Here we light fireworks to celebrate New Year’s Eve, in Germany they melt lead.

In America there are many things that define New Year’s Eve.  For us it means staying up late to celebrate, maybe watching the ball drop on the television, going to parties and drinking champagne, making a New Year’s resolution, or perhaps cooking a special dish to bring us good luck in the coming year.  We sing Auld Lang Syne, set off fireworks, and kiss someone special at midnight, all in celebration of turning of the calendar.

There are a lot of similar celebrations on New Year’s Eve around the world, but also a few that are different. Many countries set off fireworks like we do, including Belgium, Austria, England, and Italy.  But there are some countries that have very unique traditions.  In Romania people dress up in brightly colored costumes or animal furs to ward off evil.  There is also a traditional “bear dance” where participants dress up in bear costumes and dance in an annual parade.  This practice stems from the ancient Romanian tradition of people touring from house-to-house, singing and dancing, in order to keep away evil spirits in the New Year.

On New Year’s Eve in Spain people hold 12 grapes and when the clock strikes midnight they eat one grape for each bell toll. If you finish all the grapes by the last toll then you will have good luck for the rest of the year.  In Germany there is a practice called BlegieBen which involves pouring molten lead into water and then telling your fortune based on the shape the lead makes.  In Denmark people break old dishes and glasses against the doors of their friends and family as a sign of friendship.  They also stand on chairs and jump off of them together at midnight in order to banish bad spirits and bring good luck.  In Ecuador they burn “ano viejos” puppets that signify the old year.  In Brazil people stand on one foot and hop three times with a glass of champagne in their hand in order to symbolize starting the New Year off on the right foot.

However you choose to celebrate this New Year’s Eve, stay safe and ring in 2014 with those you love!