New Year is the time to travel if you want to encounter a whole new set of traditions. All around the world, the end of one year and the beginning of another is when colorful and diverse rituals take centre stage. These are some of our favorites.
In Italy, wearing red underwear at New Year is thought to bring success. The traditional meal is zampone e lenticchie (pigs trotter and lentils), because the coin-shaped lentils symbolise prosperity for the coming year. There’s also the unusual custom of throwing old and unwanted items out of upstairs windows, believed to get rid of bad luck.
New York’s most famous New Year’s Eve tradition, the Times Square ball drop, dates back to 1907. Things have snowballed a bit since then – expect star-studded performances across two stages, plus fireworks. A little more low-key are the celebrations at Prospect Park, where every year the midnight fireworks blaze over historic Brooklyn.
As Big Ben strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve, a dazzling display of fireworks illuminates the Thames. All around the UK there’s the yearly chorus of Auld Lang Syne, and in Scotland (where Hogmanay is as celebrated as Christmas) there’s first footing – where the first person over the threshold after midnight brings traditional gifts.
In Mexico, it’s believed that if you eat twelve grapes and make twelve wishes on the countdown to midnight, those wishes will come true in the following year. If your wish is to travel, there’s another ritual for that – just take your suitcase round the block in the early hours of New Year’s Day.
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