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A boat lit up with festive lights at nighttime along a canal in Amsterdam.

7 New Year’s Celebrations & Quirky Superstitions Across Europe

Quirkiness is alive on New Year’s across Europe. Fireworks are a must. Drinking is customary. Many countries have incredible celebrations and, shall we say…interesting…traditions. A trip abroad for New Year’s should definitely be on your bucket list. Only question is: where to?

by Kevin McGraw

Spain: stuff exactly 12 grapes in your mouth

Like that chubby bunny game, but everyone’s speaking Spanish and boosting their antioxidant levels. Here’s how it works: In Spain on New Year’s Eve, as the clock strikes midnight, the eating begins. With each chime of the clock, you eat one grape. 12 chimes, 12 grapes. Easy…right?

The Netherlands: dodge fireworks

In 1993, the Netherlands banned ordinary citizens from buying and lighting fireworks. But then someone was like, “Hey, what if we only made them legal for eight hours on NYE?” And everyone was like, “Yes! That guy’s going places.” Fast-forward a couple decades, and New Year’s Eve in Amsterdam is loud, bright, and fireworks come from every direction.

Ireland: throw bread at the wall

Imagine thinking back to your childhood, remembering those times you and your family chucked loaves of bread at the wall on New Year’s Eve in Ireland. So nostalgic, amiright? Besides the stress relief that comes from making stale bread explode on impact, the Irish believe that this ritual chases bad luck from their homes. Makes perfect sense.

Italy: wear red underwear

Red underwear = good luck, which is why on the days leading up to New Year’s Eve in Italy, the streets are full of vendors selling it. And whether or not you believe the superstition, it never hurts to have an extra clean pair of underwear while traveling.

France: drink champagne

Champagne on New Year’s? Wow, real original, France. But actually it is. Because in order to call that bubbly stuff “champagne”, it must come from Champagne, France. So you want to celebrate New Year’s in Paris? Pop a bottle of the real stuff and watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle.

Denmark: throw plates at doors

Yes, this is the second experience involving throwing something. This one is harder to clean up though. Every New Year’s Eve, Danish people smash their broken plates on their favorite peoples’ front doors. Big mess to clean up in the morning? Not to worry—it just means you have a lot of friends. Who knew broken dishes could be a popularity contest?

Greece: hang an onion on the front door

Door meet onion. Onion meet door. It’s customary in Greece to hang a large onion, which symbolizes growth and rebirth, on your front door on New Year’s Eve. And in the morning, mom and dad take the onion down and casually tap it on their children’s heads to wake them up for church. Just another day in Greece, people.

No matter where you go for New Year’s, travel of any kind is a great way to get a head start on your resolution.

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Fireworks in the sky above the Vatican in Italy.

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by Kevin McGraw

Kevin is a copywriter at EF Ultimate Break. He loves drinking chocolate milk, looking at photos of his parents’ dog, and, for some reason, running for hours at a time. His favorite place in the world is Mürren, Switzerland.

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