20 Lucky New Year’s Traditions from Around the World
Looking for every—and any—New Year's charm that'll bring you the luck you lust after? Take inspiration from these January 1 customs from around the world and we promise you'll have your best year yet!
Japan: Ring a bell 108 times
There's nothing quite like greeting the New Year a full 12 hours ahead of your friends and family in the United States. So why not take full advantage of the fun, interesting customs that come with Japanese culture? For those ringing in the start of a new 365 days in Tokyo, Kyoto, or any other region in Japan, listen for the bells at midnight. Here, tradition dictates that Buddhist temples ring bells 108 times, based on the belief that it brings cleanness. And no, not via that junk drawer you should have cleaned out a decade ago, but in your heart, mind, soul, and body. It's called joya no kane, and the reasoning behind the specific number is attributed to the 108 types of earthly desires humans are thought to have. By ringing the bells, you are said to leave your old, sad, or frustrated self behind and sing in your new year with a clear mind and happier resolutions.
South Korea: Soup for the soul
There's nothing like a hot bowl of soup to warm the soul in the winter, but South Korea's tteokguk, dish made of broth, rice cakes, meat, and vegetables, is imperative to the country's New Year traditions. South Korean New Year, known as Seollal, usually falls in late January or early February, and the soup is believed to bring those who eat it good luck in the new year, according to Culture Trip. Which of these movies with major New Year's scenes have you seen?
Turkey: Smash pomegranates
This one feels festive but messy. In Turkey, locals smash pomegranates on their doorways for New Year's. The belief is that your good fortune in the coming year is directly proportional to the number of seeds that fly out of the fruit upon impact, so put some aggression behind that throw! Find out the best places to go for family-friendly New Year's celebrations.
Finland: Cast some metal
If you're feeling crafty, do as the Finnish do to predict what is to come in the year ahead. In Finland, locals cast molten tin into water, carefully inspecting the shape it takes once it has hardened. An animal might mean there will be an abundance of food, while a heart could forecast love in the coming year.
Germany: Eat a sugar pig
Germans believe that pigs equal wealth, so for New Year's, it's commonplace to eat glücksschwein, a pig-shaped candy, for a dose of luck in your wallet. Made from marzipan, they're both adorable and sweet, and they're thought to bring good luck for the year ahead. Make your own luck with these 13 tips from people who actually kept their New Year's resolutions.
Romania: Toss a coin
It might seem counterintuitive to literally throw your money away, but in Romania, that's exactly what they do for good luck at the start of a new year. Don't worry—they aren't emptying their bank accounts. However, it's believed that tossing a coin in a river will bring you luck throughout the year. So will dropping a ball, we seem to think. Here's the history of why we drop a ball to ring in the new year.
Bolivia: Bake coins into sweets
Bolivia has a sweet (and profitable) New Year's tradition. Coins are baked into cakes for a festive activity. The person who receives the slice with the coin is thought to have a prosperous year ahead. Baked goods and good luck? That does seem like an embarrassment of riches. You're setting yourself up for failure if you make these 19 New Year's resolutions that experts say are impossible to keep.
Italy: Eat lentils
Move over, pasta. It's lentils that take center stage on New Year's in Italy. These legumes are thought to bring good luck for the coming 365 days, thanks to the fact that they resemble coins. According to Culture Trip, the lentils are typically paired with pork sausage, a fatty meat rich in flavor that also evokes a prosperous sentiment.
Burma: Wash away bad luck
The Burmese take part in the Thingyan Water Festival at the start of their new year, which occurs in April, to wash away any bad luck they may have previously experienced. During the Buddhist holiday, the streets of Burma are busy with revelers basking in sprinklers to ensure plenty of good fortune in the future. Check out these quirky things people drop instead of a ball to ring in the new year.
Estonia: Eating for seven
If you think Thanksgiving consists of a gluttonous meal, wait until you hear what Estonians do for good luck on New Year's Eve. Their tradition is to eat at least seven meals on December 31 (though some consume even more). According to custom, this means that they will harness the strength of seven men in the new year. Plus, if you celebrate with a bounty of food, the abundance is thought to carry into the next rotation around the sun. Do you own any of these unlucky things you might not want to keep in your home?