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Winter 2006 | Ringing in the New Year

Winter 2006 | Ringing in the New Year

Nothing says "Happy New Year" quite like a lump of coal. Or boiled cod. Fireworks and champagne do the trick round these parts, but alternative traditions, libations, and unusual edibles will welcome 2007 around the world.

Hogmanay (Scotland)
Toast: A wee dram of whiskey greets New Year's Day. (And, let's face it, most other days in Scotland.)
Countdown: Clutching whiskey, shortbread, and lumps of coal, Scots greet (or, as they call it, "first-foot") neighbors after midnight. Shortbread symbolically feeds the household; coal provides warmth; and, well, whisky has its own special warming effect.

Nochevieja (Spain)
Toast: Cava (the native sparkling wine) is the festive beverage of choice.
Countdown: At the stroke of midnight Spaniards gobble one grape for each of the clock's 12 chimes. If they manage to eat all 12 before the chimes finish, they're set for 12 months' good luck.

Le Réveillon de Saint-Sylvestre (France)
Toast: It has to be champagne.
Countdown: The French feast at this midnight gathering, with a holiday spread including foie gras and other delicacies.

Nytårsaftensdag (Denmark)
Toast: Boiled cod is a New Year's Eve standard. Champagne and marzipan ring cake are more tempting treats.
Countdown: Danes pile smashed dishes on friends' doorsteps. The more popular people are, the bigger their smash stash.

Shogatsu (Japan)
Toast: Toshikoshi soba noodles, washed down with otoso (a sweet herb sake), sets the Japanese up for luck and longevity.
Countdown: Bonenkai parties are thrown to leave 2006 in the dust. The sound of 108 temple bells will be followed by revelers' peals of laughter chasing away bad spirits.

Songkran (Thailand)
Toast: Thais snack on such foods as peanut brittle-esque tua that and the crunchy rice treat krayasad.
Countdown: New Year's Thai-style is wet 'n' wild. Thais soak everyone in sight with water by the bucket-, hose-, and water pistol–load during the splashy April celebration.

Año Viejo (Ecuador)
Toast: Champagne accompanies 12 grapes, each bringing a monthly wish.
Countdown: The burning of a life-size effigy represents the purging of the year's unwanted detritus (like unwanted exes and politicians!). Stuffed with fireworks and bad memories, the effigy is burned at midnight.

Festa de Iemanjá (Rio de Janeiro)
Toast: Grapes and the cocktail known as caipirinha (which includes cachaça, alcohol made from sugar cane) provide celebratory sustenance. Leave some room for lentil soup or lentils with rice in the morning, which assure financial good luck.
Countdown: Boisterous Brazilians leap over seven consecutive waves for good luck, and also hurl flowers and other offerings in the water to get their wishes from Iemanjá, the goddess of the sea in the Umbanda religion.

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