Eating a dozen grapes - one for each month - makes for a lucky year in Spain and many other Latin countries.
The youngest boy in the family, elected to light a candle to
burn through the night, is another Celtic tradition. It's similar to lighting
bonfires, or the Samhain tradition of placing tapers in the windows to chase away evil spirits.
Dropping melted lead into cold water, like reading tea leaves to tell their New Year fortunes, is a popular German tradition. Today, kits are even sold that include the lead pellets with suggestions for
discerning what it all means.
In the Philippines, children jump up and down at midnight to make sure they will grow tall. In Asia, sunrise celebrations bring luck.
Then there are the traditional foods that ensure luck in the New Year:
In Italy, eating lentils ensures prosperity in the New Year because the flat legumes are said to resemble coins. Italians will also suggest that you follow it with chiacchiere, honey drenched balls of fried dough, to ensure a sweet new year in Italy.
In the Southern US, a heaping bowl of black-eyed peas on New Year's Eve promises a year of good fortune. Eating leafy greens (the color of money), or anything that forms a circle - such as donuts or pretzels - also brings good luck.
In the American South the three lucky ingredients for financial success in the year ahead
call for black eyed peas (for pennies), collard greens (for cash), and cornbread (for gold).
Meanwhile, eating a dozen grapes, one for each month, makes for a lucky year in Spain and in many Latin American countries. (In Portugal it's raisins.)
While these ancient holiday traditions as varied as the lands where they orginated, they all have one thing in common. They're a time-tested way to confidently face the dark unknown, and to instill communal belonging and bright hope in the year ahead.
With best wishes for love, health and prosperity to you and yours. Happy New Year.
More about New Year traditions worldwide around the Web:
New Year's Festivals Around the World - Tour the customs associated with the New Year alphabetically starting in Austria and ending in Vietnam. The foods for health and prosperity as well as traditional good luck symbols are