Photo courtesy of France Tourism.
While I enjoy a quiet and rather uncomplicated evening at home this New Year's Eve, I know there will be people all over the world celebrating in ways beyond my traditional midnight "smooch."
In Spain, burning straw dolls in the street or eating 12 grapes at the strike of midnight are quite normal. However, in Italy, wearing red underwear or throwing old clothes out of the window ring in the new year.
For the romantics in France, New Year's Eve is often commemorated with a feast (including pancakes, foie gras and champagne) followed by a formal ball or a torchlight procession to pick grapes. In the UK, a romantic cruise down the River Thames is the perfect option.
In The Netherlands and Norway, eating a donut (or anything shaped in a ring) is considered to bring good fortune. In Germany, some believe leaving a bit of every food on the table until after midnight will ensure plenty of food in the new year.
Single girls in Ireland place mistletoe under their pillow to help them find a husband. Friends in Denmark express their loyalty to one another by breaking dishes on each other's doorstep. The family with the biggest pile of broken plates and glasses is considered the most lucky because they have lots of loyal friends.
Men in Scotland parade the streets swinging large balls of fire over their heads to bring about purification. In Belgium, farmers bless their livestock to ensure 365 days of good health and well-being. Dropping a dollop of cream on the floor for good luck, wealth and peace is preferred in Switzerland.
Children of Portugal go caroling house to house where they are given coins and treats. While in Greece, children's shoes are stuffed with gifts at midnight.
In Poland, smudging windows and doorknobs with tar drives out the old year and welcomes the new. In Austria, molten lead is poured into cold water and then predictions for the new year are made based on the shapes formed.
Wherever you are, and however you plan to celebrate, I wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous new year!