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New Year’s Traditions Far and Wide

NEW YORK, NY – DECEMBER 31: Thousands of revelers gather in New York’s Times Square to celebrate the ball drop at the annual New Years Eve celebration on December 31, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty

Once again it’s the end of the year. Most of us will be sitting around the TV watching the ball drop at midnight in New York City’s Time Square. There will be house parties, bar hopping, and couples curled up in front of the fire and — well you know the rest.

At our house it’s black eyed peas and a kiss at midnight for good luck and prosperity in the coming year. But each country seems to have it’s own traditions that you might want to adopt as your own. Here are a few samples:

Spain

If you happen to be close to Madrid on New Years Eve make sure you have some grapes with you. Folks around you will be eating one grape for every stroke of the clock at midnight. This custom is supposed to provide good luck for each of the twelve coming months. You could also wash them down with some liquid grapes.

South Africa

Some folks go just a little too far on New Years Eve in Johannesburg, South Africa. You do not want to be under a window because you might get hit with a flying toaster or other household appliance. South Africans pitch old appliances out their windows on New Years Eve. Gives new meaning to, “out with the old and in with the new.”

Central and South America

The marketing departments of Michael Jordan and Hane’s need to get on board with the tradition of wearing “lucky” underwear on New Years Eve. Revelers in Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador shop the streets looking for undies in yellow, for luck and money, or red for love. Do speedos count?

Denmark

Martha Stewart might freak if you brought this Danish tradition to her New Years party. Danes ring in the New Year by smashing old glasses and plates against the doors of their friends and relatives. You know that sister you don’t like? Now’s your chance. No word on who does the cleanup.

Danes also believe jumping “into” the New Year will bring good luck and prosperity. They stand on chairs in groups and jump off at the stroke of midnight. I would suggest you begin drinking after the jump rather than before. Highchairs or bar stools are optional.

Ecuador

The folks down south have two unique traditions that I don’t think have much chance of catching on in the US. Neighbors all go out in their front yards and burn scarecrows they have made out of paper and wood and dressed up to scare off the bad demons in the coming year.

Even more bazaar is the tradition of teenage boys dressing up as women with enlarged busts and derrières enhanced with pillows or balloons. Traffic jams are common as they dance up and down the street begging for money. I wonder if this pays better than being on the radio?

Some Final Thoughts

I don’t think I want to jump off any chairs or dress up and dance up and down the streets. I think my personal favorite is the 12 grapes that the Spaniards do. Seems safe, healthy and fun. What are your special New Year’s traditions and how will you ring in the New Year?

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