In ancient Athens, the New Year started with the sighting of the first new moon after the summer solstice. In Brazil and a few other countries in Latin America, it is considered lucky to welcome in the New Year wearing new red or yellow underwear.
Learning about New Year's traditions around the world blends history and cultural geography with a little vicarious travel: http://www.fathertimes.net/traditions.htm provides detailed information on dozens of countries' New Year's traditions, www.travelandleisure.com/slideshows/worlds-strangest-new-year-traditions pairs great photos with contemporary New Year's traditions around the world, and http://www.almanac.com/content/new-year-traditions-around-world explains some of the history behind many of the traditions.
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