We'll start with some favorite traditions close to home (warning: most of them involve food!):
- Pork is a symbol of good luck because pigs root forward, which is obviously the direction you want to go in the new year. (Chickens and turkeys scratch backwards — so steer clear of the poultry aisle if you're superstitious.)
- Black-eyed peas and other legumes symbolize prosperity because they resemble coins. For those who associate good luck with good money, be sure to add some peas to your New Year's dinner.
- While you're at it, heap on some leafy greens like collards, kale, or cabbage, which represent paper money — and more prosperity. They're good for your health too, but the point is, the more foods that resemble money, the better.
- A New Year's smooch when the clock strikes midnight brings good luck in love for the year to come. So whether you're single or have a steady honey, prepare to pucker up.
- In Spain, wearing red underwear on New Year's Eve means that you will have prosperity and good luck in the upcoming year.
- Also in Spain and many Latin American countries, eating 12 grapes at midnight ensures good luck and health in every month of the new year. (The trick is to stuff in one grape for each strike the clock makes, so grab the smallest ones you can find!)
- In order to chase out the bad luck of the New Year, the Irish bang white bread against the walls.
- In Ecuador, it's customary for each family to burn a scarecrow at midnight. The scarecrow represents the negativity of the previous year, so burning it ensures positive energy and good luck as the new year begins.
- Brazilians jump seven waves for good luck — one jump for each day of the week.
- In Greece, smashing a pomegranate outside one's door at midnight is said to bring good fortune. The red color and seeds of the pomegranate represent fertility, love, happiness... and a big mess on your doorstep.
- If you're in Germany, be sure to find a chimney sweep or a fireplace, because touching ashes is the key to good luck in the new year. Like seeing Santa Klaus on Christmas, the appearance of the chimney sweep is a good omen.
- In Japan, cleaning and sweeping on New Year's Eve is good luck, but doing so on New Year's Day could actually sweep away all of the good luck of the year! So consider this your free pass not to do any household chores after your New Year's Eve celebrations. (Better stock up on those paper plates.)
Need more ways to court good fortune for 2014? Consider these traditions from around the world:
Happy New Year and best of luck!