The 10 Weirdest New Year’s Eve Traditions From Around The World!


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…

1. BRAZIL:

Wear white to scare away bad spirits.

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…and… jump 7 waves for good luck (one for each day of the week)
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…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.

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2. BRITAIN:

Watch Jools Holland’s Hootenanny, even though it’s awful and everyone hates it.

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3. CHILE:

Eat a spoonful of lentils at midnight for a year filled with work and money.

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…and… sweep your house inside out to remove bad energy.

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4. ARGENTINA:

At exactly 12:00 midnight, step forward with your right foot to start the year off with…YOUR RIGHT FOOT!

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Wear brand-new pink underwear to attract love.

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5. COLOMBIA:

Walk around your block with an empty suitcase for a year full of travel!

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6. SCOTLAND:

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).

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7. SPAIN:

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.

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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!)

9. RUSSIA:

Write down a wish on a piece of paper, burn it, throw it into a champagne glass, and drink it before 12:01.

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10. AUSTRALIA:

Eat, drink, party and watch fireworks!

11. SOUTH AFRICA:

In downtown Jo-burg, locals throw old appliances out the window. Heads up!




 

12. JAPAN:

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.

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13. DENMARK:

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.

 

14. PANAMA:

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.

 

15. PHILIPPINES:

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.

 

16. BELARUS:

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.

 

17. ESTONIA:

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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52 Comments

  1. In Finland there is a tradition of melting tin, shaped like a small horse shoe, and once melt in a ladle you pour it into a bucket of cold water. Whatever figurine you get will predict your new year. You can project it with light on to the wall to try and see what it looks like.
    Also heard that this has been done in Germany.

    The suitcase tradition has to my knowledge been a Peruvian thing (also?)…and when in Colombia we bought yellow underwear!

  2. The dolls are called “años viejos”. This tradition is from Ecuador. “Panama hats” are also from Ecuador not Panama… Panama stole everything

  3. Oliebollen are round deepfried breads which mostly contain raisin. Another one is appelflappen which is the same but with slices of apple. Furthermore we spend millions of Euro’s on fireworks, drink champagne at midnight and buy lotery tickets.

  4. In Brasil it`s not Lemanja it`s Yemanja. She is not a goddes either. And the white is not to scary away bad spirits, it`s in honor of Oxala whom is the Greater Orixa. It`s aYoruba tradition.

  5. In Bulgaria we eat banitsa, which is a feta cheese pastry divided into pieces with a piece of paper hidden in each piece of pastry with a “luck” written on it. You choose your piece and the “luck” is what is going to happen to you in the new year. My nearly 90 year old granny still makes the banitsa for the whole family, I call in via skype on NYE to choose my piece – its a serious business! :)

  6. In Germany we have a lot of these traditions:
    -watching ‘Dinner for One’
    -lots of fireworks, alcohol and party
    -playing palour games and having a luxurious dinner (often fondue, raclette grill or carp but NO!!! goose or you will get bad luck the next year)
    -drinking a special punch named Feuerzangenbowle: is a traditional German alcoholic drink for which a rum-soaked sugarloaf is set on fire and drips into mulled wine.
    – Molybdomancy (‘Bleigießen’ in german): Tin is melted on a stove and poured into a bucket of cold water. The resulting shape is either directly interpreted as an omen for the future, or is rotated in a candlelight to create shadows, whose shapes are then interpreted
    -the pig traditionally is a lucky charm so we give pig-shaped sweets away for whishing the person luck in the next year (also possible four-leafed-clover-shaped, chimney sweeper-shaped or horseshoe-shaped sweets)
    -at 0:00 we open a bottle of sparkling wine, give hugs to everyone around and wish a happy new year

    I think there are a few more traditions but these are the traditions I know.

  7. Brazil:

    We see firework

    We wear white for peace

    Wear brand-new pink underwear or something to attract love, yellow to attract money, red to attract passion… Which color have a meaning and we dont wear black

    Its Iemanjá

    We eat 12 grapes (or 8, or 7, I dont really remember because I dont do that)

    We eat lentils for money

    We only eat animals that go forward, so we can go forward on 2015 (ex: chicken is forbidden)

    “Eat, drink, party and watch fireworks!” – we do that too

  8. One thing we do in Finland on New Year’s Eve is the casting of tin. Everyone gets a small piece of tin, cast in the shape of a miniature horseshoe (symbol of good luck). The horseshoe is melted and the liquid metal poured quickly in a bucket of cold water or snow, making it harden into a more or less irregular-shaped, solid clump.

