15 New Year's Superstitions From Around the World

IsaacRuiz/iStock via Getty Images Plus
IsaacRuiz/iStock via Getty Images Plus

From America to Australia, everyone wants to start the New Year off on the right foot. Here are 15 rituals from around the world that are said to ensure a forthcoming year filled with happiness, prosperity, love, and adventure.

1. Latin America // Carry Around an Empty Suitcase

In many Latin American countries, New Year's revelers with a case of wanderlust will set an empty suitcase by their front door (or even drag it around a room in circles, or around the block) to conjure an upcoming year filled with adventure and travel.

2. Spain // Eat 12 Grapes at Midnight

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Some people guzzle sparkling wine at midnight on New Year’s Eve, but in Spain (and in some Latin American countries, too), they stick with grapes until the clock is done striking the hour. They’ll gobble 12 bits of fruit—one grape for each stroke of midnight—to ensure the next 12 months will be filled with luck.

3. Argentina // Eat Beans

In Argentina, beans aren't just prized for their fiber content—they’re also considered to be a lucky New Year’s Eve dish. Eating them right before midnight is said to provide job security for the coming year—perhaps the most responsible tradition on this list.

4. Belarus // Have a Rooster Predict Your Love Life

In Belarus, single women looking for lasting love sit in a circle, each with a pile of corn in front of her. A rooster is placed in the circle’s center, and the woman whose grain heap it pecks at first is believed to be the first of the bunch to get married.

5. China // Clean the House (But Watch Which Way You Sweep the Dirt)

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The Chinese New Year (known as the "Spring Festival") corresponds with the turn of the lunar-solar Chinese calendar, and technically isn’t celebrated until late January to mid- February. But just like in many Western countries, the occasion is marked with numerous traditions and superstitions. One good-luck custom is to clean your home from top to bottom as a way to usher out the prior year. But to ensure the good luck doesn’t accidentally get pushed out along with the bad, people sweep the home inward, collect the dirt, and dispose of it out the back door instead of the front one. And during the first two days of the New Year, homemakers aren’t supposed to clean their dwellings at all, to avoid sweeping away any lingering fortune.

6. Denmark // Throw Broken Dishes at Your Neighbor’s House

Most people toss broken dishes into the trash, but in Denmark, they dispose of them in a much more creative fashion. They save them, and on New Year’s Eve, they toss the shards at their friends’ and family’s homes as a gesture of good luck. (No word on whether they volunteer to clean up the mess after.) Danes (and Germans) with less-pugnacious personalities—or simply weaker throwing arms—can opt to leave a heap of broken china on doorsteps, instead.

7. Romania // Perform a Ceremonial Bear Dance

In Romania's eastern Moldova region, villagers dress in real bearskins and dance up and down the streets to ward off bad luck. The ritual takes place each year, between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and stems from an ancient Roma tradition.

8. The American South // Eat Black-Eyed Peas

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In America, many Southern families eat a festive New Year’s Day dinner of collard greens, pork, and black-eyed peas—a type of legume with a distinctive black spot on its cream-colored shell. The latter dish is said to bring good luck (and whoever finds a coin hidden in the beans’ serving pot will have the most of it). Nobody quite knows where this tradition originated, but some people say it began after the Civil War, when Union soldiers stole all Confederate food supplies aside from black-eyed peas (thus making them “lucky”). Another theory is that Sephardic Jews—who settled Georgia during the 18th century—ate black-eyed peas to ring in the New Year, and brought the tradition with them to America.

9. South Africa // Toss Furniture Out the Window

In Johannesburg, South Africa, locals who live in the city’s Hillbrow neighborhood toss old furniture out the windows, or off their balconies. Presumably, this act symbolizes shedding the old for the new, and embracing the promise of a new year. (Sadly, people have been injured from this practice, and the police have gotten involved, so think twice before emulating this one.)

10. Estonia // Eat Multiple Meals

In Estonia, people eat seven to 12 meals on New Year’s Day to provide them with the strength of seven to 12 men. (They then, presumably, take seven to 12 food coma-induced naps.)

11. Finland/Scandinavia // Pour Melted Tin Into Water

In some Nordic countries, like Finland, people melt tin horseshoes, then pour the resulting liquid into cold water and watch it swirl into a new, solid form. The shape it makes is said to predict what kind of year you’ll have.

12. Brazil // Toss White Flowers and Gifts Into the Ocean

Many Brazilians believe that giving gifts to Yemanja, an Afro-Brazilian ocean spirit, on New Year’s Eve will give them newfound vitality and strength. They travel to Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, and toss white flowers and other offerings into the waves.

13. Ecuador // Burn a Scarecrow

To New Year's Eve revelers in Ecuador, a scarecrow serves as a symbol for the previous year’s bad energy. They burn the straw effigy to promote a fresh, positive start to the year.

14. Scotland // The Year’s First Guest Brings You Gifts

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In Scotland, the first person to cross your home’s threshold in the New Year is required to bring you an assortment of symbolic gifts: a coin, salt, bread, coal, and whiskey.

15. The Philippines // Make Lots of Noise

New Year's Eve is typically rowdy in most cultures, but people in the Philippines make lots of noise. To scare off evil spirits, they bang together pots and pans, set off fireworks, and even shoot guns into the air.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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25 Amazing Facts for International Beer Day


Every year, suds lovers celebrate International Beer Day on August 7—which makes it the pefect day to share any one of these amazing facts about beer.

1. After he won the Nobel Prize, Niels Bohr was given a perpetual supply of beer piped into his house.

2. The Code of Hammurabi decreed that bartenders who watered down beer would be executed.

3. At the Wife Carrying World Championships, first prize is the wife's weight in beer.

4. A cloud near the constellation Aquila contains enough ethyl alcohol to fill 400 trillion trillion pints of beer.

5. Coined in the early 1900s, the word alcoholiday means leisure time spent drinking.

6. The builders of the Great Pyramid of Giza were paid with a daily ration of beer.

7. During WWII, a bear named Wojtek joined the Polish army. He transported ammunition and sometimes drank beer.

8. Fried beer won Most Creative Fried Food at the 2010 Texas State Fair.

9. The top five states for beer consumption per capita: 1. New Hampshire, 2. Montana, 3. Vermont, 4. North Dakota, 5. South Dakota.

10. Germany is home to a beer pipeline. Taps in Veltsin-Arena are connected by a 5km tube of beer.

11. Thomas Jefferson wrote parts of the Declaration of Independence in a Philadelphia tavern.

12. Cenosillicaphobia is the fear of an empty glass.

13. At the end of Prohibition, FDR said, "What America needs now is a drink."

14. Winston Churchill called the concept of Prohibition "an affront to the whole history of mankind."

15. George Washington insisted his continental army be permitted a quart of beer as part of their daily rations.

16. Oktoberfest originally started as a festival celebrating the 1810 marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig.

17. At spas in Europe, you can literally bathe in beer as a physical and mental therapeutic treatment.

18. In the 1990s, the Beer Lovers Party ran candidates in Belarus and Russia.

19. J.K. Rowling invented Quidditch in a pub.

20. Beer helped Joseph Priestley discover oxygen. He noticed gases rising from the big vats of beer at a brewery and asked to do some experiments.

21. A Buddhist temple in the Thai countryside was built with over 1 million recycled beer bottles.

22. The moon has a crater named Beer.

23. Beer soup was a common breakfast in medieval Europe.

24. At the start of Bavarian Beer Week in Germany, an open-air beer fountain dispenses free beer to the public.

25. In the 1980s, a beer-drinking goat was elected mayor of Lajitas, Texas.