In America, New Year’s Eve typically conjures images of beautiful fireworks, of elegant folk drinking champagne, and the ball dropping in Times Square. Here’s how other countries around the world celebrate the New Year in their own, sometimes quirky ways.
Sydney has one of the most spectacular fireworks shows in the whole world—seven tons of fireworks are shot up in the air and 52 illuminated boats in the harbor light up the city. Many Aussies also celebrate with a day at the beach where some run into the Atlantic Ocean.
The custom in China is to clean out one’s house before the New Year to rid oneself of all bad luck.
People generally gather around the Zojoji Temple in Japan to release wish filled helium balloons. In addition, food is important to the Japanese celebration. People feast on an array of fish cakes, sweetened black soy beans and simmered burdock root.
“Hogmanay” or the last day of the year is celebrated with a bang. People in Edinburgh like to party; its streets are filled with concerts, a torchlight procession and the world famous, family-friendly street party on Princes Street. At midnight, a cannon is fired from the Edinburgh Castle to kick off a beautiful fireworks display. Scottish people also practice the “first-footing,” where a friend or neighbor enters a home to offer a gift to bring luck in the New Year.
A German custom is to touch a chimney sweep or to rub some ashes on your forehead for health and luck. Germans also practice molybdomancy, when molten lead or tin is dropped into water and the shape that forms is used to predict the future.
In addition to eating grapes, people in Mexico prepare for the New Year by decorating their homes with different colors for what they want for their new year: red for love, yellow for employment, and green for money. Mexicans eat foods such as Rosca de Reyes or Mexican sweet breads that are baked with a coin or charm for luck inside.
Brazilians usher in the New Year by jumping into waves, dressing in white, eating lentil soup, and handing out money.
In perhaps one of the most eccentric traditions, men in Ecuador like to dress in women’s clothing as a way to show the “widow” of the past year. Ecuadorians also tend to burn life-sized dummies to rid themselves of the unfortunate moments of the last year.