Top 16 Unique New Year's Eve Traditions From Around the World

While dazzling New Year’s fireworks ignite skies around the world, many unique traditions illuminate little pockets of the globe as well. From smashed plates and scarfed grapes to pink undies and burning effigies, here are some of the weird and wonderful ways people across the planet bring in the new year.

Herein, we've traveled the world—virtually, at least—to round up some of the craziest and most creative New Year's Eve traditions out there, Bestlifeonline noted.

1.Throwing paper out the window - Unique New Year in Argentina

The pieces of confetti fluttering through the streets of Buenos Aires around lunchtime on December 31 appears celebratory, but the explanation behind the custom is more practical: Argentines shred all their old documents and papers before the the curtain falls on the year, to symbolise leaving the past behind. It’s hardly the most hazardous thing flying out of windows around the world on New Year’s, though — many other Latin American countries are fond of throwing buckets of water, while South Africans inelegantly deposit their old furniture onto the street from great heights.

New year's eve traditions around the world
Throwing paper out the window (Argentina)

2.Eating Grapes For Good Luck - Amazing Celebration for New Year in Spain

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Photo: M.themadisonrecord.com

In Spain, locals will eat exactly 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight to honor a tradition that started in the late 19th century. Back in the 1800s, vine growers in the Alicante area came up with this tradition as a means of selling more grapes toward the end of the year, but the sweet celebration quickly caught on. Today, Spaniards and non-Hispanics alike enjoy eating one grape for each of the first 12 bell strikes after midnight in the hopes that this will bring about a year of good fortune and prosperity.

3.First Footing - Amazing Celebration for New Year in Scotland

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Photo: Reddit.com

In Scotland, the day before January 1st is so important that there's even an official name for it: Hogmanay. On this day, the Scottish observe many traditions, but easily one of their most famous is first footing. According to Scottish beliefs, the first person who crosses through the threshold of your house after midnight on New Year's Day should be a dark-haired male if you wish to have good luck in the coming year. Traditionally, these men come bearing gifts of coal, salt, shortbread, and whiskey, all of which further contribute to the idea of having good fortune.

4.Smashing plates - Unique New Year in Denmark

If you want to make a new Danish friend for the new year, smash a plate against their door. The tradition is meant to bring the recipient good luck for the year ahead — the bigger the pile of shattered crockery on your welcome mat, the more good fortune you receive. Danes also jump off chairs to literally leap into the new year (hopefully avoiding any smashed tableware upon landing), and stay glued to their TVs for Queen Margrethe’s annual address plus a screening of black-and-white German comedy Dinner For One (known in Denmark as The 90th Birthday).

5.Gobbling grapes - Unique New Year in Spain

What began as an excuse for grape-growers to shed their excess produce a century ago has blossomed into a much-loved Spanish tradition, with Spaniards scarfing down grapes to each stroke of the clock at midnight. Each of las doce uvas de la suerte (the 12 lucky grapes) provides one month of good luck — completing the challenge means a full year of fortune, but fall a couple of munches short and you mightn’t have much to look forward to next November and December.

Unique New Years Traditions from Around the World Grapes Spain

6.Burning effigies - Unique New Year in Ecuador

Ecuadorians say ‘adios’ to the old year by incinerating huge effigies, or viejos, representing the old year. Families construct these enormous scarecrows out of paper and old clothes, pop a painted mask on top (anything from beloved cartoon characters to hated politicians), then ignite their creations when the clock strikes 12 to put the previous year to bed.

Ecuador also shares a tradition with next-door neighbours Colombia of walking around the block with a suitcase, representing all the travel they’ll enjoy in the new year.

7.Soba Noodles - Amazing Celebration for New Year in Japan

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Photo: LiveJapan.com

Just before midnight on New Year’s Eve, the Japanese eat soba noodles. The Toshikoshi Soba, which means “year crossing buckwheat noodle” has lots of symbolism. The long noodle denotes the crossing from one year to the next and the easy-to-nibble noodles signify a letting go of the past year’s regrets, a cutting-off if you will, before the fresh start the new year brings. Soba noodles are the main ingredient in this light and savory dish, according to Tasteofhome.

