As we close out 2020, we look toward 2021 as a new year with hope for health and prosperity. While many of us cannot travel, we can experience the customs of other countries vicariously by reading about their traditions. Today, we update a previous blog about the diversity of ways people bring in the new year worldwide.
- Dirty Water: After house-cleaning, toss the dirty water out the front door to banish last year’s negativity and evil spirits; sprinkle sugar outside for good luck.
- 12 Pennies: Guatemalans toss 12 pennies over their back for wealth.
- Lentils: Place them in your pocket, outside your door, or snack on them before midnight for abundance and good luck the coming new year.
- 12 Grapes: Spaniards, Latin Americans, Filipinas, and Filipinos will eat a dozen grapes at midnight. Each grape brings fortune for the next twelve months.
- 108 Bell Chimes: at midnight Buddhist Temples in Japan engage in a bell ringing ritual on New Year’s eve. In this Joya no Kane (除夜の鐘) tradition, the bells chime 108 times to remove all suffering and delusions from the past year.
- Burn the Old Year: From Mexico to Uruguay, people purchase and then burn paper-filled scarecrows, to represent letting go, and cleansing the old year.
- Break Old Plates: Many Danes save plates to toss at the doorstep of friends and family. The bigger the broken plate pile, the more friends you have!
- Suitcase Around the Block: At midnight, Latin Americans walk or run around the block with an empty suitcase hoping for a travel filled year.
- Onions: For Greeks, onions represent fertility, rebirth and growth; so hanging them inside the home generates blessings, health and longevity. Parents also tap their children’s heads with an onion on New Year’s Day.
- Colorful Underwear: South Americans, Spaniards and Italians are known to bring in the New Year by wearing colored underwear. Each color has a different meaning, so choose wisely.
· Red: More romance
· Yellow: Good fortune
· Green: Good luck
· Blue: Good health
· White: Peace and happiness
· Black: Bad luck
Gaining cultural insight into different global traditions expands our thinking and opens our minds. Discuss these customs with family and friends for a unique New Year’s Eve experience.
Sharon Schweitzer and Sophie Echeverry co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre and the Intercultural Communication Institute, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the Greater Austin Business Awards.
Sophie Echeverry is currently studying for her MBA at the EU Business School in Geneva, Switzerland. She is the former Corporate Marketing Manager and Event Coordinator at Access to Culture. Born and raised in Colombia, she’s a 2018 graduate with a B.B.A. in International Business and Marketing from Hult International Business School in San Francisco, CA. Sophie has co-written more than 30 blogs since graduation. She’s a passionate foodie, and an avid e-scooter rider. Follow her foodie Instagram account or Connect with her on LinkedIn.
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