NEW YEAR TRADITIONS FOR GOOD LUCK
Some NYE traditions probably seem a bit off-the-wall. Here are a few that seemingly come out of nowhere, but remain integral pieces of some countries’ annual New Year customs.
Colombia: One of Colombians’ favorite ways to celebrate the New Year is to carry an empty suitcase around the block. The tradition is meant to bring celebrants a year of travel (which hopefully will involve a little more packing).
Denmark: Many of the world’s New Year’s traditions revolve around the stroke of midnight: fireworks blasting off, the ball dropping, kissing a loved one, toasting with champagne, etc. In Denmark, people jump off of their chairs in unison at midnight. This symbolizes jumping forward into the new year and leaving bad things behind.
Belgium: In Belgium, Walloon and Flemish farmers rise early on New Year’s Day and promptly head out the stables to wish the cows (and other domesticated animals) a happy New Year. Though the origins of this tradition are unknown, the same thing is also practiced in Romania.
Finland: Going to a fortune-teller can either be a fun or harrowing experience. But one Nordic New Year tradition involves reading the future for yourself. Finnish people melt tin horseshoes, pour the molten metal into cold water, and use the resulting solid to gain insight into the coming year. Its shape and shadow supposedly tell-all, and a broken piece of tin is considered a sure sign of bad luck.
Japan: In Japan, Joya no Kane is a Buddhist ritual that takes place at midnight on New Year’s Eve. It involves ringing a bell exactly 108 times. Buddhists believe that we humans are entrapped by 108 different desires that keep us suffering. The chimes symbolize purification from the accumulation of these passions over the previous year.
Chile: In the small town of Tulca, Chile, it is tradition to spend the last night of the year at a sleepover at the cemetery. Locals believe that the souls of dearly departed friends and family come to hang around on the night of New Year’s Eve. So they make fires, bring food and drink, and decorate their loved ones’ graves for some ghostly quality time.
Ecuador: In Ecuador, los años viejos (the old years) is a beloved part of how to celebrate the New Year. People construct large scarecrows of those they don’t like and set them alight at midnight in order to burn away the ills of last year. Building the scarecrow is a family activity. While it’s mostly done for fun and laughs, controlling the bevy of fires is sometimes a serious undertaking.
Panama: Panama has a similar “viejo” tradition to the one in Ecuador. Only here the effigies are called muñecos. Rather than simply setting them on fire, the dolls are typically stuffed with fireworks in order to really get the festivities cranking.
A “Thank You” to Jonathon Engels – GreenGlobalTravel.com