If you’re in Scotland, make sure the first person to enter your house after midnight is a handsome man. And in Nigeria, make sure it’s a pretty lady.
While New Year’s Eve is celebrated in most places around the world on December 31, this hasn’t always been the case.
New Year’s Day was celebrated on January 1 for the first time in 45 B.C., but this fell out of practice during the Middle Ages.
Greeks used to celebrate the New Year on December 20 – the winter solstice, while the ancient Egyptians, Phoenicians, and Persians began their new year with the autumnal equinox around September 20.
It wasn’t until 1582 that the modern Gregorian calendar was implemented which determined that the New Year would start on January 1 and every four years would be a leap year.
But how do people celebrate the New Year around the world? While many countries celebrate with a fireworks display and a kiss with their significant other, other countries follow some weird and wonderful traditions …
1. Inviting a handsome man into your home, Scotland
If you do happen to know a tall, dark and handsome man (or if you kiss one on New Year’s Eve) make sure they are the first person you invite into your home in the New Year.
This age-old tradition of ‘first-footing’ suggests the first person to enter your home in the New Year will determine your luck for the following 12 months. Tall, dark and handsome men are considered the luckiest – and it’s a bonus is they come bearing whiskey.
2. Place mistletoe under your pillow, Ireland
Singletons, listen up. In the land of luck, placing mistletoe under your pillow before you go to sleep is said to bring you luck in love over the coming year.
3. Throw your furniture from your window, Italy
Tossing out your old possessions symbolises that you are ready to embrace the New Year. Naples residents have reportedly thrown everything from toasters to fridges from their balconies, so watch your head.
4. Wearing polka dots, Philippines
In the Philippines, roundness is thought to signify prosperity and so the locals surround themselves with round shapes on New Year’s Eve – including donning themselves in polka dots, filling their pockets with coins and stocking up on oranges.
5. Breaking a plate, Denmark
If you need to get rid of a chipped plate, save it until New Year’s Eve and throw it at your friend’s door. In Denmark it is thought the more broken plates you find outside your door, the more friends and luck you will have in the New Year. Be wary, this tradition is rarely practiced nowadays so perhaps don’t go throwing plates at doors.
6. Throw white flowers into the ocean, Brazil
This act is seen as an offering to the Goddess of the Sea, Yemanja. Brazilians carry out this custom hoping she will grant their wishes for the following year.
7. Eat 12 grapes at midnight, Spain
In Spain you are meant to eat one grape with each of the 12 chimes of the clock to secure 12 months of happiness.
This tradition is a century old and dates back to 1909 when there was a grape harvest so big that the King decided to give the surplus to the people to consume on NYE.
8. Eat lentils, Brazil
Other than throwing white flowers into the sea, Brazilians also eat lentils as they represent money meaning good fortune for the year ahead.
9. Dressing up as bears, Romania
In Romania, it is tradition for people to don real bear skins and parade through the streets to celebrate the New Year. The festival known as Ursul is thought to ward off evil spirits.
10. Wearing red underwear, Turkey
Turkish residents don red underwear for New Year’s Eve as wearing red brings good luck.
11. Walk an empty suitcase around the block, Ecuador
In Ecuador, residents walk their empty suitcases around the block to ensure th
at the year ahead is filled with travel.
12. Loony Dook, Scotland
On New Year’s Day, thousands of Scottish people throw on fancy dress and go for a swim in the freezing Firth of Forth at South Queensferry in Edinburgh. This has taken place since the 80s but only recently became part of their official Hogmanay programme.