Outlandish New Year’s Customs From Around The World
Pouring lead, eating grapes, wearing colorful undies or burning scarecrows might be weird New Year’s Eve traditions to some, but centuries-old customs to others.
Do you think that you celebrate New Year🎄 as normal🥳? After reading this article, you will understand there is no right way to celebrate🎊 a bygone 365 days and welcoming what lies ahead. However the common in all countries and continents is to make wishes and go in a new year full of positivity and believe in the best☃️❄️. And this is exactly what makes us close to each other despite all differences.
Leaving for quite some time in the Arabic world and meeting many people from all over the world🌍, I realized – world diversity – this is what makes our life so exciting and allows us to expand the borders. Can’t afford to travel🧳✈️ overseas or maybe you want to be in 2 countries🍣 🍕at the same time for the New Year celebration🥂? No worries😊. Keep your passport🎟 with you and I will take you with me to the most fascinating 🤹♀️🥁New Year celebration all over the world🗺. So I’ve rounded up the best of these annual customs for your amusement.
In Germany🇩🇪, Austria🇦🇹, and Switzerland🇨🇭 you can easily buy a lead-pouring kit. It has tin figures and a spoon with a wooden handle. Now you most probably want to know why🤷♀️? The tradition is called Bleigiessen. At home, families melt lead by holding a flame under a tablespoon. They pour it into a small container with cold water and the “frozen” shape is said to predict the coming year. The shapes have a different meaning and always open for debates🙂, however, the most interesting is a ball and a pig (not sure how often people see the pig 🤔). A ball means luck will roll your way and a pig means you’ll have plenty of food.
The New Year (actually 31st of December) has also a different name. It is called Silvester and involves parties💃🎅🏽🕺, fireworks🎆, and Sekt🥂 (German sparkling wine). The same name used in many other countries like Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland.
Jumping into New Year
Denmark🇩🇰 evening of 31st starts as normal, as most of you will think. They may not have their own Times Square like in New York or Red Square as Moscow has, but the people of Denmark still gather in masses to celebrate the new year. For the majority of Danes, it is the Queen’s New Year’s Eve speech that signals the beginning of the night at 6 pm. And then heads over to the Royal Palace in Copenhagen to wait for the clock’s chime. The traditional sweet🥞 comes in the form of a Kransekage. A towering cake made from layer-upon-layer of marzipan rings. The original name was overflødighedshorn. Try to pronounce when you are drunk🤪.
It’s also customary to literally jump🏃♀️ into New Year. Usually, it is a sofa🛋 or chair. Everyone is holding each other arms and jump (hopefully not twisting the ankle on the way to coming NEW 😳). And my favorite part… New Year night is a perfect time to cement the friendship with your new besties😁. You just shatter unused dishes and plates at the “friends” doors. I definitely want to be there to see those besties the next morning😂.
12 Grapes🍇 of Luck
In Spain🇪🇸 and some Latin American countries, people believe in the luck of grape🍇 and it is self-explanatory🍷. You need to eat 12 grapes, one for each month of the coming year, to secure prosperity. Sounds easy?🙌 Now imagine that you need to eat one grape with each bell strike at midnight. A glass of bubbly 🍾afterward might help to flush it all down. This tradition is believed to have been popularized in 1909 by farmers in Alicante as a way to dispose of surplus grapes from an uncharacteristically large harvest that year. Another custom is to wear colored underwear, each representing a different hope for the new year.
Ecuador🇪🇨 is another example of centuries-old customs. New Year is called Años Viejos. The people in Ecuador burn scarecrows🗿 at midnight. Scarecrows represent all bad that happened during the past year and the beginning of a new life full of luck and happiness. Scarecrows look like a doll🧸 filled with paper or sawdust and modeled after a public figure who somehow wronged the world in the previous year, such as a corrupt politician or a celebrity who fell from grace and the most popular are football⚽️ (soccer) players from opposing team. I would not want to see a burning doll with my face. This tradition originated in Guayaquil in 1895 when a yellow fever epidemic hit the town and coffins packed with the deceased’s clothes were burned for purification. The Ecuadorians also burn photographs from the previous year in the name of good fortune.
Romania🇷🇴 is a colorful and cheerful country steeped in tradition, pre-Christian rituals, and folklore. If you want to feel the spirit of the New Year❄️🎄, you better stay in the small village for the celebration. 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 bear🐻 enters somebody’s house, it brings prosperity, health, and good fortune. I would suggest staying awake😳 when you see knocking bear🐻 to your door🚪 early in the morning.
