Don’t let 2020 put you off feeling the usual lust for life for the new year, it still is a new year after all. New years don’t really mean more than simply ticking another day off a calendar, but some of us need an extra push to remind ourselves that goals are there to be reached. We like the idea of a fresh plate—so sue us!. Whatever way you look at a new year, it’s a holiday nonetheless. Here are some of the weirdest traditions that take place around the world to reign in the ‘next chapter’.
In some parts of Italy such as Naples (or Napoli), Italians really take the ‘new year new me’ approach very seriously. Following the motto of ‘out with the old’ to the letter, the tradition is to throw away old or unwanted furniture from balconies to symbolise a fresh start for the year ahead. A word of caution: let’s hope the locals stick to smaller, lighter objects.
Scotland has the tradition of something called a first-footing (‘quaaltagh’ or ‘qualtagh’), which stands for the luck of the first foot (person) that crosses the threshold of a household after midnight on New Year’s Eve. In many areas, the first foot should bring a symbolic gift such as coal, coins or whisky. Generally, the tradition requires the first-foot to be a tall dark-haired male who is not already in the house when midnight strikes. Wouldn’t object to a tall dark-haired man walking through my front door, that’s for sure.
A carp is a fish, just to get that out there. People in Germany traditionally enjoy a meal of Silvesterkarpfen, translated in english as ‘New Year’s carp’. The fish can be cooked in any preference; steamed, fried or smoked, you get the gist. The carp fish is quite expensive and hard to find, and because of this it has become a superstitious tradition to pluck a scale from the fish and keep it in your wallet for the entire year, with the hopes of it bringing abundance and money. Stanky, if you ask me.
In the Philippines, the new year is all about the money, honey. With, like the Germans, hopes to bring prosperity and wealth for the year to come, Filipinos believe that by surrounding themselves with round things (derived from the shape of coins), they will entice more money into their lives! Expect a lot of polka dot clothing, actual coins and whichever round things you can think of to be dotted about.
With a less round context in mind, Japanese new year (or ‘Oshogatsu’) is welcomed at midnight with 108 bells being rung in Buddhist Temples all over Japan to banish the 108 worldly desires that all humans have. The bells (called ‘Joya no Kane’) that are rung are believed to cleanse humans of their sins from the previous year. The final 108th strike carries the meaning of letting go of those worries being thought of in the 107 bells prior. What’s that saying, the truth always rings through? Anyway, I wish them well, and possibly some ear muffs.
In Latin American countries, especially Mexico, Bolivia and Brazil, your year ahead is determined by the colour of your undergarments. Among a few of the colour codes are red, which will bring love, yellow for wealth and white for peace. What will you desire? I personally want it all, does it still count if I layer up?
Scarecrows built to resemble people, like pop stars, politicians or other notable figures are bonfired up at midnight of New Year’s Eve in Ecuador. They are stuffed with newspaper or sawdust and adorned with a mask, and hold a symbolic cleansing from any ill-fortune that has happened in the previous year. This tradition, called ‘año viejo’ (old year) can hold extra cleansing credit for those that jump the flames that their scarecrows burn in 12 times, representing each month of the year.
The Danes see the tradition of smashing plates against the doors of neighbours to wish them good luck for the next year, as well as friends and family. Love someone? Hurl a plate at their home entrances as hard as you can! Makes sense, right? All year round, unused plates are saved for the 31 December, and it is believed that the bigger the pile of broken plates, the more friends and good luck they’ll have in the coming year. All I’m thinking about is the people that live in the suburbs, poor souls might not have a neighbour for miles!
Eat 12 grapes (‘Las doce uvas de la suerte’ or the twelve grapes of luck) at every strike starting 12 seconds before midnight, and you will be lucky and prosperous for the whole of the year to come—if you finish them in time, that is. The taste of the grape, sweet or sour, also determines the prosperity to come. Sounds easy enough, but I can assure you that it is absolutely not. You can wish a romantic New Year’s Eve snog goodbye too. I’m talking drool, everywhere.
In Finland, New Year’s Eve also takes part in fortune telling. It is tradition to be given a small piece of tin that is shaped like a horseshoe (the symbol of good luck in many places of the world). The miniature horseshoe is then melted to liquid and quickly tossed into a bucket of cold water, which immediately hardens it into a more or less irregular shape as you can imagine, but the shapes are then examined and interpreted to predict the events to come in the next year. If the cast breaks down to pieces, well… I don’t need to tell you what that means.
Whatever you’re doing for this new year, which is bound to be a contrast to what we have known the event to be in the past, why not try one or two out for the sake of it?
We’ve done it, everyone, well done! Today marks the last day of 2019, and I can’t tell if I’m excited or already anxious about what 2020 will bring. Nonetheless, I hope your year has been filled with success, happiness and sustainability (a whole lot of it). This year, the call for a sustainable way of life was stronger than ever, and hopefully it will continue to grow in 2020.
