New Year’s Around the World

Celebrating the New Year and the potential it holds is a tradition dating back millennia. From watching “the ball drop” in New York City’s Times Square to popping grapes on the beaches of Barcelona, our rituals may vary, but the prospect of a clean slate is a universal ideal.

Below the Belt: Brazilians choose their own fortunes for the coming year by underwear color. Yellow symbolizes prosperity, red passion and love, blue good health and tranquillity, and white peace.

Fruit Loop: Revelers in Spain each eat 12 grapes to celebrate Nochevieja (“old night”): one for each month of the year.

Ring True: Buddhist temples in Japan ring their bells 108 times before midnight, a sacred purification ritual.

Seeing Double: The Samoa Islands straddle two time zones, a 25-hour difference. Last year around 200 people celebrated in Samoa, flew an hour east, and counted down again in American Samoa 24 hours later.

This piece, written by Meghan Miner, first appeared in the December 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine.

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