New Year’s Traditions Around the World

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Another year has arrived, and each country celebrates the New Year with special traditions. Even though spring is the season of renewal, the New Year clearly represents a spiritual time to choose to invite new energy into our life. This article will explore various traditions from around the world that reflect certain spiritual goals through specific actions and traditions.

The United States

There are five key traditions and actions for New Year’s Eve in the United States.

Making New Year’s Resolutions

On the first day of the new year, people list goals they set for the next year, which may include breaking a bad habit or making some kind of self-improvement, like getting into shape. Amusingly, the narrative has evolved to include the fact that most of these resolutions are short-lived or never really attempted. But, on a spiritual level, people are aware that they should try to achieve something with each new year.

Watching the “Ball Drop” in New York’s Times Square, live or on television

This tradition started in 1907 and is considered a moment when all the attention of the country is focused on a shared event. The number of people sharing the experience on television and through social media easily exceeds 1 billion.

The New Year’s Kiss

The New Year’s Kiss has a deeply spiritual meaning; if you are able to find someone to kiss at midnight on New Year’s Eve, then you will ward of loneliness and evil spirits for the next year.

Singing “Auld Lang Syne”

A Scottish ballad written by Robert Burns and first performed by Guy Lombardo and his band in 1929, has become another tradition used to ring in the new year. It is a song about remembrance and not letting others be forgotten.

Hoppin’ John

There is a regional tradition, called “Hoppin’ John”, which is a southern dish of black-eyed peas, pork, and rice eaten on New Year’s Day to bring good luck and prosperity.

Spain – Eating Grapes for Good Luck

Consuming 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight is a tradition that started in the 19th century. Eating a grape with each chime of the midnight bell is said to help bring good luck and prosperity.

Greece

Hanging Onions

In Greece, the onion is considered a symbol of rebirth, so hanging them on your door promotes growth and prosperity. Onions are hardy root vegetables that will grow where there is proper soil, sun, and water present. They have many health properties, including antioxidants and the ability to reduce inflammation.

Smashing Pomegranates on your Door

On New Year’s Eve, you throw a pomegranate against your door and count the number of scattered seeds. The greater the number, the better luck you will have. Also, the pomegranate represents fertility and abundance, so its use in rituals is common.

Japan

Consuming Soba Noodles

The custom involves eating soba noodles on New Year’s Eve. The noodles are a symbol of a long and healthy life. The specific ritual is known as toshikoshi soba, or year-crossing noodles, and is something you can do on December 31st to invite in a strong new year.

Ringing Bells

Buddhist temples will ring their bells 108 times, 107 times on New Year’s Eve, and 1 time when the clock strikes midnight. This tradition is known as joyanokane and is intended to dispel the 108 evil desires in all people while simultaneously clearing the sins of the previous year.

Turkey – Sprinkling Salt

The sprinkling of the salt takes place as the clock chimes at midnight and is done to promote peace and prosperity. Salt is a purifying mineral, very often used in many forms of ritual magic and as a spiritual cleansing agent when performing a ceremony.

Russia

Drinking Ashes

You write your wishes down on small pieces of paper, then burn them. Take the ashes and add them to a glass of champagne and drink the mixture. This ritual will help your dreams for the next year come true.

Planting Underwater Trees

A very new tradition started in the mid-1990s, involves people traveling to Lake Baikal with a decorated tree that two divers will take into the depths of the lake. One of the divers is Father Frost and the other is the Ice Maiden. This tradition promotes renewal and prosperity.

Brazil – Throwing White Flowers into the Ocean

Casting white flowers into the ocean on New Year’s Eve is an offering to the ocean goddess Yemoja. With the offering of the flowers, the seafaring country hopes to win her favor to receive her blessing for the next year.

Italy – Wearing Red Underwear

In Italy red is a color associated with fertility, so wearing red underwear on New Year’s Eve is done in the hopes of conceiving in the next year.

Denmark – Smashing Plates

It is a tradition to throw plates and saucers at the doors of your neighbors. Spiritually, this action serves two purposes. One, it helps you leave any ill-will or bad luck from the last year behind. And two, the larger the pile in front of your door, the greater the luck you will have for the upcoming year.

Armenia – Baking Luck into Bread

When preparing bread on New Year’s Eve, good luck is “intended” for each batch of dough, so the bread that is made will be filled with good luck that others can consume on New Year’s Day.

Philip Young, PhD

I am a spiritual adviser located in Durham, North Carolina. I earned my PhD in English from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1996 and had a career in academics until 2007, when I retired to become a stay-at-home father. In 2013 I “hung out my shingle” starting my business Black Unykorn Enterprises, LLC. I provide spiritual guidance using different tools: astrology, tarot/oracle cards, numerology, and past life regression (using muscle testing). With a home office, Zoom, WeChat, and WhatsApp, I work with local clients in person and distance clients from around the world. You can read about my practice and contact me through my website: https://www.blackunykorn.com. Philip Young, PhD Website