15 Ways to Celebrate New Year's Eve Around the World
While the Times Square ball drop on New Year's Eve is undeniably iconic, more parties and different traditions take place in other time zones. Here's a look at how countries around the world will mark the start of 2014:
If you want to ward off evil spirits, wear all-white clothes on New Year's Eve. Other Brazilian traditions include jumping over seven ocean waves (one for each day of the week) and throwing flowers into the sea.
Eating a spoonful of lentils at midnight and putting money at the bottom of your shoe is supposed to bring you prosperity for the next 12 months. But if you're more daring, you can spend the night at a graveyard and ring in the new year with your deceased loved ones.
China did invent fireworks, so did you really expect the Chinese to go without a dazzling pyrotechnic display? It's also customary to dress in red and to give children allowance money in red envelopes.
But like many other Asian countries, the Chinese celebrate the lunar year as well — so double the fun.
If you've been bitten by the travel bug, Cubans recommend that you circle your house with a suitcase when the clock strikes at midnight — it's meant to bring you traveling opportunities in the new year. For general good luck, try sweeping the house or throwing water out the window.
How do Danes show love for their friends and neighbors? By smashing plates and glasses against their houses. For extra good luck, it's customary to stand on top of a chair and leap off at midnight.
Well, this is certainly a way to begin the new year on a cathartic note: Ecuadorians enjoy burning effigies of politicians (and other people they don't like) at midnight. It's meant to get rid of the negative energy of the past year. (Variations of this take place in Panama, Paraguay, and Colombia.)
If political demonstrations aren't your thing, you can also hide money around the house to bring you prosperity in the new year. Finders, keepers, I guess?
Tea leaves are for posers. If you really want to know how your future looks in the new year, you can go the German (and Austrian) way – melt some lead in a spoon, throw it in cold water, and interpret the shape.
But a truly bizarre tradition is the Germans' fascination with an obscure British TV sketch called "Dinner for One." Though the program is virtually unknown in England, the 18-minute, black-and-white show is a favorite of the Germans on New Year's Eve, and has won a Guinness world record for most repeated TV show of all time.
In Greece, new year's carols are common, and children often sing them to receive money from family and neighbors. When the countdown begins, families turn off the lights so that they can start the new year with fresh eyes.
Another important tradition is eating Vasilópita, a cake with a coin or another small object hidden inside. Whoever receives the slice with the coin gets good luck for the next year.
For Buddhists, the zodiac calendar is important. Many people celebrate that year's animal (2014 is the year of the horse) and visit temples, where the bells chime 108 times. It's also important to clean the house and to resolve conflicts from the past year, so that you can start the new year with a clean slate.
10. The Netherlands
Every year, the Dutch participate in carbide shooting, which is a fancy term for blowing up milk cans. (It's dangerous and prohibited in many cities, but that hasn't stopped many adventurous teenagers from partaking in this tradition.)
For those who are less inclined to amateur explosive devices, the New Year's Dive is an opportunity for thousands of swimmers to half-nakedly brave the freezing waters of the North Sea.
11. The Philippines
A fashion statement is always a good way to start the new year on the right note. Filipinos enjoy wearing polka dots on New Year's Eve, while carrying coins in their pockets. Round objects signify prosperity, so many families eat and display round fruits such as oranges and grapefruits.
How far are you willing to go to make a wish come true? Would you write down your wish on a piece of paper, burn it, put the ashes in a glass of champagne, and drink it down? If not, you're clearly not as hardcore as the Russians.
Other traditions include a New Year's tree, and a Santa-like figure named Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost), who distributes gifts to children with his granddaughter, Snegurochka (Snow Maiden).
Some people just want to get wasted on New Year's Eve — the Scots want to bring presents to their friends and neighbors. If you are "the first foot" to enter a person's house, you have to come bearing gifts, which are usually small tokens, such as bread and whiskey. Bonfires and large fireballs are also common traditions.
Of course, we also have to thank the Scots for that great New Year's Eve staple, "Auld Lang Syne." Poet Robert Burns' song is played around the world on this day, even in non-Anglophone countries.
14. South Africa
Watch out, pedestrians! In Johannesburg, it's common to throw old furniture and appliances, like TVs and radios, out the window.
In Spain — and in many other Spanish-speaking countries — it's common to eat 12 grapes at midnight, to bring good luck for each month of the new year. Sounds easy, right? Except you have to eat one grape each time the bell tolls.