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Unusual New Year’s Celebrations from around the World

By Lance Trebesch December 30, 2013

Grapes, Mistletoe, and Dead Spirits Make Up Global New Year’s Traditions

In America, there are tons of unique New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day traditions. In the south, people eat black-eyed peas and collard greens to bring in good luck and a prosperous new year. In Pasadena, California, the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl are the first events of the new year. And, of course, in New York, thousands of people from the states and around the world flock to Times Square to see the big crystal ball drop New Year’s Eve. But what do people in other countries do to ring in the new year? Here’s a quick rundown of how the rest of the world celebrates the new year.

The Spanish celebrate the beginning of the new year with grapes. Once the clock strikes 12 a.m., people eat 12 grapes. The grapes, according to Mental Floss, represent each month of the year and each toll of the clock’s bell. Mental Floss states that the eating of grapes is thought to bring good luck and the tradition goes back to 1909, when the king, Alfonso XIII, gave grapes to his subjects on New Year’s Eve after a tremendous harvest in the town of Alicante.

Ireland uses the new year as a way to find love. According to Smashing Lists, single women place mistletoe under their pillows on New Year’s Eve in the hopes of reeling in their future husband. There’s another reason for placing mistletoe under pillows—Smashing Lists states that the custom is believed to keep bad luck at bay.

France also celebrates the new year with mistletoe. According to Mental Floss, many of the French kiss under the mistletoe at midnight. Also, the French celebrate the new year with delicious stacks of pancakes.

Puerto Rico rings in the new year in a loud way. Mental Floss states that folks in Puerto Rico ring church bells, blast car horns, beat drums and sound off boat whistles in order to drive bad spirits away. Some people also throw buckets of water from windows to ward off the evil eye. Another thing many Puerto Ricans do to keep bad sprits at bay—they drop backwards into ocean waves at midnight.

According to Smashing Lists, Mexico uses the new year as a time to connect to the other side. Many Mexicans believe that New Year’s Eve is the best time to communicate with the dead in order to gain advice or send messages.

What do you think about these traditions?