People around the world have developed customs to bid farewell to the past year and ring in the next. Lucky charms often play an important role in New Year's traditions. New Year's in Japan is an opportunity to start over with a clean slate. The maneki neko cat brings good luck. If it waves its right hand, wealth is in your future, and a wave with the left paw brings luck.
In Germany, people often give each other chimney sweep figurines or miniatures pigs. Another popular tradition is pouring hot lead into cold water. As it cools, it forms unique shapes that serve as an oracle for the coming year.
In Spain, people prepare for New Year's Eve by stocking up on grapes. At the stroke of midnight, 12 grapes are eaten - one for each chime of the clock. It's bad luck if you don't eat all 12 grapes before the last chime has rung.
In Greece, people often play cards on New Year's Eve - for money. The winner won't have any financial problems in the new year. But tough luck for the losers, though they'll have a second chance on New Year's Day. If they find the coin baked into the traditional vassilopita cake, then their luck is restored. Throwing pomegranates on the ground is also said to bring wealth and luck in Greece.
Brazilians have many lucky New Year's traditions. Some meet at the beach to jump over seven waves. Others ensure success in the coming year by wearing all white. Even the color of their underwear is an expression of their wish for the new year: red for love, white for peace, and yellow for money.
Be careful when drinking champagne at midnight on New Year's Even in Chile. A ring is often placed in the bottom of the glass to bring wealth and good fortune. Many Chileans also burn dolls made of old clothing. They write the previous year's misfortunes on a piece a paper which is put in the doll's pocket before it's burned at midnight.
In Mexico, New Year's begins with a trip around the block. At midnight, when the clock strikes 12, people take their suitcases and walk through the street or around their house. The act is said to ensure travel in the coming year. It also brings luck to sweep the driveway and then burn the broom - and with it, all the grime from the past year.
Many businesses in Argentina clean the slate at the end of the year by shredding old documents on January 1. The strips of paper are then thrown out the window, so that it looks like it's been snowing the whole day.
Bathing in a tub full of rose petals on New Year's Eve brings luck in Colombia. Roses are a symbol of wealth and perfection. Colombians also eat 12 lentils to ensure that the coming year will bring abundance rather than dearth.
As 2012 becomes 2013, DW journeys through the world of lucky charms.