If you think everyone is going to be ringing in 2016 with a champagne toast, you better think again!
Wish Lanterns - Japan
In Japanese seaside villages, children are encouraged to write their dreams for the New Year on a the inside of a paper “Sky Lantern.” After sunset, families gather at the coast to light the children’s “Wish Lanterns” and release them into the night sky. The children watch with delight as their Wish Lanterns soar towards the heavens and then are forced by their parents and older relatives to continue watching as their lantern flame dies out and the paper balloons are swallowed by the ocean. Children are then told to carve more modest desires onto a sprouted sweet yam or radish, which is then planted in their families garden. The presence of the root vegetable serves to remind the child of the importance of humility and modesty for the rest of the year.
The Parade of Father Death, That Old Fool - South America
To celebrate another year without feeling death’s icy hand, the residents of South American towns nominate one of their own to dress up as the Grim Reaper and lead a march through the city center. The townspeople gather along the parade route to berate “Father Death” and perform pageant-like skits that mock him for being unable to claim their souls. Little children will tug on his robes or slap his rear with bats and sticks, then easily escape his exaggerated, oafish lunges. Beautiful women will flirt with and seduce Father Death, but when he closes his eyes and leans in for a kiss, she will step aside so that his lips land on a Donkey’s ass. The parade typically ends in a hospital, where Father Death is brought to the rooms of the elderly or terminally ill so they might spit upon his face and hood.
Spicy Salsa for Xocotl Hetzi - Mexico
Farming communities in rural parts of Mexico still carry on this Aztec tradition of pouring spicy, but not too spicy, salsa into a shallow hole they dug in their fields as an offering to Xocotl Huetzi, the God of Harvest. The Ancient Aztecs believed that Xocoti Huetzi loved spice, but that he didn’t want to feel like his mouth is on fire. If your crops fail that year, it is said that Xocoti Huetzi found your salsa too spicy, or maybe not spicy enough.
Open Carry - Philipines
The Philippines are well known for their over-the-top fireworks displays meant to scare off any evil spirits and bring good luck for the New Year, but Filipinos also brandish a small, personal firearm during their night of revelry, just so the evil spirits don’t get any smart ideas.
Honey-Filled Shoes On Your Doorstep - Eastern Europe
After a long night of dancing, Eastern Europeans looking to make right will take off their sweat soaked shoes, fill them with honey, and leave them on the doorstep of whomever they feel they did the greatest wrong to in the previous year. The sweet of the honey symbolizes their hope that New Year’s fresh beginning might mask the “stink” of last year’s sins. If you find a “honey shoe” waiting for you on New Year’s Day, it is polite to bake its contents into a loaf cake or other dessert and leaving it cooling on your window sill as sign of forgiveness.
Bear Beating - Scandinavia
The Vikings were said to have spent the Winter Solstice driving driving bears out of their caves and provoking them to the point of attack to prove to their Norse Gods that they had the strength to survive the cold season, no matter how long or how dark. The tradition still survives in some parts of Northern European, though nowadays the animals are often shackled and heavily sedated to minimize the risk of injury. Just one good, hard punch to head of bear teetering on the edge of a medically-induced coma is thought to bring strength and health for the year to come.
Money Spaghetti - United States
To ensure wealth and fortune in the New Year, Italian American families will gather around the dinner table on the 31st for a plate of “Money Spaghetti.” Typically, the matriarch of the family spends all afternoon preparing her homemade tomato “gravy” and as each family member arrives that evening, they make a stop in the kitchen to add handfuls of dollar bills and loose change to the simmering pot. Those who experienced a financial boon, a raise or are a hefty out-of-court salmonella settlement, are expected to “season the pot” with larger denominations, so that their luck might spread to the rest of the family. The meal can only begin after everyone raises a glass and shouts “dovete mangiare soldi per fare soldi,” a toast that translates to “you have to eat money, to make money.”