Burn a scarecrow ... throw furniture away: New Year’s traditions might be just what your celebration needs

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Now that you got what you’re going to get for Christmas, it’s time to start thinking about what you want for the new year.

New Year’s wishes are not generally for more stuff, to the relief of your bank account, but for good things in the coming year. The nations of the world have generously provided a wide range of superstitious traditions that reflect common hopes for the year. Identify what you want and try out a new tradition this year:

If you want prosperity, try …

  • ...eating a lot. People in Estonia eat seven separate times on New Year’s Day as a way to bring abundance. Keep those snack bowls filled all day.
  • ...going ‘round’ for the day. In the Philippines, round items represent coins and the wealth they bring. This year, try eating grapes and doughnuts, wearing polka dots and decorating with coins.
  • ...eating rice. In India and Pakistan, rice is said to bring a prosperous year.
  • ...dropping cream on the floor. Whipped cream, a symbol of richness, is dropped on the floor in Switzerland to bring a year of abundance.
If you want to drive away evil spirits, try …
  • ...dressing up as a bear and dancing around. The bears are said to scare away evil spirits, though be forewarned that you might scare your friends and family as well.
  • ...throwing a pail of water out the window. In some parts of Puerto Rico, this is said to keep evil spirits away. Remember to show caution when performing this tradition from a second-story window.
  • ...hitting your walls with a loaf of bread. Doing so is said to frighten evil spirits in Ireland. It will likely work for frightening the neighbors away as well.
  • ...making loud noises. In many Asian countries, firecrackers and other loud noises are sounded at the new year to scare away evil spirits.

If you want good luck, try …

  • ...talking to your animals. In Romania, if your animals talk to you at midnight, the coming year will bring bad luck — and presumably psychiatric treatment also.
  • ...burning scarecrows. Families in Ecuador make paper scarecrows and burn them at midnight, a practice that is said to destroy all the bad things of the past year, opening the way for good luck ahead.
  • ...eating 12 grapes. In Spain, stuffing 12 grapes into your mouth at midnight is said to bring good luck.
  • ...finding a lucky coin. Coins are baked into sweets in Bolivia and tradition holds that whoever finds a coin in their treat will have good luck in the coming year.
  • ...wearing colorful underwear. In some South American countries, colorful underwear is said to influence your fate for the coming year. Red or pink underwear will bring love, gold will bring wealth and white signifies peace.
If you want a fresh start, try …
  • ...throwing furniture out your window. Some people in South Africa and Italy signify an unencumbered year of by getting rid of household extras and unwanted things via the window.
  • ...punching people. One village in Peru ends the old year with a fist fight. Everyone settles their differences and begins the year on a clean slate.

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