Red Underwear, Champagne Ashes, and Potato Drops: 10 Strange New Year's Traditions

Here's how to ensure a happy and lucky New Year.

New Year's Eve is one of the few occasions that almost everyone in the world celebrates—but in terms of how people honor this passage of time, all the traditions couldn't be more different from each other.

Here are some of the most fascinating from around the world.

1. Spain: 12 Grapes

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This tradition stems from the 1800s, when vine growers in the Alicante region of Spain came up with this tradition as a clever marketing technique to sell more grapes. Now, all across Spain, many people will eat twelve grapes as the clock strikes midnight on New Years' Eve.

2. Ecuador: Burning Scarecrows

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Fire is a constant tradition around the world on New Years' Eve—Iceland has its bonfires and Scotland has a festival of fireballs meant to ward off evil spirits—but in Ecuador, people will often build scarecrow dolls modeled after politicians, pop stars, and other public figures and promptly set them ablaze.

This is meant to cleanse out the old and invite in the new, though it may have originated during an epidemic of Yellow Fever in the 1700s, when burning away the clothes of the dead was thought to improve chances of survival for the living.

3. Japan: Noodles and Bells

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The Japanese ritual toshikoshi soba, which means "year-crossing noodles," involves eating a bowl of soba noodles on New Years' Eve in order to celebrate resilience and longevity.

Buddhists and Shintoists in Japan will also often practice a tradition of ringing 108 bells at the onset of each new year. According to tradition, each ring is meant to symbolize a worldly desire or sin, and by the time they've all been rung out, a new year and fresh, clean slate will have begun.

4. Greece: Pomegranates

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In Greek mythology, the pomegranate is associated with good luck—so therefore in Greece, many locals spend their New Year's Eves throwing pomegranates against their door, smashing the fruit and counting the seeds that scatter after the impact. Each seed is said to represent a bit of luck to be had in the coming year.

5. Russia: Ashes and Champagne

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In Russia, many locals will write down their New Year's Eve resolutions, and then will burn them and sprinkle the ashes in champagne. It's a way of honoring and internalizing hopes for the New Year while also accepting their ephemerality and the way time can sweep across promises like fire.

In Siberia, things get even more poetic. Each year, divers brave the plunge and plant a tree—entitled a yolka, or New Years' tree—at the bottom of icy rivers and lakes. This is meant to symbolize the coming of Father Frost and the possibility of starting over in the new year.

6. Mexico: Red Underwear

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In Mexico and many Latin American countries, celebrators wear red underwear in order to find love. Red underwear is also a popular New Year's tradition in Italy, Turkey, and all across the world, so this is an easy way to join up with a bunch of other people trying to get lucky (literally and/or figuratively) this New Year's.

If you're not feeling the passion, some people wear yellow or gold for wealth, green for well-being and health, or white underwear for peace.

7. Brazil: Flowers in the Sea

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On New Year's Eve, many Brazilians honor the water goddess Yemoja by throwing white flowers and candles into the ocean. This offering is said to appease the deity, who controls the ebb and flow of the tides.

8. Philippines: Money Dots

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In the Philippines, people often wear and display circular things like polka dots and round fruits in order to evoke the shapes of coins. This tradition is meant to invite wealth in the new year.

9. America: Potato Drop

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The US has Times Square's Ball Drop, but each year, 40,000 people gather in Boise, Idaho to watch something much, much better: the Potato Drop. That's right: Each year, Boise inhabitants watch as a gigantic, 400-pound, glowing spud falls from the sky.

In general, Americans love dropping things on New Year's Eve. There's also a key lime wedge drop in the Florida Keys, a pinecone drop in Arizona, a PEEPS chick drop in Pennsylvania, and many more.

10. Colombia: Empty Suitcases

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Looking to make 2020 your most travel-filled year yet? You might want to try a tradition practiced in Colombia, where hopeful New Year's partiers will carry an empty suitcase around the block. This is believed to invite lots of travel and adventure into one's future.

Whatever you choose to do, those of us at Journiest wish you a happy and lucky New Year's Eve and a very magical and abundant 2020.

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10 Endangered Animals to Weep Over

Celebrate Endangered Species Day.

An endangered species is not a tragedy, because if a species is endangered, then they aren't yet extinct.

Sadly, there are millions of endangered species across the world, all facing threats that mostly stem from human activities. Still, it's not too late. Take a gander at these majestic animals, and then donate to a wildlife fund or environmental activism group of your choice.


Of course, nature doesn't need saving—humans do—and climate change and environmental destruction are threats to humans as well as animals, but if you need a reminder of the beauty and fragility of the natural world, check out these extraordinary species.



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Do Non-Melatonin Sleep Aids Really Work?

Objective makes a chocolate square.

I Can't Sleep.

I truly cannot remember the last time I had a good night's rest. Even before the stay-at-home orders, I was just a little ball of nerves.

