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New Year's Eve Celebrations Around the World

Have you ever thought about spending your first moments of the New Year writing a letter? How about eating an enormous conical cake decorated with tiny flags and fireworks, and then tossing plates on your friends' doorstops? In Belgium, writing letters to your parents on New Year's Day is practiced nationwide-the cards are decorated with angels, hearts, and cherubs, and then read aloud to their recipients on January 1st.  In Denmark, if you walk outside to shattered plates on the morning of the New Year, it's a good thing-it means many new friends in the coming months.

In the United States, we have our fireworks displays, first kisses, the iconic ball drop, and champagne toasts.  However, just over the border in Mexico, they have a very unique (and quite possibly difficult) tradition of eating a single grape-twelve total-upon each stroke of midnight.  One is supposed to make a wish with each grape, but make sure you eat them all in time! A traditional meal of turkey or pork loin is eaten on December 31st to start a feliz ano nuevo.  Canada, our neighbors to the north, celebrate differently as well.  In rural Quebec, families go out and ice fish and drink alcohol in the cold climes, usually into the first hours of the morning.  In larger cities, the common celebrations of bubbly wine and fireworks displays are more common.

In Brazil, the New Year marks the beginning of the raucous summer holiday known as Carnaval.  Many Brazilians on the coast flock to the beach dressed in white to usher in good luck to the New Year.  As in Mexico and other Portuguese and Spanish-speaking countries, Brazilians eat twelve grapes at midnight, and also commonly eat a dish of lentils or legumes for dinner.  Italian traditions also involve a dish of lentils-commonly, a dish named cotechino.  The round lentils represent small coins, and at the stroke of midnight they eat a spoonful with each toll of the bell.  However, always at the forefront of fashion, Italians also typically wear red underwear for the New Year.  It supposedly brings love in the coming months.  Try something new for your New Year's celebration! You never know if that red underwear will work unless you try it… 
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