that arrives before the sites, the winner. So in the UK the last night of the year is lived as if it were a speed race. The objective? Be the first to arrive at the family or friends’ house where the celebration for changing years will take place. Being the first person in this ‘First Footing’ will mean taking the good energy and desires of the year that begins with you. Of course, never forget to bring a present, usually in the form of food, to the house to which it has been invited. It means that the hosts’ house will be never short of food for the next 365 days.
Uruguay: buckets of water
Regardless of the traditions of each country, there is a certain consensus when it comes to living the last night of the year as the perfect occasion to leave behind all the bad things and start a new cycle. In Uruguay that clean entering into the new year is taken very seriously. Which makes walking under the windows during the last night of the year a risky activity. Why? Tradition dictates throwing a bucket of water out the window to clean the house of bad vibrations and energies. Carrying an umbrella on that day is highly advisable indeed.
Mexico: purifying fire
From the water of Uruguay to the fire of Mexico, Peru or Venezuela. The flames are also a symbol of purification and in these Latin American countries, fire is very present on the last night of the year. It is usual to make dolls with old rags and then burn them as to eliminate with them all the bad things of the ending year.
In Europe there is no such tradition, instead they throw fireworks at midnight. It’s not exactly the same, but the fire is thus also present somehow. Water and fire, two antagonistic elements, which are nevertheless used for the same purpose throughout the world in a night charged with plenty of double meaning traditions. It does not matter if you eat grapes, lentils, jump from a chair or soak in water your neighbor below. The important thing is to enter the new year ready to take on new adventures that the following 365 days will bring us. The first of which could be to live first hand some of these curious traditions and enjoy a different Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebration. Are you on?