The New Year is the time where we can start anew, right? New year, new you. But you can’t just go into the New Year as if it is any other day. It needs to be celebrated and blessed for positive vibes within the new year. Fortunately, there are age-old traditions that you can take part in to ensure that you enter the new year with luck, prosperity and fortune to give you that extra boost of confidence that you can use to conquer the New Year with ease.
Firstly you need 12 dried grapes (raisins). Why? It is believed that just before the clock strikes midnight 12 dried grapes should be eaten and the 12 wishes you have for the new year will be blessed for the New Year you are entering. Sound familiar to anyone from or, living in Spain? Well this tradition is shared between both countries. While each has their own culture, language and heritage it seems sharing a border has spread this tradition between both countries.
Another New Years tradition in Portugal involves money. There is a superstition that if the clock strikes midnight and you do not have any money with you, you will not bring wealth into the New Year. Around the country the tradition varies as some say money should be in your hand. Others keep some in their wallet and others even state it should be in your shoes! This tradition is to ensure you do not bring negative financial energy into the New Year and inspire prosperity. So make sure before the clock strikes midnight you have your raisins and money ready!
Le Réveillon de Saint-Sylvestre. This is a feast on New Years Eve that consists of traditional French foods such as pancakes, smoked salmon, foie gras, oysters, escargot and many other amazingly delicious dishes. Oh and you can’t forget the champagne of course! This dinner can be extremely grand affair or, calm, reserved and more intimate. This variation depends on the family and how each individual wants to spend their new year.
Share a kiss under the mistletoe to ward off dark spirits and bring good luck. Unlike many Anglo-Saxon traditions mistletoe is used during Christmas time but in France it is reserved for New Years traditions. Get ready to pucker up at midnight and watch the amazing firework display!
There is a tradition in Ireland that the future of the country is determined by the weather. This involves checking on the direction that the wind blows at midnight. If the wind is coming in from the West, there will be good fortune for the country. If the wind is coming in from the East, fortune will fall on the British. The “rivalry” between Ireland and the British goes back decades and New Years traditions reflect that. Even till this day both countries are connected with a deep history with each other that shows up in traditions such as this.
In addition, there is an Irish traditions that you must bang on the doors and walls of the house with the bread from Christmas to ward off bad spirits and any bad luck that may be lingering in the home.
In Sweden there is a tradition to watch a sketch called “Dinner for One''. This sketch is about an upper class English woman celebrating her birthday enjoying dinner with her friends who have passed. The deceased friends are each played by her butler who pretends he is each one of them therefore, drinking for 4 people. This tradition may sound familiar to the Danish readers as this sketch is also watched in Denmark during New Years festivities!
Another tradition involves hugging. When the clock strikes midnight you hug everyone in the room with you. During COVID this tradition was not done as much and it was on a smaller scale as family and friends could not come together as they did in the past. It does not matter how well you know them, whether it has been for years or, you met them a few hours ago and forgot their names, everyone gets a hug!
New Years in The Netherlands means taking a plunge into the sea. Yes you heard that right jumping into the sea in January! This tradition is known as Nieuwjaarsduik, The Polar bear plunge. Lakes and beaches around the country will have many people ready to make the dive after having a few drinks with their friends and family members.
To start the New Year right in Belgium you need sauerkraut. This side dish should be served as part of the main meal and the first meal of the year. But, this is not the most important step. Placing a coin under the plate is. This brings luck and prosperity into the new year!
Flemish and Walloon farmers rise early in the morning to even wish their animals on the farm a Happy New Year, how sweet is this!
Lentils are a symbol of money and good fortune and are the star dish of festivities. Traditionally in Italy there are many traditions in order to have good fortune in The New Year. Some of which is wearing red underwear to attract good luck. Throwing pots and pans out of the window to let go of the past and lighting a log on New Year's Day to deter evil spirits.
In Poland there is an old pagan tradition that Slavic people believe noise scares off evil spirits. Many decades ago people would run around making noise to drive out any misfortune in the new year. As time has gone on, this has evolved into firework displays and firecrackers that not only ward off the spirits but, also put on a beautiful show for families and friends to watch together to embrace the New Year.
This one is a little “strange”. Carp fish is eaten during the Christmas festivities as it is seen as bringing good luck. After all the Christmas festivities then begins the welcoming of the New Year. In order to do this some Poles carry around a fish scale in their wallet from the Carp as a source to draw in fortune and money into their lives. So if you are in Poland and something smells fishy while you are out celebrating, don’t be alarmed.
In Albania, preparation for New Years Eve starts with the Christmas tree. This is because the “Christmas tree” is known as the New Year Tree in Albania. This is due to the country's history and the way in which they were permitted to have celebrations in previous years. Another tradition some believe in is that Baklava is present on the New Year’s dinner table and should be eaten to ensure a positive sweet year ahead!
Whoever enters the home first will determine how the New Year will turn out. If the person is rich, poor, has a good heart or negative energy etc that is seen to determine the future of the people in that house. So be careful who you welcome into you house in the first days of January!
In previous decades there was a custom that Estonians should eat 7 times on New Year’s day in order to ensure an abundance of food would come within the New Year. Some go as far as to eat more than 7 and opt for other “lucky numbers” such as 9 and 12. The more meals a person eats during the day it is said that that person will have the strength of that number of men for the following year!
In Greece a big dinner with family is done with many traditional foods for families and friends to share together. Jewelry is put on a plate during the dinner and this is a symbol of prosperity within the New Year for all attending the dinner.
Once dinner is finished the dishes are not washed until the next day. This is because Santa Claus travels to Greece on New Year’s Eve and as a traveller, Santa Claus needs to refuel and it is rude not to leave a traveller with refreshments?! So, the dishes are left till the next day after Santa’s visit.
So those are some interesting traditions from some countries within Europe. Though some of these traditions originate from their home countries they may not be practiced as widely as they once were so take these traditions with a grain of salt and a bit of humour!
Happy New Year!
We hope 2022 has been an amazing year for you and that you enter 2023 filled with peace, happiness and excitement for what the new year holds. Have an amazing festive season whether you are chilling by yourself or with loved ones!!
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