Christmas and New Year’s Eve are the kind of holidays that you usually celebrate in more or less the same manner year after year. While it can provide a homely and cozy feeling when you repeat one and the same routine a certain number of times it can become boring, which is certainly not a feeling you would like to associate with celebrating. However, there is a way to liven things up a bit. In college, you are most likely to meet people coming from nations and cultures different from your own, and many of them have interesting traditions that you can borrow for that occasion. Ask around and look for what you can adopt or adapt for your purposes; and in this article, we will give you some examples.
The Philippines – Using Round Shapes
In the Philippines, people try to use as many round things as possible during their New Year celebration: round wall decorations, round foods, clothes with polka dots; as many and as diverse round things as their ingenuity can devise. Why? Circles symbolize coins, which, in turn, represent prosperity and riches. Quite often families place dishes with round-shaped fruits on their tables – it is considered to be good luck to eat exactly 12 round fruits during the celebration.
Spain – Eating Twelve Grapes
Something similar is practiced in Spain – there they eat twelve grapes for each stroke of the clock at midnight of New Year’s eve. Every grape symbolizes good luck for every month of the next year. It is not just a family custom – in larger cities, people gather in squares to eat their grapes together.
Finland – Fortunetelling with Molten Tin
In Finland, people traditionally try to predict what is going to happen to them in the coming year by throwing molten tin into the water and studying the shapes the metal takes after hardening. Heart- or ring-shaped pieces signify a wedding; a pig represents prosperity, while a ship predicts a lot of traveling.
Denmark – Plate Smashing
In Denmark, broken glass and china are considered good luck, which is why the locals tend to smash their unused plates against the doors of their friends and drop the pieces on the doorstep – it is supposed to bring good fortune throughout the next year. The larger is the pile of broken china at your door, the more friends you have.
Estonia – Eating Many Times a Day
In Estonia, numbers 7, 9, and 12 are believed to bring good luck, and eating that many times on a New Year’s Day is believed to ensure prosperity and abundance in the coming year. Those who are afraid of bursting adopt a more temperate variant of this custom and have a single seven-course meal instead.
Greece – Onion Hanging
In Greece and Crete, the locals tend to hang onions on their front doors to represent regrowth and rebirth in the coming year. How does onion signify these things? In fact, originally the custom has nothing to do with onions. It originates with the squill, a poisonous plant that resembles onion and has an unusual characteristic – it continues to sprout new leaves and flowers even after it is uprooted. By hanging it on one’s front door people mean to borrow its resilience and tenacity. Also, parents traditionally wake their children up the next day by smacking them on the head with an onion bulb – next time, try it out with your roommate and say that it is your family tradition.
South America – Effigy Burning
In many countries of South America, people burn scarecrows and effigies of well-known people (such as politicians, TV characters, and so on) filled with paper, as well as photographs of the things representing the past year. The purpose of the custom is to drive off evil spirits and leave in the past the bad things and ill luck that befell them throughout the last year. So why not make your own round spiky effigy and burn it with extreme prejudice?
China – Painting Front Doors Red
Red is considered to be the happiest and luckiest color in China, which is why it is always in high demand at weddings and during New Year celebrations. Painting your front door red or hanging red cutouts on it if you do not want to commit to a long-term redecoration is believed to bring good luck throughout the next year.
Germany – Doughnuts
German doughnuts (locally called Krapfen or Kreppel) have long been one of the symbols of the Silvester (the celebration of the New Year). They are usually filled with fruit jam or chocolate; however, if you are ever in Germany on New Year’s Eve, it would be wise to eat carefully, as the locals sometimes treat their guests with Krapfen filled with mustard as a prank. Now that’s a nice idea to try out on a particularly obnoxious roommate, isn’t it?
Japan – Long Noodles
Traditional New Year dish in Japan is toshikoshi soba – particularly long buckwheat noodles, symbolizing long life. Cutting it is considered bad luck, which is why you are supposed to slurp it down whole, thus ensuring many more New Years to meet.
Armenia – Pomegranate Throwing
Armenians believe that pomegranate fruit resembles the human heart, which makes it a natural symbol of vitality, fertility, and good health. Hence comes a tradition of throwing them down on the ground during the celebration of the New Year. The more seeds and pieces of the fruit spread on the ground, the more prosperous and fortunate the next year is going to be.
Brazil – Donning White
White is believed to be the color of good fortune and prosperity in Brazil, which is why people traditionally tend to wear it during the New year celebrations. They also throw white flowers in the sea.
As you can see, there are a lot of ways people celebrate the New Year, and you can adopt any number of them to spruce up your own celebration – especially if you do it with your friends from college.