SOURCE: Cheapflights.com

Cheapflights.com

December 18, 2012 14:52 ET

Cheapflights.com Wishes the World a Happy New Year

Celebrate With Our Top New Year's Traditions From Cultures Around the World

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - Dec 18, 2012) - With less than two weeks left in 2012, the travel experts at Cheapflights.com, the online leader in finding and publishing travel deals, decided to discover how other cultures from around the globe celebrate the arrival of the New Year. Check out Cheapflights.com's list of Top 10 New Year's Traditions, which may inspire you to start your own custom to ring in 2013 with family and friends.

Here are five culturally diverse New Year's traditions celebrated throughout Europe to make our list.

  • Germany & Finland - How about a spot of fortune telling to ring in the New Year? Molybdomancy is an ancient technique of divination that involves interpreting the shapes made by dropping molten lead into cold water. On New Year's Eve in Germany and Finland, family and friends come together for a spot of lead pouring -- Bleigießen in German and uudenvuodentina in Finnish -- and make predictions for the coming year. It isn't an exact science and there are no firm rules on what the shapes actually represent. A bubbly surface can mean money is coming your way; a broken shape misfortune. Ships refer to traveling; a ball means luck; a monkey says beware of false friends; and a hedgehog means someone is jealous of you. But don't get too worried if you receive a bad fortune -- the predictions are just for fun.

  • Wales - Calennig, the Welsh name for New Year, means New Year celebration or gift and since ancient times the tradition in Wales has been to give gifts and money to friends, family and neighbors. Today, it is customary to give bread and cheese on New Year's morning, with children receiving skewered apples covered with raisins and fruit. In some parts of Wales, people must visit all their relatives by midday to collect their Calennig. That's a lot of bread and cheese!

  • Scotland - Hogmanay is the Scots' word for the last day of the year and has become one of the world's most recognized New Year's celebrations. The roots of Hogmanay date back to the celebration of the winter solstice, incorporating elements of the Gaelic celebration of Samhain. There are many customs, local and national, linked with Hogmanay. The most widespread is the practice of 'first-footing' which starts immediately after midnight. First-footing involves being the first person to cross the threshold of a friend or neighbor's home and giving symbolic gifts such as salt, coal, shortbread, whisky, and black bun (a rich fruit cake) to bring luck to the householder. This goes on throughout the early hours of the morning and into the next day, and can last well into mid-January.  But it's not just about ancient traditions in Scotland. On New Year's Day a new custom has begun to take hold -- the Loony Dook. Since 1987, the brave (and the mad) have taken the plunge into the icy cold River Forth in Queensferry, Edinburgh for a refreshing start to the year. A sure fire way to get rid of a hangover, the event attracts thousands of Loonies, spectators and swimmers alike.

  • Greece - While Christmas in Greece is a relatively solemn occasion, New Year's Day is filled with celebrations and gift giving. January 1 is the name day of Aghios Vassilis (St. Basil), the Greek Santa Claus, and many customs are based upon his arrival. On the morning of New Year's Eve, children go door to door and ask permission to sing kalanta (carols) to bring good wishes to their neighbors, announce the coming of Aghios Vassilis and bless the house. Later in the evening, families gather for a meal of roast lamb or pork and an extra place is set at the table for Aghios Vassilis. An onion is hung on the front door (alongside a pomegranate that has been hanging since Christmas) as a symbol of rebirth and growth. Around midnight the household lights are switched off and the family goes outside. One lucky person is given the pomegranate and smashes it against the door as the clock strikes midnight. As the New Year rolls over, Greek families all over the world cut into a cake -- the Vassilopita -- bearing the name of Aghios Vassilis. Each Vassilopita is baked with a coin or medallion hidden inside and whoever gets it will be rewarded with good fortune in the New Year.

  • Italy - As you might expect, New Year's celebrations in Italy start with eating a whole heap of delicious foods. The evening begins with the traditional dish, "cotechino e lenticchie." Cotechino is a savory pork sausage that contains "lo zampone," the actual hoof of the pig, and is a symbol of abundance. Lenticchie (lentils) are believed to bring good luck and prosperity in the coming year to those who eat them on New Year's Eve and represent the money that you will earn in the coming year. So the more you eat, the more you earn! If you're looking for love, or a bit of help in the fertility department, red underwear is the way to go on New Year's Eve. To complete the ritual, these red delicates must be thrown out on January 1. Sadly, several of Italy's more wild New Year traditions are rarely seen today. In the past, people would throw old personal effects out their windows (it doesn't hurt to be wary of open windows on New Year's just in case) and smash plates, glasses, vases and other pottery against the ground to drive away bad spirits.

Rounding out our list are the diverse New Year's traditions from the following destinations: Mexico; Japan; Philippines; Ecuador and Chile. To read how these cultures will be ringing in 2013 and Cheapflights.com's complete list of Top 10 New Year's Traditions, visit http://news.cheapflights.com/top-10-new-years-traditions.

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Skygate began the sourcing of complex air-travel data in 1992, while Cheapflights pioneered the online comparison of flight deals for users in 1996 and momondo launched meta-search in the Nordic countries in 2006. 

The Group has offices in London, Copenhagen, Boston and Toronto, with a consumer base across 16 core international markets but users all over the world.

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