Ah yes, 31 December. The traditional time for staying up late to drink cheap Prosecco and stand around until midnight, at which point a new day begins just like any other. Now maybe I’m being a bit bah humbug about this but I’m not quite sure I see the point of it all. For me the only remotely good thing about New Years Eve is Jools Holland’s annual Hootenanny, but even that isn’t actually real. Despite looking like a live New Year celebration, the whole thing is usually filmed several weeks earlier. Apparently the BBC say this is the only way to guarantee the ‘availability’ of all the musicians. Jools Holland, it would seem, has a better party to go to on New Year’s Eve.
Depending on where you are in the world, there are some fairly odd traditions which are played out on 31 December. In Spain for example you are required to eat one grape in time with each chime of the clock, to secure 12 months of happiness in the following year. The origins of this Spanish tradition date back to 1909, when there was a huge grape harvest and the King decided to give the surplus to the people to consume on New Year’s Eve. It is now believed that whoever can finish the 12 grapes before the chimes end will be rewarded with luck and happiness in the coming year.
The Dane’s like to have a smashing time at New Year. If you’re in Denmark and thinking about getting rid of those chipped old plates and porcelain sitting in your kitchen cupboard, why not set them aside and save them for the new year. When the big night arrives the Danes throw their saved up kitchenware at friend’s and neighbour’s doors. It is believed that the more broken dishes you find outside your door in the morning, the more friends and luck you will have in the new year.
The Italians have a similar scheme. In Italy it is customary to toss your old possessions out of the window to symbolise your readiness to accept the new year and all that comes with it. In Naples people have been known to throw items ranging from old toasters to retired fridges from their balconies. Chucking out potentially harmful belongings probably isn’t the wisest idea, and is unlikely to bring you much luck, so keep to small, soft items. If you plan on walking around after midnight be sure to keep an eye out for falling objects.
In Scotland they take a more direct approach to acquiring good friends. The focus here is on tall, dark and handsome friends in particular. The age-old tradition of ‘first-footing’ suggests the first person to enter your home in the new year, determines the luck for that household over the next 12 months. Tall, dark and handsome men are considered the luckiest – and it’s an extra bonus if they come bearing the gift of whiskey.
Whatever you plan on doing tonight, I hope it’s been a good year for you and yours and wish you every success and happiness in 2020 and the years to come.