    The shape and shadow of the resulting cast are examined and interpreted to predict the various future events of the coming year. Different shapes have different meaning, promising either good luck or health, wealth, happiness, sorrow, sickness, etc.

    We also watch fireworks at midnight and drink champagne or sparkling wine (depends on your own traditions). Aaand usually we eat sausages and potatosalad and lots of other cold and warm dishes.

    But mainly we just want to have fun (and drink alcohol) and be with our loved ones!

  9. I have been told the tradition you describe for Spain is actually the Italian tradition. We in Portugal also eat 12 grapes at midnight, as well as making tons of noise with metallic pots and wear blue underwear.

  10. Didn’t do the pot banging thing in New Zealand but do fireworks here in Timaru and as a child always did the first footing visiting of friends with drinks and food as I grew up in Central Otago which is a scottish settled province. We sing auld lang syne at midnight and kiss everyone who is around us. I guess it’s just traditions carried on through families and the town you live in.

  11. In centra Italy tradition says to eat lentils (to bring money), wear red underwear (to bring love) and to get rid of all the bad things from the past year one’s supposed to smash an old plate or bowl throwing it out of the window!

      1. Alejandra and Leandro, many of us do that, some years, depending on the crowed. It is not a very deep rooted tradition, nor is there a serious believe thing will go right that way, it is rather meant as a joke, but it is a common thing to do.

  12. (….running out to buy new underpants! :-D …) These are fun to read, I suppose the traditions are dying off everywhere, everyone staring into a cell phone at midnight to see what their friends are up to….Why is it, not just New Years, that only the women have man-finding traditions? You never hear of any men’s traditions about finding what kind of woman they might marry, or when. It’s like, ‘eh, there are millions of women around, I’ll get me a ball and chain when the time comes’. The girls go to great lengths to find predictions of when they’ll get married, what kind of man, what he’ll be like.

  13. In Poland there’s a tradition that dictates that you should collect a few scales of fish (we traditionally eat a carp on Christmas Eve dinner) and put them in your wallet on the 31st, and then keep them there for the entire year (sometimes only for the New Year’s Day). They are supposed to help attract money!

    And in general it is believed that however you spend the New Year’s Day (happy, sad, industrious etc.), your entire year will be like that! (Which usually means hungover.)

  14. the pots and pans thing is definitely something we did in the UK (Southampton.) Also one reveller would be stripped and dressed up like a baby and would be paraded in the street outside the house to symbolise the New Year.

  15. In Finland we melt horseshoe shaped metal (tin) and then throw the melted metal in cold water. Metal takes funny shapes and then you fortune tell the next year from the shape and forms.

  16. Russian New Years tradition is exchange presents at midnight, not burn Sh*t. New years in russian is like a USA Christmas we hang out with family give present we have a new years tree and a father frost who will bring presents to good children.

  17. Um. We Danes throw glasses and plates ar doors? I have friends and family in almost every region of DK abd I have never heard of that particular tradition. We DO, however, watch the Queen’s speech at 18, watch Dinner for One a quarter to midnight, and jump from chairs at midnight.

  18. How is Ecuador left off? I was there last year and all the men in the country dress up as women and go around begging for money like they’ve been widowed! They also burn muñecos there as well.

  19. The New Zealand tradition of banging pots is also alive and well in Australia.
    I’m in my fifties and can remember doing this as a child. My mother taught it to us and she they did it during her childhood as well.

  20. Interesting. Are these supposed to be real things? If so, number 8 is incorrectly labeled as New Zealand. For a start, it’s summer here at this time of year, people are not standing on snowy balconies wearing thick jackets… also, pot-banging may be a thing, but in my 32 years of life as a New Zealander, I’ve never heard of it.

    1. These are very much real! Interestingly, about 50% of the comments we received today from Kiwis said they’d never heard of this tradition before, while 50% did! Maybe it’s a north island vs south island rivalry? In any case, we’ve changed the image to make it reflect the current temperature over there! :)

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