Photograph by Yasuyoshi Chiba, AFP/Getty Images
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Swimmers watch fireworks at a New Year's Eve celebration on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Photograph by Yasuyoshi Chiba, AFP/Getty Images

New Year’s around the world

From time-traveling to wearing special underwear, experience unique New Year's Eve traditions from around the globe

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. [See the top 10 New Year's Eve celebrations around the globe.]

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 environment and travel writer Meghan Miner, first appeared in the December 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine. Follow Meghan on Twitter @MegMiner.