The new year is a time for new beginnings, and by the time December 31 rolls around, many people welcome the chance to start fresh and leave the past in the past. Why else would over one million people watch the famous ball drop in New York City’s Times Square every year, while almost one billion people watch the televised spectacle? Australia’s Sydney Harbour welcomes over one million people every year to watch fireworks over the water, and fireworks over the Thames are a custom in London. How we celebrate depends on where in the world we are on the last day of the year because New Year’s traditions differ from country to country. But no matter where it’s celebrated, New Year’s is always welcomed with traditional food and drink that people hope will bring them luck and prosperity.
Here in the United States, the beginning of a new year is celebrated with Champagne toasts at midnight, and in the South, eating black beans is considered lucky. In Estonia, it’s traditional to eat seven, nine, or 12 meals on New Year’s Eve, with part of each meal left unfinished for the spirits of ancestors who visit the house that day. And people in Scotland participate in the tradition of "first footing" on New Year’s Day, bringing gifts of shortbread, a black bun, and whisky to a neighbor’s house.
However you celebrate, there are plenty of ways to say "Happy New Year!" from Australia to Wales, and many of them involve traditions that promise luck and prosperity.
Additional reporting by Haley Willard.