An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves. ~Bill Vaughan
Happy New Year! I gathered up, for your enjoyment, and my own edification, several New Year’s Eve traditions from around the world (other than the partying and fireworks that abound).
So what’s all this red underwear about? Well, in SPAIN you should wear new red underwear on New Year’s Eve if you want love and passion in the coming year. Very cool. As you can see on this photo this makes for cheery displays in markets and shops. This is also a custom in other Latin countries, but it originated in Spain, where in the Middle Ages wearing bright colors was not allowed, so people wore them underneath their clothes — surely not in the form of underwear as we know it today. History suggests that in the Middle Ages women wore no undies at all. I tucked this bit of info away in my ESWK (Endless Store of Worthless Knowledge).
To bring happiness and good luck and to keep out evil spirits, people in JAPAN hang a shimekezari in front of their houses or on their doors, a rope of straw often decorated with fern leaves, oranges and so on. A lovely way to get creative and make works of art.
If you’re in the PHILIPPINES, make sure that at the stroke of midnight you have all your doors and windows open – including cabinets, closets and drawers – this so that good luck can enter for the new year. If you try that in cold climates, bad luck comes in and you’ll catch pneumonia or get frostbite.
In AUSTRIA, New Year’s Eve is called Sylvesterabend, the Eve of Saint Sylvester. A traditional punch is made of red wine and spices. Pigs are said to bring good luck and you’ll find decorative pigs everywhere, made of edible substances or not. Roast pork is eaten on New Year’s Day.
I understand Vienna is one big party on New Year’s Eve (I should have gone Vienna this year. It’s one flight away. Instead, I’m sitting in my office in Chisinau, Moldova, typing away at this post.)
Do you wish for safe travels in the new year? Do what the people in the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, CHILE and MEXICO do: Pack a suitcase and walk around the block at the stroke of midnight. Be aware that if you do that somewhere other than mentioned countries, you might get picked up and admitted to the loony bin.
In my native country, THE NETHERLANDS, we party, have lots of fireworks like most of the rest of the world, and we eat massive numbers of greasy, yummie oliebollen (oil balls). There’s also a newish tradition for New Year’s Day you might want to know about (or not): The Nieuwjaarsduik, or New Year’s Dive. A dive in freezing winter water, mind you – in the North Sea, or a lake or another body of water somewhere in the country.
The dive is sponsored by Unox, a company known for its soups and sausages. The
brave crazy ones don an orange hat-with-logo and after they’ve made the plunge and raced back out, they get a cup of Unox soup to warm up. Not everyone thinks a free cup of soup is worth it, but in Holland (The Netherlands) you can always find people ready to do crazy things for the hell of it. And there are always plenty of spectators to watch them do it.
That’s it for this New Year’s Eve. I wish you all a Happy, Healthy, Adventurous New Year!
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Please start the new year with a good deed and tell me of fun or weird New Year’s Eve traditions or superstition from your corner of the world. And if you have any pictures, I’d love to see them.