There's something magical about the promise of a new year. The celebration of all that has happened within the last 365 days is something that billions of people worldwide joyously reflect on each time it comes around, but these New Year's traditions differ greatly from place to place.
So, what are some noteworthy New Year's traditions from around the globe? Keep reading for a detailed list of some pretty awesome ways people ring in a new year with friends, family, and their communities.
1. New Year's Eve ball drop: Times Square, New York City
Certainly the most famous celebration of the new year in the U.S., the magnificent lighted ball drop, live music, and general party vibe that Times Square gives off every year is a blast. Everyone knows the drill with this one: count down with the crowd for the ball to drop, and then cheer with, kiss, and embrace those around you. There's truly nothing else like it on Earth.
2. Breaking ceramic plates: Denmark
This one is definitely a far departure from the U.S.-centered notion of how New Year's Eve is to be celebrated. If you ever find yourself in Denmark around the New Year and see people breaking plates on others's front porches, don't assume that it's mischief — the people of that nation believe that breaking a plate on a friend's front step will bring them good luck for the coming year.
3. Eating lentils: Brazil
Your New Year's spread might look a little bit more like a charcuterie board, or maybe some tasteful sandwiches, but in Brazil, the chosen food item to close out a year and welcome a new one is lentils. The small colorful legumes actually represent money and general good fortune in traditional Brazilian culture, so people there make sure to get a healthy portion of them in on New Years to ensure financial success in the coming year.
4. Walking an empty suitcase: South America
Joining the list of seemingly odd traditions is the act of carrying an empty suitcase around on New Year's Eve in South America. You might ask yourself why anyone would want to burden themselves with a cumbersome suitcase, especially when it's empty, but the practice has roots in time-tested beliefs that the "suitcase walk" will mean that a year of adventure lies ahead for whoever takes part.
5. Throwing away furniture: South Africa
Out with the old, in with the new, right? That term is taken quite literally in South Africa, where people see a new year as the time to literally rid their lives of the physical items from the past year. There is a longstanding tradition in Africa's southernmost country where old furniture is hurled from the windows of homes, only to be destroyed when it hits the ground below. It might not be the most effective way of getting rid of something unwanted, but it definitely gets the job done.
6. Dressing up as a bear: Romania
If there's one thing that this list has proven, it's that New Year's traditions don't always have the most apparent alignment with the day they're practiced on. Case-in-point: the Romanian practice of dressing up as a bear. People don the fuzzy costumes and dance traditional routines on the holiday, keeping in line with an old superstition that bears are able to protect and heal people, bringing good energy into the New Year.
There you have it — no matter where you are on Earth, there's likely a unique local way that people celebrate the coming of a new year. Although they all differ greatly in practice, the one binding element between them all is man's common belief in celebrating the promise of a fresh start.