As we bid farewell to 2021 and greet the new year, let’s count down these New Year’s traditions from around the world.
You might just want to adopt some to give yourself a leg up in 2022.
Scotland: First Footing
In Scottish culture, New Year’s Eve is such an important holiday that it has a special name: Hogmanay.
Hogmanay is believed to come from the French, “hoginane,” which means “gala day.”
One of the most interesting Hogmanay traditions is called “first footing.”
If you hope to have good luck in the new year, then you want the first person to cross your home’s threshold after midnight to be a dark-haired man.
This concept originates from the Viking era when an ax-wielding light-haired man appearing on your doorstep generally meant pillaging.
Thus, the opposing dark-haired man means good fortune – especially if they come bearing symbolic gifts of salt, shortbread, coal, and, of course, Scottish whisky.
Spain: Twelve Lucky Grapes
If you happen to be in Spain (or various Latin American countries) on New Year’s Eve, you’ll likely participate in “las doce uvas de la suerte” (“the twelve lucky grapes”).
This holiday tradition involves eating a dozen grapes, one for each month of the year, at the stroke of midnight.
The tradition dates back to the 19th century and is based in commercialism.
With the aim to sell more grapes at the year’s end, Alicante vineyards created and promoted the ritual.
The tradition has since acquired rules: you must eat a grape at each toll of the clock, allowing you about a second to consume each of them.
Those who finish all twelve grapes by the time the tolls end (no cheating!) will have good luck in the new year…if they don’t choke.
Japan: Year-Crossing Noodles
As 2021 turns to 2022, get your slurp on in Japan with toshikoshi soba.
Meaning “year-crossing noodles,” the custom involves eating a bowl of this special soba noodle in the new year in the hopes to enjoy a long and healthy life.
The length of the noodle and the resilient buckwheat plant used to make it represent these ideals.
The softer noodle is also easier to break, symbolizing “breaking off the old year” and parting with its troubles.
The tradition dates back centuries to the Kamakura period, where a Buddhist temple gave out soba to the poor on New Year’s, a concept that later turned into a ritual all over Japan.
Whatever traditions you choose to celebrate on New Year’s, I wish you good fortune and health in 2022!
Happy New Year!