12 quirky New Year’s Eve superstitions

Friends group celebrating Christmas toasting champagne wine at home dinner - Winter holiday concept

New Year's Eve is an event filled with a variety of traditions and rituals - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Bang bread on the walls and doors

A popular Irish superstition that’s been passed down through generations, this one involves banging on walls and doors throughout your home with bread to chase away evil spirits, bad luck and hunger. It is also done to also encourage good luck and prosperity throughout the upcoming year.  

Smash pomegranates

Pomegranates have long symbolised prosperity and good luck in Greek culture, and over the festive period, people in Greece hang these fruits up above their doors. At midnight on New Year’s Eve, people turn off their lights and hurl the pomegranate to the floor or at the door, with the fruit spilling out its seeds. It is thought the more seeds that have spilt, the more luck you are to receive. 

Ripe Broken Pomegranate with bright juicy large grains (seeds) on a gray background, Copy space

A smashed pomegranate - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Craft a Calennig 

Originating in Wales, a Calennig is a table-top decoration made from an apple and twigs. Stick three twigs into the base of an apple so it stands upright, then coat the apple in dried fruit, nuts and cloves. Finish by adding a sprig of holly leaves on the top. This decoration is then placed on a windowsill or mantlepiece, and is thought to bring good luck for the new year.  

Avoid lobsters  

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If you’re planning on putting on a fancy spread this New Year’s Eve – skip the lobster. Some cultures believe that eating lobster before midnight on December 31 is bad luck, as they move backwards, and this could represent a year of setbacks for you.  

Munch grapes  

In Spanish-speaking countries, a popular New Year’s Eve tradition is to eat 12 grapes when the clock strikes midnight on December 31. Dating back to the end of the 19th century, it is thought that 12 grapes can lead to good luck and prosperity for the year ahead.  

Hands holding twelve grapes, traditionally eaten on New Year's Eve in Spain. Green grass in the back

12 grapes - one for each month of the new year - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

No cleaning  

According to Chinese traditions, you should avoid cleaning on New Year’s Eve, as it is thought that sweeping or dusting will cleanse away everyone’s good luck in the house for the year ahead.  

The brighter, the better  

In many South and Latin American countries, it’s considered good luck to wear coloured underwear on New Year’s Eve, with certain colours representing certain wishes. Red underwear is thought to bring you romance, yellow brings you money, and blue signifies good health.  

Open the door  

Over in the Philippines, it is tradition to open all of the doors and windows at midnight in order to clear out any bad vibes and luck that could be lingering. While we can imagine it’s warmer in the Philippines than it is in the UK in December, opening your doors and windows for just a couple of minutes should do the trick.  

Smash plates  

While Greeks are known to smash plates on the floor during celebrations, over in Denmark, it is tradition to smash plates against your friends’ front doors. This is meant to bring good luck, and the more smashed plates you find on your doorstep the next morning, the more luck you will have. 

many white broken plates on a wooden floor

Throwing plates is a New Year's Eve tradition in Demark - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

(Un)pack your bags  

Colombians ring in the New Year by taking an empty backpack or suitcase, and running around the block as fast as they can at midnight. It is meant to symbolise a year filled with travel and exploration – which, Covid-permitting, we hope can happen in 2021. 

Jump over waves  

In Brazil, it is tradition to head to the beach at midnight and jumping over seven waves. For each wave, you get one wish for the year ahead.  

First footing 

In Gaelic folklore, the ‘first foot’ is the first person who crosses a home’s threshold after midnight. Tradition states it should be someone who is tall, dark, handsome and bearing gifts such as coins, coal, salt, bread and whiskey. But beware, as fair-haired males are considered unlucky. It is believed this superstition dates back to the Viking invasion, back when blonde strangers turning up at your door usually meant trouble.  

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