Despite ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, New Year’s Eve 2022 is set to be an amazing evening, full of excitement and hope for the year to come. If you’re wondering what to do on New Year’s Eve, why not explore the traditions of cultures from around the world?
From eating grapes to singing a New Year’s Eve song, there are several interesting customs you can learn about – and even try out yourself – to start 2021 on a positive note. Here are some of the coolest New Year’s Eve traditions from all around the world.
New Year’s Eve in Australia is a spectacular affair, with midnight fireworks shows taking place in all corners of the country. Fireworks are launched off bridges (including the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge), from jetties along the beaches, and even on riverbanks. People typically pack the streets to observe the celebratory displays.
In Australian Indigenous culture, the new year is widely considered a fresh slate and a time for unity. According to the Anangu Senior Tribal Elder Donald Fraser from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) lands in South Australia, transitioning into the new year is like “crossing a river. When the new year comes, we should leave everything behind and move on. Like going for a swim at the river, towards a better year, and make it a better year for all the people to enjoy together, black or white.”
At the stroke of midnight, it’s custom for Spaniards to quickly eat 12 grapes in 12 seconds. Each grape represents one month of the coming year; if you’re able to finish all 12 grapes within the designated time frame, it’s considered a symbol of good luck and good fortune for the new year.
On New Year’s Eve, it’s common for Brazilian locals to wear white clothing and throw white flowers into the sea. The gesture is seen as an offering to Iemanjá, the Afro-Brazilian Goddess of the Sea, who is known for blessing mothers and children. If your flowers float away in the waves, then your gift has been accepted by the goddess, meaning you will experience great prosperity in the new year.
What better way to ring in 2021 than with a New Year’s Eve song? Children in Greece wake up bright and early on New Year’s Eve to travel from house to house singing Kalanda, which is the Greek word for carol. They typically sing the same song at each house accompanied by sounds from a triangle, a type of small metallic musical instrument.
On the other hand, parents in Greece customarily hang an onion over the door for New Year’s Eve. The onion is said to have magical powers and is seen as a symbol of rebirth. At midnight, it is taken down; parents use it to wake their children in the morning by tapping them on the head.
In Japanese Buddhist culture, it is believed that humans have 108 passions and worldly desires, such as anger, greed and jealousy. In a custom known as joya no kane, temples all around the country ring a bell 107 times in the lead up to midnight on New Year’s Eve, before ringing it once at the stroke of midnight – one ring for each desire. The ceremony is said to banish these human sins and purify participants, giving them a clean slate for the coming year.
Historically, South African locals have taken the “out with the old and in with the new” mentality to an extravagant level on New Year’s Eve. In past years, residents have participated in the custom of throwing old furniture out the window and into the street. For safety reasons, this isn’t as widely practiced today; instead, the locals attend incredible fireworks displays and all-night parties. The South African capital, Cape Town, is particularly well-known for its amazing New Year’s Eve carnivals, which feature singing, dancing and face painting.
In past years, you have probably put a lot of thought into what outfit you will wear for your New Year’s Eve celebrations. However, you might not have planned it right down to your underwear. Believe it or not, that’s what happens in Mexico. The colour of your underwear is said to be a signal of what you will attract in the new year. If you wear red underwear, you’ll attract love. On the other hand, if you wear yellow underwear, you’ll attract money and happiness. White underwear will bring you calm, while black will grant you dignity.
In Chinese culture, as well as many other Asian cultures, the Lunar New Year is celebrated. The holiday marks the start of the new lunar cycle, and is widely regarded as one of the most important times in Asia. People celebrate Lunar New Year by participating in a variety of customs, including gifting money in red packets and deep cleaning their homes to wash away any bad luck from the last year. Food also plays a key role in Lunar New Year celebrations; common foods of choice include mandarin oranges, candied fruits and fish.
Lunar New Year is also celebrated in Asian communities around the world, including here in Australia.