Yellow Underwear, Broken China: Happy New Year!

ByABC News
December 30, 2005, 9:13 AM

Dec. 30, 2005 — -- Yellow underwear, broken china, eating lasagna -- all are good luck traditions to ring in the new year, but before you break plates and hit Victoria's Secret, familiarize yourself with where in the world to go to share the luck in 2006.

Around the globe, people celebrate the coming of a new year with traditions specific to their country. Although the celebrations are not always held on the same day, they often include religious ceremonies, costume parties, parades, and good luck charms said to bring fortune, luck and love in the new year.

Wear yellow underwear for good luck. Venezuelans also write wishes in a letter and burn it so they come true.

Jump seven ocean waves and your wishes may come true. Citizens of Rio de Janeiro also throw flowers into the water as an offering to the Goddess of the Seas.

Eat 12 grapes and make 12 wishes (one for each gong on the clock at midnight.) And if you're looking for love, Mexicans opt for red underwear.

To forget the old year, people create a dummy and stuff it with old newspapers and firecrackers. At midnight, each family lights the dummy on fire and as it goes up in smoke, the firecrackers also go off to add to the festivities.

On New Year's Day, most people make a habit of eating black-eyed peas and turnip greens (to bring good fortune and plenty of money.)

Single women put 12 men's names on slips of paper, plus one blank slip of paper under the pillow. When they wake up the following morning, they select one of the slips of paper, which means that is the person they will marry.

Eating pasta in Italy doesn't sound very unusual, but Sicilians always ring in the new year with a plate of lasagna for good luck.

The first visitor on New Year's Day will bring you luck -- good or bad.

Danes horde old plates to throw at friends' houses. They believe that broken china means more friends.

There's a fair amount of champagne drinking and screaming on New Year's Eve, but for many French people the new year officially begins by eating king cake, "Galette des Rois," on the holiday known as Epiphany. Epiphany, which celebrates the arrival of the Three Kings to pay homage to Baby Jesus, is honored in most parts of France on the first Sunday of January. The almond-paste round cake is cut into pieces and distributed by a child hiding under the table. Whoever finds "la fève" -- the charm hidden inside -- is king or queen for the day and can choose a partner.

Take a dip in the English Bay with the Polar Bear Club to wash the year's sins away.

On New Year's Eve, bells are rung 108 times to chase away 108 troubles. The Japanese all laugh after the gongs because it's believed that sharing a chuckle will drive away the bad spirits.

The Chinese New Year (slated for Jan. 29, 2006) is the first day of the lunar calendar, so it is also called the Lunar New Year. This holiday trumps all other holidays in China, and the festivities last 15 days. New Year Eve's dinner has lots of symbolic meaning. Eating dumplings implies wealth because they have the shape of ancient Chinese gold or silver ingots. Everyone, even kids, drinks a little liquor, which is a symbol of longevity. People also give each other red envelopes with money in it, a symbol of luck and wealth.

Wild cheers at the stroke of midnight is believed to ward off evil spirits. Chase the bad away and ring in the new! Kissing your loved one ensures that friendly ties will grace you and the person for the next 12 months.