Greeks mark the New Year by baking a sweet bread, vasilopita, with a coin inside. The piece with the hidden coin is believed to bring good luck to the dentist of the person who bites into it.
Many Danish people celebrate New Year’s Eve by throwing dishes at their friends’ doors. The U.S. has a similar tradition involving beer bottles and double-wides.
Japanese revelers eat soba (buckwheat noodles) at midnight, since long noodles symbolize long life. Expert soba-sensei chefs have been known to cobble together 1,000-meter noodles using hot wax or Krazy Glue.
In Scotland, neighbors go “first footing” door to door. Tradition says that if the first visitor to cross your threshold is tall, dark, and handsome, the year will be prosperous. If he’s fat enough to break the doorframe, the year will be drafty.
In the Philippines, jumping high at the stroke of midnight is believed to cause a growth spurt. This superstition explains why Filipinos are gimpy.
A German tradition involves dropping molten lead into cold water, then predicting the year ahead from the shape it makes. A heart or ring shape means a wedding, a shoe means a journey, and a turd shape means the year will be shitty.
Sicilians believe that eating lasagna on New Year’s Day brings good luck, while receiving a fish wrapped in newspaper means your button man is dead.
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