New Year’s Eve traditions around the world

Here, grapes are an important part of New Year’s Eve, and are supposed to bring luck. At midnight, many Spaniards shove grapes in their mouths. One for each ring of the bells. If you miscount, you're in for trouble in the coming year. Supermarkets sell special tins with twelve grapes in them, just for New Year’s Eve. In the bar districts of the cities, just before twelve, street vendors sell little plastic bags with twelve grapes in them, for all those who didn’t manage to get hold of them in good time and don’t want to run any risks. Safe is safe.

In Greece, people gamble. Things get lively with games of cards or dice. The big new year games begin on the evening of the 31st of December and often last until dawn on the 1st of January. Country-wide, legally or illegally, a three-digit sum in the millions is gambled away. If you win, your luck should last all year. If you don’t win, you can still hope you will be lucky in love.

The Chinese like to be forerunners with regard to technology and progress. With regard to New Year, however, they are a little late to the party. On the 31st of December, dinner with friends and family is very peaceful. Chinese New Year celebrations are all the bigger for that, according to the traditional lunar calendar. Usually in the middle of February. Then, this country of billions practically comes to a stop for at least a week. All at once, several millions of Chinese people travel home to their native villages. On the evening before the New Year’s celebration, which is also referred to as the Spring Festival, little dumplings are traditionally eaten. Their form recalls old Chinese coins, and they therefore promise luck and wealth. There are fireworks all evening.

The Russians, known for their wild parties, herald the start of a ten-day celebration period with the last day of the year. On New Year’s Eve, Grandfather Frost and his companion Snegurotschka bring presents. All over the country, Jolka celebrations take place (Jolka means Christmas tree). Families sit together around Christmas trees and eat. Once the president’s speech on television is over, they drink to the New Year. But watch out: they celebrate according to the Julian calendar. Christmas isn’t celebrated until the night of the 7th of January, and the New Year isn’t until the 13th of January.

In the USA, lentils or lentil soup is often eaten for New Year. Why? As lentils are thought to look a bit like coins, they supposedly bring luck and money. And then there is also the rule “Nothing Goes Out”, according to which nothing is allowed to leave the house on the first day of the year, even rubbish. If it does, it means bad luck.

Here, red underwear on New Year’s Eve is an absolute must. If you want to be happy and successful, you should slip into some red underwear for the turn of the year. Each year, department stores and lingerie shops change their underwear displays shortly after Christmas at the latest. It doesn’t matter if you wear lace knickers or boxer shorts - the main thing is that they are red. To eat, there is traditionally pork knuckle with lentils. The hearty meal is said to bring luck with all things money-related.