New Year’s Eve, international style

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Photo courtesy of Steven Keys through Creative Commons

If you’re used to sitting in front of the television on New Year’s Eve instead of partying it up, you’ve probably seen the news coverage of the clock striking midnight around the world. First it’s Sydney, then London, then New York, with plenty of cities in between. Drinking champagne and watching Anderson Cooper might be your New Year’s tradition, or maybe you’re out kissing people at the coolest parties in town. But if you want to try something new this year, you can draw some inspiration from international New Year’s traditions. They’re an important reminder that New Year’s is supposed to be symbolic, and it never hurts to start 2015 off with some good luck.

Buy new underwear

At Christmas time, shops in Argentina are flooded with displays of pink panties, because giving pink panties to women is supposed to bring them love. It’s a little sexist, but most people give pink panties to any woman in their life, from grandmothers to young girls, to bring everything from happiness to fertility. Red underwear is also a staple in Mexico and Italy, where donning a new pair on New Year’s Day is supposed to be lucky. If anything, New Year’s is a good excuse to shop for lingerie.

Carry an empty suitcase

They have a long list of traditions and quirky superstitions in Mexico, but this one is among the most inspiring. At midnight, grab an empty suitcase and walk around the block. If your New Year’s resolution is to travel more, this will bring opportunities for journeys and adventures in the year to come. There’s a similar tradition in Costa Rica, where the aim is to run across the street with your suitcase in hand. Just don’t forget to use it as a weapon if someone tries to mug you before you get home.

Break some dishes

In Denmark, people save up old dishes all year long so they can go around throwing them at their friends’ front doors on New Year’s. Throwing dishes at your friends’ houses gives them good luck for the coming year, and somebody who opens their door on New Year’s Day to see a large pile of smashed ceramic can feel great about the number of friends they have. If you try this tradition, you might get arrested, but smashing items in your own home could be cathartic. Along the same lines, there’s a South African tradition of tossing old furniture out the window.

Write some letters

Belgian children celebrate New Year’s Eve in a really sweet way by writing cards and letters to the special adults in their lives, especially their parents. They decorate the letters with flowers, ribbons and coins, and many children read them out loud at midnight. Writing to your parents or anyone who has had a major influence on your life in the past year is a great way to commemorate the holiday. If you’re spending the evening with family, this might be more fun than watching TV.

Burn something

Traditions that involve burning things for New Year’s Eve are popular in many different countries, and they can range from burning old photographs to burning cars (an actual problem that police have to deal with every year in France). In countries like Ecuador and Panama, they burn effigies of politicians, celebrities and even cartoon characters in celebration of the new year. Burning old pictures and mementos, and even symbols of the baggage you’d like to cast aside, can be really meaningful. And if you want to toss in a few magazine cut-outs of things that you hope go away in 2015, so much the better. Jennifer Lawrence and Kim Kardashian, anyone?

Fly a kite

Though Koreans celebrate New Year’s Day according to the lunar calendar, which means sometime in February, there’s a new trend of celebrating at the start of January, too. They turn the first three days of the year into a time for family, relaxation and celebration. Younger and older generations play video games together, and they even go outside to fly kites. Take some inspiration from Korea this year and don’t let the holiday end at midnight. Spend some time with loved ones and start the new year with non-stop cheesy fun.

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