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10 Bizarre Ways of Celebrating the New Year Around the World

10 Bizarre Ways of Celebrating the New Year Around the World

One country’s traditions are another country’s peculiarities. What might seem perfectly normal to you as a means to celebrate the New Year could be an oddity just one pond over. Carrying around an empty suitcase, an entire nation wearing red underwear, earning broken plates at your front door for being a good friend, these are just a few different ways to celebrate.

Let’s take a look at ten bizarre and distinct ways of celebrating the new year across the globe.

1. Greece: Pomegranates and Good Luck

As the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve in Greece, tradition holds that the first person to walk through someone’s house should be one who bears good luck. They are referred to as the “Pothariko”, meaning “the first foot”. This esteemed individual should have a positive spirit and be lucky. They are a blessing to the house for the New Year. Often, children are chosen to play this role because of their innocence. It is imperative that the right foot be the first to cross through the threshold. Finally, a pomegranate is smashed to the floor while the “Pothariko” wishes for joy and good health for the residents.

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    2. Spain: The Grape Divide

    In an effort to court prosperity and ward off evil for the New Year, Spaniards have an interesting tradition of eating twelve grapes of luck within the first minute of the New Year. A bell tolls every five seconds for this celebratory first minute. Each of the twelve grapes is to be chewed up and swallowed individually before the next ring.

    3. Mexico: An Empty Suitcase Equals New Adventures

    Should you happen to be in Tijuana for New Year’s Eve, don’t be alarmed if you see Mexicans walking the streets with suitcases that don’t seem to weigh their shoulders down. They are empty. It is a New Year tradition to bring travel and adventure in the coming year. Find yourself an empty suitcase and let fate guide you.

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      4. Germany: “Dinner for One”

      This is a curious one. The eleven-minute-long English comedy sketch “Dinner for One” , produced in 1963, is touted as one of the most globally viewed television programs ever, even though it has little to no cult following in America or the United Kingdom. It is Germany’s tradition to air this sketch every New Year’s Eve, wherever a television can be found. The sketch depicts a ninety-year-old Miss Sophie throwing a birthday party for herself, setting her table for dead friends, as her butler, James, plays the part of all of them. The plot briefly thickens and all of Germany laughs their way into the New Year.

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      5. Italy: Red Underwear

      For Italians, the color red is believed to bring good fortune, summoning the protection of Archangel Michael. Come New Year’s Eve, Italians men and women will all be wearing red underwear for prosperity. I suppose what is fun about this tradition is the fact that someone wearing red underwear more than likely wants someone else to know they are wearing red underwear…

      6. Panama: Effigies of Public Figures Burn

      For Panama, New Year’s Eve is a time to take inventory of the performance of elected officials, celebrities, and other public figures. Based on these personal assessments, front lawns across the country have effigies to burn in the hopes that the New Year will bring less news of whomever it is they choose to construct a full-scale representation of to set ablaze.

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        7. Estonia: Eat Twelve Meals in One Day

        Estonians believe every meal they eat on New Year’s Eve is the equivalent of one man’s strength for the upcoming year. While seven meals is the common minimum, many men aim for twelve meals in hopes of gaining the strength of twelve men for the following twelve months.

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        8. Serbia: Christmas on New Year’s Eve

        Serbia celebrates New Year’s Eve with Spruce trees and gifts, much like Christmas. Actually, what is New Year’s Eve to many is their Christmas Eve. Their version of Santa Claus, Deda Mraz,visits that night and leaves gifts for all. Following the Julian calendar, they celebrate the New Year on January 13.

        9. Finland: Molten Tin Predictions

        At midnight of New Year’s Eve, the people of Finland find a random piece of tin and melt it in a horseshoe-shaped ladle. The liquid tin is then dropped in cold water left to form a shape in order to interpret the future of each person’s New Year. For example, a ring shape signifies a wedding, a form similar to a ship indicates travel, and animal shapes each possess various fortune telling attributes.

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          10. Denmark: Broken Dishes

          The people of Denmark have a tradition of throwing plates at other people’s front doors on New Year’s Eve. A broken plate represents good fortune for the coming year. Breaking the plate is a gesture from one friend to the other to indicate they have a loyal friendship. The more broken plates to clean up on January 1st, the better fortune for the New Year.

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          Featured photo credit: New Year’s Fireworks via emmastrend.com

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          Last Updated on October 16, 2018

          The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

          The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

          It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

          If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

          One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

          Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

          In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

          Why you can’t sleep through the night

          The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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          Stress

          If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

          Exposure to blue light before sleep time

          We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

          While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

          Eating close to bedtime

          Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

          Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

          Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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          Medical conditions

          In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

          The vicious sleep cycle

          The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

          Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

          You get a bad night’s sleep
          –> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
          –> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
          –> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

            You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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            How to sleep better (throughout the night)

            To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

            1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

            What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

            Here are a few suggestions:

            • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
            • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
            • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
            • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
            • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

            2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

            What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

            • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
            • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
            • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
            • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

            3. Adjust your sleep temperature

            Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

            Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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            Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

            Sleep better form now on

            Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

            I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

            As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

            Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

            Reference

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