Not that we don’t advocate consumption of Champagne for New Year’s Eve, or anytime. (Honestly, Champagne should be something we drink during tax season. Why it’s only associated with times that are already really fun is a mystery, and quite possibly a tragic mistake.) But however you tend to celebrate, and whatever pledges you make in terms of maximizing your core or “crushing it” next year (whatever needs to be crushed), there’s a lot more about the New Year than the opportunity to kiss a relative stranger and rationalize wearing your sparkliest shirt.
New Year’s is about renewal, cleansing, and progress—typically ushered in by over-consumption of food and drink. But we have a few global traditions that actually make us wonder if Champagne and late night texting of old friends (“we should reconnect in 2016!!!”) might not be the best way to acknowledge the passing year, or the coming new one. Better ideas? Flinging giant balls of fire, bingeing on grapes, and burning (then drinking) your hopes and dreams…
The Stoats Loony Dook – The Frozen Dip
Yes, this happens in Scotland. Scotland knows how to celebrate the New Year (first of all, they do it for three days, and call it Hogmanay, with possible Norse and Gaelic influences). There’s fireball swinging in the North, and then there’s this, Edinburgh’s annual tradition of taking a dip in the waters of the River Forth. It’s for charity, and it’s freezing, so people tend to dress up.
First Footing – The Whisky Visitor
Another good Scottish tradition, referring to the first foot that steps across your threshold after midnight. (Ideally–and this is true–it’s luckier if it’s a tall man with dark hair). Whoever comes in should bring a coin, salt, bread, coal, and whiskey, all symbolic gifts, one of which you can drink.
Cava at Midnight – The Grapes Gorge
In Spain, tradition has it that eating 12 grapes at midnight (for every stroke of the clock and month of the year) will bring you good luck. So in addition to filling a glass with Cava to celebrate, revelers are ready with grape bunches and, ideally, an appetite for some rapid fruit consumption, since “las doce uvas de la suerte” (the 12 lucky grapes) have to be eaten with each stroke of the clock.
Drinking Toso – The Spiced Sake Cure for Evil
As New Year’s Eve metaphors go, this one’s pretty good, and practical. In Japan, the tradition of drinking “toso,” a spiced, medicinal sake, is supposed to cleanse the body of the maladies of the previous year (and possibly just the holiday season), and bring good luck for the year to come.
Champagne and Doughnuts – The Holland Baller
Drinking Champagne is nothing new to New Year’s Eve. Drinking Champagne with a doughnut, well, that’s just genius. We know how good Champagne is with something well-fried. Pair some bubbly with a traditional Dutch “oliebollen” (literally, “oil balls”), basically a doughnut forefather studded with raisins or currants and dusted with powdered sugar.
Make Some Noise – Filipino Audible Assault on Evil
In the Philippines, as elsewhere, the New Year is a time to cleanse oneself of bad vibes. But they don’t mess around with potions or special crystals. They drown evil out the way Seahawks fans drown out , well, everything: with noise, banging pots and pans, setting off fireworks, firing actual guns (into the air) to scare evil spirits away for a prosperous, and just kind of boisterous, New Year.
Ashes and Champagne – The Russian Intensity
Russia knows its bubbly (and caviar). They also apparently know the trick to getting your New Year’s Eve wishes granted: write them down on a piece of paper, burn that paper, put it into your Champagne, and knock it back.