By R. Liaw
For every stroke of midnight, the Spanish eat one grape to bring good luck in the coming year. According to tradition, you will have a year of prosperity if you manage to do this (its actually pretty difficult, and some people practice during the whole year to be successful at it!). You will want to be in Puerta del Sol in Madrid for that, where there is non-stop partying that goes on all night. Be sure to have your twelve grapes on one hand, and a glass of cava on the other!
In Scotland, the New Year's celebration actually lasts 3 whole days! It starts on the 30th of December, where 8,000 partygoers create a "river of fire" with tourches that flows from the Parliament Square to Calton Hill, through Old Town's streets together with drums, bagpipes and other instruments. During New Year's Eve, you can attend a huge traditional Scottish social gathering with dancing and music. On the last night of the celebration you can catch the last celebrations: ceilidh and Loony Dook. Balls made of wire, paper and material scraps that are set on fire and thrown into the bay.
Ringing bells 108 times
During Omisoka (New Year's Eve) in Japan, Buddhist temples ring bells 108 times in celebration. According to Buddhist traditions, 108 is the number of human desires and causes of suffering; so ringing the bell is thought to disperse negative feelings, emotions and mentalities.
People in Denmark may keep chipped china, glass and plates all year just to smash them in New Year's Eve! They roam the streets and smash these against the front doors of family and friends for good luck: On the next day, the more broken plates you have on your doorstep, the more popular you are, and your year will be filled with good luck.
Jumping seven waves, eating lentils and wearing white
To us Brazilians, this may come as no surprise, but for the gringos, these are our main traditions. We jump over seven waves at the beach and throw a white flower into the water for Santa Iemanjá for prosperity. If the flower comes back to the shore with the waves, she has refused the gift; but if it drifts away, she has accepted it. Wearing the colour white is associated with bringing peace along with the New year. We also eat lentils for good luck: usually lentil soup!