While we welcome and celebrate the new year tonight, let’s forget about our worries and the future—only one main thing should stay on our minds and lead our actions during that evening: enjoying a sustainable sesh. And while I know being both slaughtered and sustainable this New Year’s Eve sounds almost undoable, here are 5 tips to help you achieve this goal, so you can start 2020 in the best of mindsets.
1. It’s all about the garms, baby
Along with the new year’s celebrations comes the mission of finding the perfect outfit for the night—something cute and trendy, sexy for some, chic for others. Whatever your style is, whatever you are planning on doing tonight, whether you are staying in for a dinner party or going out because you’re a slave to the sesh, we all want one thing: to look good for the many pictures that will undoubtedly inundate Instagram on 1 January 2020.
But for you to properly end 2019 on a good note, you can’t be doing so wearing a glittery outfit from Pretty Little Thing or any other fast fashion brand that has such a negative impact on our environment. Instead, try to think sustainably and borrow that bomb outfit from your one friend that has nicer garms than you. Try to avoid buying a brand new outfit just for New Year’s Eve, but if you really feel like you have to, and if you’re confident you will wear it again and again, shop from environmentally-friendly options such as vintage and charity shops, Depop, House of Sunny or even from rental fashion companies.
Also, keep away from the non-biodegradable glitters and all the tacky headwears that people wear on New Year’s Eve. They’re awful for the environment, and, let’s be honest, they’re never a good look when you’re already looking like a hot mess at the end of the party.
2. Travel sustainably, no matter where the party’s at
If you’ve already flown away to welcome 2020 in a warmer country than the UK, this is a first time warning—next year, try to travel consciously. For the rest of you that stayed in the country, use public transport. “Why should I use the tube tonight, when everyone else is going to do the same thing and I am probably going to be stuck with drunk people yelling on the central line for 20 minutes?” I can hear you wonder.
First of all, if you live in London, the tube, buses, DLR and Overground are all free that night and up until 4:30 on New Year’s Day, so don’t forget to take your Oyster card for your journey home from the rave. Furthermore, using public transport is safer on top of being greener. Each year, the majority of drunk driving accidents happen during this time of the year.
If you really have to use Uber, remember to split the journey with friends, or order an Uber Pool. Enjoy the 4x surge price while you’re at it.
3. You might not drink responsibly, but drink sustainably
I’m not here to tell you how much you should or should not drink, and I am the last one to judge. This New Year’s Eve, most of us will end up drinking too much, but to make you feel a tiny bit better, you should at least drink sustainable, UK-produced spirits and vinos that taste as good as the bottle of Disaronno you downed during Christmas.
For my vodka fans out there, try the Black Cow Vodka made in West Dorset with a zero-waste ethos, using only one ingredient—leftover whey from grass-fed cow’s milk. Are you more of a whiskey and gin kind of drinker? Ncn’ean Botanical Spirit is the first product from the first whisky distillery in Scotland to be 100 per cent organic and sustainable. My point is, there are a lot of eco-friendly alcoholic beverages out there, from spirits and beers to eco wines, so let’s make boycotting unsustainable drinks our first resolution of 2020.
4. Don’t do drugs (that are not ethically sourced)
In the UK, according to a crime survey for England and Wales, cocaine was used by an estimated 875,000 people between 2017 and 2018. This is the highest number in a decade and a 15 per cent year-on-year rise. So, yes, drugs are bad, but they’re also very much in demand, especially for New Year’s Eve.
If you have to get high tonight, just to come to terms with 2019, try to stick to ethically-grown weed, mushrooms, LSD, or even ketamine instead of cocaine. But if you can’t resist getting a few baggies to celebrate the new decade, well, at least make sure your dealer is doing his absolute best to reduce his environmental impact. As ridiculous as it sounds, eco-friendly drug dealers are now packaging cocaine and ketamine in reusable containers for customers concerned about the environment—that’s you my friend.
5. Finish it off with eco-friendly fireworks
If you ask me, we should not have any kind of fireworks, ever. But it is my role to be as open-minded with them as I have just been with alcohol and drugs. Traditional fireworks are made using a charcoal and sulphur fuel, a perchlorate oxidiser to keep them burning, and colourants and propellants on top of that. When ignited, they look spectacular, but so is the environmental impact of the smoke they emit. That’s why environmentally-friendly fireworks have been developed to reduce the amount of atmospheric pollution produced.
Eco-friendly fireworks have a clean burning, nitrogen-based fuel that emit very little smoke and still produce highly coloured flames. If you’re looking up at the incredible firework display in the sky tonight, take a moment to think about the effect it is having on the atmosphere. And look at it this way, if you use eco-friendly fireworks, you will definitely feel better about that 80 quid baggy in your pocket.
Tonight, remember to stay safe, slaughtered and sustainable. And happy new year!