How does Europe celebrate New Years?
Eating grapes, wearing red underwear, or driving evil spirits away: European countries have many different traditions to mark the end of the old year and the start of the new.
In Germany, New Year’s Eve is all about making a noise, with anything from jumping jacks or giant firecrackers to extravagant firework displays. At midnight things get really loud. Traditionally it was believed the noise and fireworks drove away evil spirits and brought good fortune in the year to come.
In Italy on New Year’s Eve, your underwear deserves special attention. To ensure happiness and success, it’s essential to start the New Year wearing red underclothes. As soon as Christmas is over, department stores and lingerie boutiques change their displays accordingly. Whether it's lace panties or boxer shorts, the most important thing is that they’re red. A traditional festive food is a knuckle of pork with lentils, a hearty meal that will hopefully ensure prosperity in the coming year.
If you celebrate the New Year in France, don’t expect a riotous party or lots of fireworks. In most places the night between New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day is relatively quiet. Many French people just meet up with family and friends for dinner. Instead of letting off firecrackers and rockets, they usually greet the New Year with champagne, foie gras or oysters. In Paris and other cities fireworks are specifically forbidden.
In Spain, grapes are the most important item to ensure good luck as the New Year begins. As the clocks strike twelve at midnight, many Spanish people traditionally slip a grape into their mouths to mark each chime. Miscounting is a sign that disaster will befall you in the coming year. Supermarkets sell cans with a dozen grapes, packaged especially for the occasion, and in nightlife districts street vendors appear just before midnight selling plastic bags containing the required twelve grapes.
In Greece New Year is a time for excited gambling. This can mean cards or games of dice, at home or in a casino. The Great New Year Gamble begins on the evening of 31 December and often goes on until dawn on New Year’s Day. All over the country millions are gambled away, legally or illegally. The winners can expect a year of prosperity, losers can at least hope for luck in love.
No matter what the traditions or how unusual they may seem, all these countries have one thing in common: the New Year is a time for celebration!