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10 Interesting New Year's Rituals Travellers Should Know About


Last year Travel + Leisure magazine came up with some places with interesting New Year’s traditions. We found their list in the's travel section. We thought that these games and rituals were excellent for JourneyWomen to know about especially if you were ever in these parts of the world ushering in the New Year. Here's a brief look at their top 10.


At midnight, it's customary to quickly eat 12 grapes, one at each stroke of the clock. Each one signifies good luck for one month of the coming year.


Folks predict their fortunes for the coming year by casting molten tin into a container of water and interpreting the shape the metal takes after it hardens. A heart or ring shape means a wedding, a ship signifies travel. a pig means lots of good food.


Since 1951, they've shown a TV music show called Kohaku Uta Gassen, which means "Red and White Song Battle" and features celebrity music stars in sing-offs, where audience votes whether white team (men) or red team (women) win. Paul Simon and Cyndi Lauper apparently have participated.


Unmarried women play games to predict who will get hitched in the new year. In one game a pile of corn is put in front of each woman and a rooster is let loose. Whatever pile he approaches first shows which woman will be the first to marry.


Round shapes, which represent coins, symbolize prosperity. There are heaps of round fruits on dining tables. Some folks eat precisely a dozen fruits at midnight. Polka dots also are thought to bring good luck, being round and all, and are quite prominent.


People stand on chairs and jump off them at the same at midnight to banish good spirits and bring good luck.


On what they call Hogmanay, the first person to cross the threshold of a home in the new year should bring a gift for good luck. In the village of Stonehaven, folks parade around while swinging giant fireballs on poles.


Effigies of well-known people – called munecos – are burned in new year's bonfires. The effigies represent the old year and burning them drives away evil spirits.


They used to try to eat seven times on New Year's Day to ensure there would be abundant food, which seems counterproductive. Nowadays, it's a Euro party capital and folks gorge on alcohol instead.


Folks wear special underwear in places like Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela. Red means love; yellow means money.


Picked up in passing...

Traditionally, on the stroke of midnight, the ENGLISH open the back door to let the old year out and ask the first dark haired man to be seen to come through the front door carrying salt, coal and bread. This means that the following year everyone in the house will have enough to eat, enough money and be warm enough.

Probably the most spicy custom takes place in ITALY. Both men and women traditionally wear red underclothes which are said to bring good luck in the coming year. To ensure happy relationships in the new year, a romantic night on New Year's Eve is also 'necessary'. A traditional dish served on this night is lentils and cotechino orzampone, both types of pork: they symbolise abundance in life and fortune.

Special value is given to the food served on New Year's Eve in the CZECH REPUBLIC. It must be ensured that no animal meat ends up in the pan. Why? Because they once had legs, and the the luck would hop or fly away! Fish dishes are just as unpopular, due to the fear that luck could swim away. This is why the Czechs will often eat lentils or soup with small peas. According to tradition, a person can thus ensure a good financial situation for the entire coming year.

In DENMARK it is a good sign to find your door entrance heaped with a pile of broken dishes. Old dishes are saved year around and thrown at the doors of friends' homes for good luck. Finding a big pile of broken dishes on the morning of January 1 means you have lots of friends and that you'll have good relationships throughout the year.

(Courtesy of





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Culturally Correct Dos and Taboos



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