“Round” New Year’s Eve
Round Food, Round Clothes, as long as it’s round! The people in the Philippines🇵🇭 believe that everything should be round during New Year’s Eve🎄. Therefore they are surrounding themselves with round things that meant to bring money💰 or fortune💎. Don’t be surprised to see girls wearing clothes with polka dots. To really push Fortuna, they throwing of coins around the house and keeping in pockets, constantly jangled. The celebration includes plenty of noise with horns🎺🎷🥁, music🎼, yelling, blowing whistles, clanging pots and pans, and lighting firecrackers to keep away bad luck and evil spirits. Before the clock strikes midnight, all the windows and doors🚪, including cabinets and drawers, are left open to allow good luck to enter.
Drink Your Wish
🎄New Year❄️ in post-Soviet Union countries is celebrated in a similar way as Christmas in Europe. The Russian Santa, or Ded Moroz🎅🏽 (Father Frost) and his granddaughter Snegurochka👸🏼☃️ (the Snow Maiden) putting presents🎁 under Christmas Eve🎄 during the day and it can be opened only after midnight. There is also another tradition of writing your wish down📝 on a small sheet of paper, burn it, and then drop the ashes into your glass of bubbly🥂 or grape🍷. Have your drink right before midnight and your wish will come true in the new year. This tradition wasn’t widely popular before releasing the movie Yolki🎄 (Christmas Trees) in 2010 and each year after. This movie becomes very popular and the forgotten custom again resurged.
“Out with the old” for New Year! Italians🇮🇹 and South Africans🇿🇦 throw their old crockery and even furniture out through the window at midnight. This is a symbol of letting go of the past year while making way for better things in the New Year. Watch your head, while walking in Naples or Johannesburg on New Year Eve, you never know what is waiting for you around the corner. Here it comes to my mind Demi Lovato’s song ‘Let it go!’ Just imagine😂! It is also customary to leave the doors and windows open on New Year’s day to let good spirits in while the cold draft wafts the evil spirits out.
Wear Colorful Undies
Oh-la-la! These hot Latinos are the most creative. In Latin American countries like Mexico🇲🇽, Bolivia🇧🇴, and Brazil🇧🇷, the color of your undies 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. In Brazil🇧🇷 also, people celebrate New Year’s Eve by wearing white to their celebrations. This color helps distract the evil spirits as they enter the new year.
Another way to celebrate the New Year in the water and catch 7 waives for luck. Most probably they are already lucky to have warm water in wintertime😀. Puerto Ricans🇵🇷 also have a strange tradition of welcoming the new year. In some parts of Puerto Rico, people throw pails of water out of their windows to drive off evil spirits. Nevertheless, it is good to have an umbrella☔️ with you when decide to celebrate the New Year in this country.
Scots🏴 like to keep it classy and unique, even in their New Year’s tradition. They call it Hogmanay. Neighbors🏘 visit each other and impart wishes during this day. The first person to cross the threshold of a home in the new year should carry in a gift🛍🎁 for good luck. However, it is not enough: it has to be a tall handsome man with dark hair🧔🏻, also known as quaaltagh or qualtagh. The tradition probably dates back to the Viking days when big, blond strangers👱🏻♂️ (commonly armed with axes and swords🏹) at the door🚪 meant trouble. Meanwhile, the celebration outside involves traditional bagpipes and drums🥁 playing. There are also balls made of wire filled with paper and material scraps that are set on fire and tossed into the bay.
Japan🇯🇵 is a Buddhist country, therefore their religion determines its customs. At midnight, all temples all over Japan ring their bells 108 times to dispel the 108 evil passions all human beings have, according to Buddhism and known as joyanokane. Japanese believe that it will cleanse them from their sins of the previous year. Traditionally, 107 bells are rung on the last day of the year and the 108th in the new year. Another tradition is to eat buckwheat noodles called toshikoshi soba on New Year’s Eve to symbolize the wish for long life.
I took you through a very small part of different traditions and customs. There are many more to discover. So, tell me now do you still think that you celebrate New Year as normal? Maybe for some other people, it will sound weird and this is a beautiful part of it. Stay different and strive for more. Maybe you can try to celebrate this year differently😀… for luck in the new year🙃.
I wish you all the Happiest New Year and let this year open a new chapter of your life full of joy, success, and happiness!
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