Update: we’ve added more unusual NYE traditions to the bottom of list following your comments! Keep them coming and we’ll keep on adding them!
Every country has its New Year’s traditions, but here is a visual blog of the funniest and most unusual traditions we’ve discovered from around the globe.
What’s your New Years tradition? Add it to the comments section below…
Wear white to scare away bad spirits.
…and… give some gifts to Goddess Lemanja. She’s the goddess of water, and she loves gifts, especially flowers. So throw some into the ocean — if they come back, it means she didn’t accept them. Don’t worry, you can try again next New Year’s Eve.
Watch Jools Holland’s Hootenanny, even though it’s awful and everyone hates it.
Eat a spoonful of lentils at midnight for a year filled with work and money.
…and… sweep your house inside out to remove bad energy.
At exactly 12:00 midnight, step forward with your right foot to start the year off with…YOUR RIGHT FOOT!
Wear brand-new pink underwear to attract love.
Walk around your block with an empty suitcase for a year full of travel!
During the New Year’s Eve celebration of Hogmanay, “first-footing” is practiced all over Scotland. The custom dictates that the first person to cross the threshold of a home in the New Year should carry a gift for luck (whiskey is the most common). The Scots also hold bonfire ceremonies, most notably in the small fishing village of Stonehaven, where townsmen parade while swinging giant fireballs on poles overhead (supposedly symbols of the sun, to purify the coming year).
You must eat a grape (or uvas) with each bell strike at midnight for prosperity. Each grape supposedly signifies good luck for one month of the coming year. In Madrid, Barcelona, and other Spanish cities, revelers congregate in the main squares to gobble their grapes together and pass around bottles of cava.
8. NEW ZEALAND:
Bang pots and pans as loud as you can (Editors note: about 50% of Kiwis told us they’d never heard of this tradition while 50% of Kiwis said they had!)
Write down a wish on a piece of paper, burn it, throw it into a champagne glass, and drink it before 12:01.
Eat, drink, party and watch fireworks!
11. SOUTH AFRICA:
In downtown Jo-burg, locals throw old appliances out the window. Heads up!
The faithful wear a costume of the next year’s zodiac animal (in 2014: a rooster) to the local temple, where bells chime a sacred 108 times.
Surprisingly, KFC is HUGE in Japan at both Christmas and New Year. Thanks to a successful marketing campaign in the 1970s, Japan now associates Christmas and New Year’s Eve with KFC so strongly that there are huge queues outside the nation’s KFC shops on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
Danes ring in the New Year by hurling old plates and glasses…against the doors of friends’ and relatives’ houses. They also stand on chairs and then jump off them together at midnight. Leaping into January is supposed to banish bad spirits and bring good luck.
Effigies of well-known people—calledmuñecos—are traditionally burned in New Year’s bonfires in Panama. The figures can include everyone from television characters like “Ugly Betty” to political figures like Fidel Castro (in 2007, Panama’s first Olympic gold medalist, track star Irving Saladin, was burned as a muñeco). The effigies represent the old year; immolating them is meant to drive off evil spirits for a fresh New Year’s start.
Round shapes (representing coins) are thought to symbolize prosperity for the coming year in the Philippines; many Filipino families display heaps of round fruits on the dining table for New Year’s Eve. Other families are more particular; they eat exactly 12 fruits at midnight (grapes, which are also eaten at midnight in Spain, are easiest). Still others wear New Year polka dots for luck.
During the traditional celebration of Kaliady, still-unmarried women play games to predict who will be wed in the New Year. In one game, a pile of corn is placed before each woman, and a rooster is let go; whichever pile the rooster approaches first reveals who will be the first to marry. In another game, a married woman hides certain items around her house for her unmarried friends to find; the woman who finds bread will supposedly marry a rich husband; the one who finds a ring will marry a handsome one.
In (leaner) decades past, Estonians followed a custom of trying to eat seven times on New Year’s Day, to ensure abundant food in the coming year. (If a man ate seven times, he was supposed to have the strength of seven men the following year). Modern-day celebrations here, however—especially in the party-hearty capital of Tallinn—tend to revolve as much around alcohol as food.
18. CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA:
In Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela, it’s considered lucky to wear special underwear on New Year’s Eve; in cities like Sao Paulo and La Paz, market vendors start displaying brightly colored underpants a few days before the holiday. The most popular colors are red and yellow: red is supposed to bring love in the coming year, and yellow is supposed to bring money.
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