A majority of Americans will be staying at home this New Year’s Eve, spending time with friends and family, according to a survey by Hasbro Inc.
This goes against the rowdy traditions of past New Year’s Eves.
There are several American New Year’s Eve traditions that can be done in the home, such as cooking cabbage, sauerkraut or black eyed peas. All three of these foods are said to bring good luck and prosperity in the new year.
There’s also the New Year’s Eve kiss. Origins of the kiss are cloudy. Popular notion is that kissing your significant other or those closest to you at the stroke of midnight will strengthen the bond and predict a better future for the relationship. A lesser known notion comes from European origin. It is believed that masquerade balls during New Year’s Eve featured a kiss at midnight to purify the year ahead, while the masks were to symbolize evil spirits of the past.
Regardless of where American traditions come from, they are well-rooted in American culture — but what about cultures from around the world?
In Spain and several other Latino cultures, the eating of grapes is used to usher in the new year. At midnight, a grape is eaten for every chime — 12 grapes, 12 chimes. Each grape is believed to bring good luck for the next 12 months ahead.
Germans partake in the practice of molybdomancy. A practice where molten lead or tin is dropped into water and the ensuing shape is used to predict the future ahead. Germans and Finns participate in this tradition on New Year’s Eve. While the shapes of cooled metal are open to interpretation, many see the practice as a fun, light-hearted experience.
Scotland brings in the new year with Hogmanay and the “first-footing.” Just after midnight, a friend or neighbor enters a home bearing a symbolic gift. Gifts range from salt, to coal, shortbread or whiskey. The gift is supposed to bring good luck and prosperity to the home.
In perhaps one of the quirkier traditions, Ecuador’s men dress in women’s clothing to symbolize the “widow” of the year that’s passed. Ecuadorians also gather to burn life-sized dummies representing the misfortunes of the last year.
Regardless of the country, the theme of good luck, prosperity and family are constants. And whether you are out on the town or lounging at home … at midnight, grab a kiss, some food and sing Auld Lang Syne, which interestingly enough has been translated into more than 40 languages.