Published on December 16, 2011 | by Daniela


NYE customs around Europe

New Year’s celebrations virtually exist in every country in the world. If you choose to be a little cultural this year and celebrate New Year’s in a different way somewhere around Europe, here are some of the most distinctive customs from all over the Old Continent on the 31 of December.

Noisy midnight…
Throughout the world, the custom of making noise to ring in the New Year is very popular, and is supposed to scare off any evil spirits. Nowadays, besides earsplitting Fireworks displays, any noise is used such as clackers, toy trumpets, whistles, and bells: all to be used at the stroke of New Year’s midnight.

Danish have a very noisy and… destructive way of celebrating the new year, as they actually break dishes. People throw their old dishes on their friends’ doors on New Years and the one with the most dishes outside their door, usually has the most friends.

Eating and drinking…
Legumes have always been considered good luck in many cultures. The hog, and thus its meat, is considered lucky because it symbolizes prosperity.

Therefore, in Italy, eating lentils, often in combination with pig’s trotter (zampone), on New Year’s Eve, is believed to bring good fortune all year.

However, other foods such as fruits, vegetables and cakes become “goodlucking” too, if consumed on New Year’s.
Spaniards and Portuguese, for example, eat 12 grapes at midnight, and try to consume all of them by the time the clock stops chiming. This is done to ensure twelve happy months in the coming year.

The Greeks celebrate the beginning of the New Year by sharing a traditional sweet bread into which a coin has been baked. The bread is sliced at midnight and whoever gets the coin is believed to have good luck for the year.

One of the most venerable New Years traditions is the champaign toast at midnight to ring in the new year. Toasting can be traced back to the ancient Romans and Greeks, who would pour wine, to be shared among those attending a religious function. Eventually, the act of drinking in unison came to be called a toast, from the act of dropping a square of burned bread (toast) in the bowl, in order to absorb the extra acidity of the wine, as in those days this was not as refined as it is today, so it could have been letal. That’s even why the host was the one who drank first.

Creepy (or bizarre) superstitions…
Traditionally, it was thought that what people ate, but also did, in the minutes around that special midnight, would have had an effect on the luck of each one throughout the coming year. For this reason, folks celebrate New Year’s Eve in the company of family and friends. But there’s more to it. In Europe the custom of first-footing is practiced. This is where the first person to enter the house after midnight must be male and is supposed to bring good luck to the household.

Also, a popular custom is to tell the future by special rituals. In Germany and Austria, for example, people would drop molten lead into cold water and try to tell the future from the shape it makes. If the lead forms a ball it means good luck, a ring shape means a wedding and if it’s a cross… it means death.

And memories, and love…
People exchange kisses on New Year’s more than ever. They hug and cuddle as if they haven’t seen each other for a long time, and everyone is joyful and thrilled, althought in the mood of recalling sweet memories of the past. This happens all around the world. This is the best part of New Year’s.

Photo by shioshvili

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About the Author

Hi, I am Daniela and I am passionate about creative languages - especially in advertising - voyages, wine&food and. .. shoes. I was born in Canada and now I live in Sicily, where I'm a travel and new trends writer and blogger, combining with this activity a strong devotion to the world of hotel hospitality. I also translate texts and websites in English and collaborate with several wineries being specialized in copywriting about wines and territories, interpreting and guided tours.

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