We're all familiar with the traditions of our new year. We find a cool party, rock out and stay up super late on New Years Eve. We watch the ball drop with Dick Clark, yet again, usually with the help of a few alcoholic beverages. We seek out a first kiss for when the clock strikes 12. And, aside from all-day football and the raging hangovers we nurse on Jan. 1, we ponder life changing goals and resolutions that seem to be made only to be broken.
The New Year holiday isn't just for Americans. Countries around the world have their own traditions, and superstitions, tied to this first night.
Most are probably familiar with the Chinese New Year. The 15-day celebration will begin on Jan. 23 this year, ushering in the year of the Dragon. Symbolically marking the end of winter, the Chinese New Year is considered the most traditional Chinese holiday. This centuries old festivity is full of custom and tradition including thoroughly cleaning the house to sweep away any ill-fortune, decorating in red to symbolize good fortune, happiness and longevity and letting off firecrackers to scare away evil spirits. A large feast is also served on the eve—including special foods that carry further superstition.
Some may also be familiar with the traditions of Scotland. Calling their new year celebration Hogmanay, the Scottish observe a "first foot" tradition waiting for the first guest to enter the home after midnight as a way to predict their fortune for the upcoming year. A dark-haired man is considered the bearer of good luck and prosperity. Also, Scotland is known as the birthplace of the song Auld Lang Syne, meaning "old long since," which is credited to traditional Scottish folk poet Robert Burns.
Other notable traditions:
Danish traditionalists will find a doorstep of broken dishes on New Years day. Thrown at the door through the night, the more broken pieces you have, it is thought the greater the number of friendships.
Spaniards celebrate the clock striking 12 by challenging themselves to eat 12 grapes before the final ringing of midnight.
Dutch culture holds bonfires of Christmas trees to signal the cleaning and purging of the old year.