2014 is coming to a close and it’s time to party off the old year and welcome the new one with a big bang for the exciting 365 days ahead, ideally filled with luck, success, money growing on trees and a lot of love. We tend to think that the key ingredients for the perfect New Year’s Eve and Day all over the world are the same.

You know (Ir)responsible quantities of  sparkling wine, (not too) serious new years resolutions to work out more and stop smoking, fireworks and hugs and kisses for our beloved ones when the clock strikes 12.

This is what everyone does…..but really?

The reality is quite different, especially for people on a global journey. All over the world you’ll stumble frequently over freaky, funny, special traditional habits and rituals. The ways people welcome the brand new year varies regionally and culturally and it’s good to know about them in case you ever find yourself in these regions this time of the year plus we here at UYD believe in embracing our differences.

I asked friends and family around the world what they do to start off the new year. Listed below are some of the nicest and most “unusual” traditions for love, good luck, prosperity and wealth.

Try these and nothing can stop your 2015!

But before I dive into the traditions I just want to point out that the “New Year” celebrations don’t take place everywhere on the same day.  Thanks to the Gregorian Calendar, most of us wave the year goodbye on the 31st of December and the new year starts on January 1st.

However, the Chinese new year will start late January or February. This year, the Lunar New year starts on February 19th. The Jewish new year is in autumn and is called Rosh Hashanah and the Balinese New year, also called Nyepi or the “day of silence” takes place in March according the Balinese Calendar.

The feast night of the 31st of December in many European countries is called Silvester instead of New Years Eve- a reference to the good old Pope St. Sylvester who was said to have died on the night of the 31st of December 335.

Ok so the traditions….

Midnight kiss

Probably one of the most well-known traditions is the midnight kiss on the 31st.  This tradition comes from old masked balls where the mask stands for the evil spirits of the old year and the kiss is purification of the new year. According to an old saying: On New Year’s Eve you should kiss the person you love at midnight to make sure you will keep kissing this person for the rest of the year.

Running with an empty suitcase

From an outsider’s perspective this can be admittedly bewildering, but in many countries in Latin America, such as Mexico and Colombia everyone grabs an empty suitcase after midnight and runs outside around the block with it. This habit is to ensure a lot of travelling for the upcoming year….the further the run, the further the trip and don’t forget to bring your partner on the run if you want to travel together!

A mouthful of 12 grapes

This is one of the most famous hispanic rituals to give the New Year a warm welcome. From Spain to Latin America, every member of the New Year’s Eve party family gets a bowl (or sometimes a champagne glass) of 12 grapes. With each bell strike at midnight of December 31st, one grape gets eaten and a wish can be made – each grape standing for one month in the next year. To make things even more complex, sometimes it’s required to stand on the left foot so as to step into the new year with the right foot. Get it?! Enter the new year with the “right foot“.

Do you want to get married in the coming year?

Then once midnight strikes, sit down and stand up 12 times. After sitting and standing 12 times, tie a red ribbon around the photograph of the person you want to marry and sleep with it under your pillow all night.

Umm….. No comment! So from marriage we move to underwear

Wear colored underwear, white dresses or polka dots

Colored new underwear is a big sexy deal in Latin American countries, Italy and Spain. Red underwear attracts love and passion to your life, yellow will shower you in happiness and money next year. Also a lot of people in Latin America tend to wear clean white clothes to keep off illness and attract good health. According to the Filipinos, everything in round shapes look like coins and symbolize prosperity. That’s why people in the Philippines think that Polka dots on clothes and underwear bring good luck.

Make a wish and drink it

In Russia besides drinking a lot of vodka it’s common to write a wish for the new year on a note, burn it, throw it into a glass of champagne and drink it before midnight.

Throw old things out of the window

In Italy, it’s an old tradition and totally acceptable to throw old washing machines, dishes and other old things out of the window in order to leave the past behind, drive away bad spirits and be able to buy new things in the New Year.

Lead pouring

With a heartful “Prosit Neujahr” and “Bleigiessen” Germans (and also Finnish) start their new year with an old practice to predict what fate will bring. A small portion of lead is melted in a table spoon over a candle or a little flame and then poured into a bowl or bucket with cold water. The shape of the resulting solidified lead figure tells them what the new year will bring. A ball, an anchor, a cross, flowers, bottles, glasses, triangles and many more stand for everything from love to death, to wisdom to financial luck.

Lentils for Prosperity and money:

Lentils are really a thing when it comes to New Year’s Eve rituals in a couple of different countries. Cooked or raw, lentils attract money and prosperity in the next year, some say it’s because they look like coins. In a handful of Latin American countries like Chile and Brazil a table spoon of raw lentils is eaten at midnight. Alternatively raw lentils are filled in pockets and everywhere where people would like to see plenty of cash next year. And don’t forget to carry them around with you for the next seven days to remind you of your financial quest every time you touch or see them. Italians take the time to prepare a proper dish with them and celebrate New Year’s Eve often with a traditional lentil stew called “Cotechino e lenticchie” and Zapone (pig leg).

Clean up for good energy!

Making sure the house is spotless from top to bottom in general a good idea but in Japan, India and Mexico a symbolic New Year’s tradition to remove bad energies from their homes. Sweeping a broom from the door to the street drives out negativity and troubles.

Puerto Ricans carry a bucket of water through each room of their house to collect bad energy. The bucket full of the bad vibes and water is then thrown out of the window. The English clean their chimneys on New Year’s Day for good luck. In other Latin American countries they sometimes only pour out a glass of water on the street to expel worries and tears.

Make Noise!

Break dishes in front of the door steps of neighbours and friends is a tradition in Denmark. All year round people collect their old dishes in order to break them in front of their friends’ doors. The bigger the debris you find on January 1st in front of your door, the more friends you have and the more luck you will get.

In New Zealand pots and pans have to be banged in order to make noise to scare away bad spirits.

Opening doors and welcome the first guest

In England and Wales at midnight the back door is opened and then shut to set the old year free and lock out it’s bad luck. Then the front door will be opened and the New Year can enter with all of its new luck in abundance.  Also the first guest in the new year is welcomed in a special way, He or she has to enter through the front door, bring a present and leave through the back door. If you come empty handed as the first guest then that means no entrance for you in many british households.

Also in Colombia and Mexico the first guest projects what the new year will bring.

Watch the same old movie….

Its “the same procedure as every year, James”.  This is an English catchphrase out of the 4 minute british black and white sketch “Dinner for one”. This has become a yearly New Year’s Eve tradition in Germany and Austria since the 1960s, over half of the German population watches it every year. Swedes seem to enjoy watching “Ivanhoe” every New Year’s Day.

Probably a good way to forget your hangover while eating dinner leftovers.

Hang Onions on your door

In Greece the 1st of January is not only New Year’s Day but also St Basils Day, an orthodox special holiday standing for generosity. As a special symbol for rebirth and growth in the next year, Greeks hang onions on their doors, also called “kremmida”. On the next morning parents touch their children on the head with the kremmida to wake them up.

Lit flying lanterns

In Thailand and many other South East Asian countries it’s common to light lanterns that float up like balloons in the sky and take away negative energies from the past year. In some countries in Latin America they do the same.  Colombians sometimes write wishes or their names on notes to send them with the lanterns for good luck in the new year – for themselves and for the ones who find the lanterns when they sink back to earth.

This piece was written by the lovely Juliana Méndez who also wrote about Bali and Colombia. Check her out on Twitter.