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The 17 Best New Year’s Superstitions from Around the World

There’s no denying that our New Year’s traditions will look a tad different this year, since we’ll be hosting a virtual party instead of watching the ball drop in person. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t set the precedent high for how your year will go.

For example, did you know there’s a hidden meaning behind the infamous New Year’s kiss? In fact, it’s one of several New Year’s superstitions that is thought to bring good luck (when done correctly). From eating herring to smashing dishes, keep scrolling for a list of 17 New Year’s superstitions from around the world.

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1. Kissing at midnight

This one originates from English and German folklore. The superstition claims that a smooch at midnight strengthens a budding romance and sets it up for success. If someone doesn’t get kissed, it could foreshadow a loveless future in the romance department.

2. Eating herring

In Germany and Sweden, eating herring on New Year’s Day is considered good luck. (Herring are forage fish, which belong to the Clupeidae family.) The delicacy can be served pickled or fresh, just as long as it’s consumed by midnight. Bon appétit!

3. Consuming 12 grapes

This food superstition (which originated in Spain) can satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. It’s pretty simple, since it only involves eating 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight. The idea is that eating one piece of fruit for every month will bring plenty of luck in the New Year.

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4. Carrying a suitcase

No, really. If you have empty luggage lying around, be sure to keep it in a handy spot. Colombians are famous for celebrating the New Year by carrying around an empty suitcase (even if it’s just for a few minutes). The gesture is designed to prepare you for new adventures.

5. Cracking the door

The Philippines legend says that if you open the doors just before midnight, it rids your home of the previous year and welcomes the new one. It doesn’t have to be lengthy, especially if you live in a cooler climate, but it’s a simple way to recognize that 2020 is no longer welcome here.

6. Throwing ice cream

In Switzerland, it’s tradition for locals to ring in the New Year with ice cream. But instead of eating the scoop, they throw it on the floor. (Not kidding.) It might seem like a waste, but the gesture is supposed to bring abundance in the New Year.

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7. Forgoing the lobster

Yes, lobster is a fancy (and extremely delicious) option. But in some cultures, it’s considered bad luck to eat lobster on New Year’s Eve. The problem? Lobsters move backwards, symbolizing a year of setbacks.

8. Choosing your underwear wisely

On New Year’s Day, the color of your underwear speaks volumes. (In Bolivia, at least.) For example, red undies are a symbol of love, while the color gold is thought to bring wealth. Cha-ching!

9. Breaking dishware

In Denmark, locals break plates, glasses and other dishware on the front porches of their closest friends and family members. Basically, if someone’s doorstep is a disaster on New Year’s Day, they must be doing something right.

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10. Burning photos

In Ecuador, it’s common for folks to burn photos before midnight. That way, they can rid themselves of memories they don’t want to bring into the New Year.

11. Banging bread

The Irish ring in the New Year by banging loaves of bread against the wall. (Seriously.) Although the goal is to get rid of evil spirits, we can’t deny that it sounds like a fantastic way to relieve some stress.

12. Reading an onion

Curious about the weather? Romanians are known for reading the skins of onions to determine the upcoming year’s forecast. All they do is peel and salt onions on New Year’s Eve, so they’re ready to analyze by midnight.

13. Throwing away unwanted items

This isn’t your average spring cleaning. In Johannesburg, South Africa, locals celebrate the New Year by throwing unwanted household items—like TVs, chairs and kitchen appliances—out their windows. Good riddance, amirite?

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14. Eating long noodles

Some cultures—including China, Japan and other Asian countries—incorporate long noodles into their New Year’s Day dishes. The shape is supposed to signify longevity, so don’t even think about breaking the noodles before putting them in the pan.

15. Wearing white

It’s tradition for Brazilians to wear white on New Year’s Day. Not only does the color ward off evil spirits, but it also sets the person up for success.

16. Making cornbread

In the southern United States, cornbread is practically a staple dish. So, it’s no surprise that it’s become a must-make dish on New Year’s Day, since the color resembles gold. To top it off, some bakers will add corn kernels to the batter to symbolize golden nuggets.

17. Being a New Year’s baby

If you or someone you know was born on New Year’s Day, you might want to take them to the nearest casino. Not only are NY babies destined to be lucky throughout their entire life, but if the baby is born at midnight, the chances only increase.