But lately, it's been awful. I toss and turn, it's always too hot or even too cold, sometimes I make myself tea and read for a bit, but when I'm still up at 1 a.m., I reach for my phone and then I'm up until 3. My sister and I have a weekly call, and our small talk about our exhaustion turned into an hour long conversation about sleep.

I Thought I'd Tried Everything. Even Melatonin.

My sister asked why I hadn't gone for the old staple, melatonin and I reminded her about the time we traveled abroad, and it gave me the weirdest nightmares (the horrible kind where you wake up in your dream and you're still in a dream). Chamomile tea didn't work, nothing worked.

She said she had a friend who swore by something I definitely hadn't heard of.

They Were NOT Pills, Teas or Anything I'd Seen Before.

A company called Objective makes Fast Asleep, a sleep solution delivered as chocolatey treats. They're created with saffron and GABA. If going to sleep was as easy as eating a piece of these chocolatey, minty delights every night, I'd be sold.

What Exactly Was In It?

Cocoa contains caffeine, so I didn't know how this would help me sleep. After talking with my sister, I went online and saw that the calming, sleep-supporting ingredients cancel out any of the very little caffeine content.

Saffron, the spice, is apparently known to help with staying asleep, and their GABA is a fermented version of the neurotransmitter that's known to help you relax and fall asleep faster. In a study, 100% of customers saw improvement in their sleep quality thanks to saffron. One hundred percent!

Do I Try It?

A bag of 30 pieces was only $40, and they had a money-back guarantee.

They're keto-friendly and only 30 calories a piece, so not too decadent before bedtime.

They were chocolatey-minty, which is my favorite flavor, so I was sold. I ordered a bag to try.

The First Night, I Wasn't Impressed.

I took one piece (super yummy!) - 30-60 minutes before bedtime is recommended - but when I climbed in, I didn't notice a difference. I was worried I'd wasted my money.

However, once I fell asleep, I stayed asleep until my alarm went off, which hasn't always been the case for me.

I checked the site again, and noticed that many people didn't notice a real difference until the third or fourth night - it builds up in your system over time, so I decided to keep an open mind the rest of the week.

The Second Night Was Completely Different

Without doing anything differently from the first night, my second night was amazing. I felt calm and sleepy as I was getting ready for bed, and once I hit the pillow, I was out the whole night.

It had to be these sweet treats. The next day, I even felt more balanced and relaxed - Fast Asleep helps boost serotonin levels and reduce cortisol (the stress hormone), and I definitely noticed a difference in my overall mood and alertness.

I Already Ordered More.

Just In Case! There's nothing habit-forming about this product, so it's completely safe to take every night, and I honestly always want to keep it in the house. I'd also love to offer it to anyone staying over in the guest room, whenever we have guests again.

Now that I'm getting a healthy 8 hours of sleep every night, I feel more equipped during the day to tackle the things I need to do and deal with some of my daytime stressors. I finally had the energy to clean the kitchen, which had been bothering me so much for the past few weeks.

With Objective's Fast Asleep, I get real sleep and balance my levels, so I don't have to feel tired during my waking hours. Sleep in the form of chocolate squares sounds so weird, but oh my goodness, do they work.

Our partners at Objective Wellness are currently offering a 25% discount if you use the coupon code STAYHOME. Check them out here!

Food & Drink

The Best Apps for Craft Beer Delivery

Try beers from all over the world–from your phone.

With breweries and distilleries out of business for the foreseeable future, your favorite beer may feel particularly out of reach this time of year, especially with the weather changing. But don't let quarantine suck all the fun out of summer. Luckily, thanks to technology, a lot of craft beer is now deliverable straight to your door step. Here are a few of the best apps to help make sure you stay up to date on the latest trendy brews.

Tavour

Tavour

Simplistic and elegant, Tavour allows users to easily fill up a box of beer over a period of time before shipping. The app offers more than 650 different breweries both local and national and is perfect for those who like to experiment. It's easy to use, and their menu rotates regularly so you and your beer never grow stale.

TapRM

TapRM

TapRM offers a wide range of both craft beers and hard seltzers. While based almost exclusively in New York City, the app offers fast, same day delivery from some of the best beer brands in the world. They also provide a unique selection of beers to help you find your new favorite. All you need to do is download the app and place your order!

Drizly

Offering a stark variety of craft beer, Drizly allows its users to mix and match 12-packs, sixers or by the bottle. Their guarantee is that they can have whatever you order delivered to your house in less than an hour. You can even schedule your delivery for a specific time, with each delivery taking around 20-40 minutes.

Saucey

Saucey takes delivery very seriously. When you order with them they guarantee that they'll deliver in 30-minutes or less, or they guarantee two day shipping. Also, beer aside, their entire liquor cabinet is also up for grabs. From tequila and whiksey, to vodka and wine, nothing is off the table for Saucey.

Beer Menus

BeerMenus

For those who enjoy strictly local beers, BeerMenus features a tap list from local bars and a broader stock list from your neighborhood beer store. With that, you can make sure to create a list of your favorite beers in your neighborhood, so that when they're in stock you can be ready to go.