Champagne, Fireworks, and Empty Suitcases
Ringing in the new year is an opportunity to put away the past and start with a clean slate. In many cultures, cleaning the house prior to the new year (and no cleaning on New Year’s Day!) is the ultimate way to close out one year and be ready for the next.
At midnight on New Year’s Eve, it’s customary in Spain to quickly eat 12 grapes (or uvas) —one at each stroke of the clock. Each grape supposedly signifies good luck for one month of the coming year. In Madrid,Barcelona, and other Spanish cities, revelers congregate in the main squares to gobble their grapes together and pass around bottles of cava.
Many people in France start New Year’s Day at midnight while celebrating with friends or family members. Public and private fireworks displays are common. Many people drink champagne, sparkling white wine or hot wine vin chaud. People may also sing songs such as The song of a New Year Chanson du nouvel, and an adaptation of the Scottish Auld Lang Syne Choral des Adieux to mark the start of the New Year at midnight.
One of Latin America’s most colorful — and bizarre — traditions is the year-end burning of the dummies. When the clock ticks over at midnight, an observer with a good vantage point in Cuenca will behold an other-worldly sight of thousands of burning dummies and a sky filled with smoke and fireworks. Think Danté’s hell. Think Mad Max. Think Happy New Year.
Many people in Denmark ring in the new year by jumping off chairs in unison at midnight. The jump is said to rid a person of whatever negative spirits he’s carrying and usher in a brand new year of good luck.
What else? Broken dishes of course! Danes save old dishes during the year and then throw them at the houses of friends on New Year’s Eve. Finding heaps of broken dishes on your doorstep signifies you have many friends.
Grab an empty suitcase and run around the block at midnight. The belief is this will bring travel opportunities in the coming year. What are you waiting for… grab your carry-on and run!