10 Weird New Year’s Eve Traditions Around The World

Eating grapes, wearing polka dots, or burning scarecrows might be weird New Year’s Eve traditions to some, but centuries-old customs to others.
As the old year comes to a close, we have a look at some of the most interesting traditions to welcome the new year. While some customs like popping champagne, fireworks and counting down the last few seconds seem universal, many countries have their own unique ways to celebrate. Follow us around the world with these New Year’s Eve traditions, make a wish, and have a happy new year!

1. Wear colorful undies – Mexico

Wear colorful undies

In Latin American countries like Mexico, Bolivia, and Brazil, the color of your panties will determine what kind of year you’ll have, so choose carefully! Tradition holds that red will bring love and romance, and yellow leads to wealth and success. White stands for peace and harmony, while green signifies well-being and nature. In Turkey, red panties are also handed out as gifts for good luck and the promise of a fruitful new year.

2. Scarecrow burning – Ecuador

Scarecrow burning

In Ecuador, people build scarecrow-like dolls of politicians, pop stars, or other notable figures to set them alight. Burning the año viejo (old year) is meant to destroy all the bad things from the last year and cleanse for the new. The scarecrows are made from old clothes stuffed with newspaper or sawdust and a mask is fitted at the end. The Ecuadorian tradition possibly originated in Guayaquil in 1895 when a yellow fever epidemic hit the town, and coffins packed with clothes of the deceased were burnt for purification.

3. Break a Plate (or Two) – Denmark

Break a Plate

A Danish New Year’s Eve tradition is to throw plates and dishes against friend’s and neighbor’s front doors. It’s a bit of a popularity contest as the bigger the pile of broken china is the next morning, the more friends and good luck you’ll have in the coming year. In times of apartment and urban living though, it’s a dying tradition, but smashing fun for those who still practice it. Another custom in Denmark is the jumping off chairs at midnight, symbolizing the leap into the New Year when the clock strikes 12.

4. Animal Spirits – Romania

Animal Spirits

Romania is a country steeped in tradition. Especially in rural areas, New Year’s Eve highlights include mask dances and ceremonies about death and rebirth. Dancers dress up in furs and wooden masks depicting goats, horses, or bears, then dance from house to house to ward off evil spirits. The dance of the bear is the most popular. According to pre-Christian folklore, if a bearenters somebody’s house, it brings prosperity, health, and good fortune.

5. Tossing furniture – Italy

Tossing furniture

“Out with the old” is the motto in Naples, where people toss everything from toasters to fridges off their balconies. Getting rid of old possessions symbolizes a fresh start in the new year. To prevent serious injuries, most locals stick to small and soft objects for their throwing tradition, though it’s still a good idea to watch your head should you travel to Naples (or Johannesburg, South Africa, where this custom is also practiced).
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