It’s hardly a “hot take” to say NYE doesn’t live up to the hype. In years past, there was a sense of looking forward to something. A clean slate, a fresh start, 365 days of possibility just laid out in front of us. This year, it’s more like we’re leaving something behind. Frontline workers are receiving the COVID vaccine, and people are talking about a return to normalcy in 2021. There are things to celebrate about the end of 2020. Even though NYE doesn’t always meet our expectations for something undefined but magnificent, there are still fun traditions. Most have to do with attracting luck, prosperity, or love in the new year. They come from all over the world and are pretty fun to do alone, so they’re safe for a socially distanced holiday. All the best for 2021. We made it.
The rollover from December 31 to January 1 started with the Romans, and so did the tradition of dressing fancy for the occasion. Even though you may have nowhere to go, even if you don’t really feel like it, we’re encouraging you to get dressed up this year. Not to impress anyone or because you’re attending a Zoom NYE event. But because you deserve to celebrate yourself. You’re a badass who survived a global pandemic. So put on your favorite outfit, pour yourself a glass of bubbly, and celebrate the incredible achievement of making it through 2020.
This superstition comes from Spain and may not sound that fun. At first. But we promise once you try it, you’ll be sold for life. You eat 12 green grapes at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. Each grape symbolizes a month of luck for the upcoming year. The trick is you have to eat all 12 before the town church bells marking the hour stop tolling. If church bells ringing midnight are in short supply where you live, you can watch a clip of last year’s event from Spain to time your grape eating.
The fireworks are a universal tradition for marking the New Year, and while they’re OK to watch, it’s more fun if you have a few boxes of sparklers for lighting up the first moments of 2021. Hold a sparkler aloft as you run around your block carrying an empty suitcase. It’s a tradition from Colombia that’s likely to become dear to people worldwide after a year of travel bans and lockdowns. The empty bag should attract a year of travel into your life.
This is another tradition from long ago that we’ve held onto through the centuries. Its ancient appeal is obvious, to stand in the face of the dark winter night and try to make enough noise to scare off evil spirits for an entire year. Simple tradition may have kept us at it in modern times, but we think it’ll hit differently this year. We saw in 2020 what misfortune looked like on a global scale, and we’re willing to dent some of our housewares to ward off similar tribulations from 2021.
In Central and South America, people wear colored underwear to attract the things they desire in the coming year. Wear red to attract love and passion or yellow for prosperity. While you’re meditating on what color underwear to buy, you might as well think about your intentions for the new year. Instead of overhauling your entire life and setting impossible aspirations, consider setting small manageable goals, and practicing daily gratitude.
In Copenhagen, people jump off a chair at the stroke of midnight. It’s a way of entering the new year at velocity. It also symbolizes leaving evil spirits and bad luck behind (on the chair). In Brazil, people head to the shore, where they try to jump over seven waves. You get a wish for every wave you clear. If you’re in the northern hemisphere and indulge in this tradition, you’ll definitely be earning those wishes.
Throughout Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands, people bring dishes to their friends’ houses on New Year’s Eve and smash them against their stoops and doors. The more pieces the plates break into, the luckier. People who have a lot of shards of crockery around their front door are considered the most fortunate–because they have the most friends to smash dishes for them.