8.Round Shapes - Amazing Celebration for New Year in Philippines

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Photo: Pinterest.com

You’ll find round shapes all over the Philippines on New Year’s Eve as representatives of coins to symbolize prosperity in the coming year. Many families display piles of fruit on their dining tables and some eat exactly 12 round fruits (grapes being the most common) at midnight. Many also wear polka dots for luck.

9.Casting Molten Tin - Amazing Celebration for New Year in Finland

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Photo: Yle.com

In Finland, people predict the coming year by casting molten tin into a container of water, then interpreting the shape the metal takes after hardening. A heart or ring means a wedding, while a ship predicts travel and a pig declares there will be plenty of food, as regarded in Worldstrides.

10.Amazing Celebration for New Year in Canada: Ice Fishing

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Photo: Globalnews.com

In rural areas of Canada, New Year’s Eve is a time to spend ice fishing with friends. Celebrations on the frozen ponds and rivers tend to last all night as buddies fish in the open or in purpose-built fishing shacks and perhaps catch a fish or two to help celebrate the coming year. How fun would it be to catch your fish and host a fish bake on New Year’s Day?

11.Amazing Celebration for New Year in Australia: A Hot New Year's Eve

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Photo: Australiantraveller.com

Celebrate the holiday during the peak of the summer. In Australia, they celebrate New Year’s Eve while the sun is shining bright. Fireworks mark the end of the new year, the most elaborate occurring at midnight in Sydney Harbor.

The day is meant for relaxation, visiting family and friends, and if you have time, attending one of the many horse racing carnivals, parades, or summer fairs, according to Qualitylogoproducts.

12.Amazing Celebration for New Year in Russia: Drinking Ashes

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Photo: Enjoyrussian.com

Before you get grossed out, rest assured that Russians are not consuming human ashes or anything of the sort. Rather, in Russian culture, it is New Year's Eve tradition for folks to write their wishes down on a piece of paper, burn them with a candle, and drink the subsequent ashes in a glass of champagne.

13.Amazing Celebration for New Year in Brazil: 7-wave Jumps

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Photo: Pinterest.com

Thankfully, the weather in Brazil is nice all year since people love to celebrate New Year’s Eve in the water. It’s considered good luck if you can jump over seven different waves while making wishes, one for each wave. Additionally, they enjoy fireworks on Rio de Janeiro’s shores while eating lentils, which signify wealth. The most popular color to wear is white as it is said to bring good luck and peace. Similar to Años Viejos, they burn life-sized dolls with face masks that represent bad events from the past year.

14.Talking to the animals (Romania)

Dr. Dolittle, eat your heart out. Romanian farmers spend their New Year’s trying to communicate with their livestock, earning good luck if they succeed. And the unusual Romanian New Year’s traditions don’t end there — people also throw coins into rivers for luck, and dress up in bear skins then dance and play instruments from door to door, a ritual that’s intended to ward off evil spirits.

Unique New Years Traditions from Around the World

15.Putting mistletoe under the pillow (Ireland)

Single women in Ireland do a little more to find a hubby than simply slipping into a new pair of knickers. The Irish custom entails placing mistletoe — the wild berry associated with fertility in European mythology, and a kissing magnet over Christmas — under your pillow on New Year’s Eve, then burning it in the fire the next day in the hope of luring love in the next 12 months. Another unique Irish tradition involves hitting the walls and doors of your home with Christmas bread to ward off evil spirits.

16.Casting of tin - Unique New Year in Finland

Finns are able to see into the future — and it looks a little something like a melted piece of metal. The Nordic tradition involves melting a small horseshoe (for luck, of course) then tossing the molten metal into a bucket of cold water, where it re-hardens into a warped shape that predicts your fortune for the year ahead. Bubbles? Great, money’s on the horizon. Tin breaks up in the water? Yikes, that’s not good.

No matter where you're living in, spending New Year's Eve with at home with your family or going out with best friends and your beloved one can be a fantastic opportunity to bond, have fun together, and bring in the New Year with your loved ones. With all the possibilities for fun food, drinks, games and activities, spending New Year’s Eve at home can be a real treat.
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