Many countries have traditions that they believe will bring good luck for the new year.
In Puerto Rico, children enjoy throwing pails of water out the window at midnight. Some believe that this rids their home of any evil spirits!
In Spain, when the clock strikes midnight, the people eat 12 grapes. One grape for every stroke of the clock to represent each month in the year. Each grape is said to bring good luck in the new year.
In Switzerland, they believe that good luck comes from letting a drop of cream land on the floor on New Year's Day.
In France, people eat a stack of pancakes for luck and good health.
In Belgium, farmers wish their animals a Happy New Year for blessings.
In Armenia, the Armenian women cook a special bread for their family. The bread is kneaded with luck and good wishes pressed into the dough before it is cooked.
In Northern Portugal, children go caroling from home to home and are given treats and coins. They sing old songs or "Janeiros" which are said to bring good luck.
In Romania, the Romanians have a tradition of listening to hear if the farm animals talk on New Year's Day. If the animals talk, it is considered bad luck. So they are always relived when they do not hear any talking animals!
In Bolivia, families make beautiful little wood or straw dolls to hang outside their homes to bring good luck.
In many countries, it is thought that a person can affect the luck they will have throughout the coming year by what they do or eat on the first day of the new year. For that reason, it has become common for folks to celebrate the first few minutes of a brand new year in the company of family and friends. Parties often last into the middle of the night after the ringing in of a new year. It was once believed that the first visitor on New Year's Day would bring either good luck or bad luck the rest of the year. It was particularly lucky if the first visitor happened to be a tall, dark-haired man.
Traditional New Year foods are also thought to bring luck. Many cultures believe that anything in the shape of a ring is good luck, because it symbolizes coming full circle - that is completing a year's cycle. For that reason, the Dutch believe that eating donuts on New Year's Day will bring good fortune.
Many parts of the United States celebrate the new year by eating black-eyed peas. They are usually eaten with ham or some cut of pork meat. Black-eyed peas and other legumes have been considered good luck in many cultures. The hog and its meat is considered lucky because it symbolizes prosperity.
Cabbage is another "good luck" vegetable that is consumed on New Year's Day by many. Cabbage leaves are also considered a sign of prosperity. Cabbage is representative of paper money! In some regions, rice is a lucky food that is eaten on New Year's Day.