11 Weird & Wonderful New Year Traditions Around the World

As the clock strikes midnight on December 31st, millions of people across the globe will celebrate the dawn of a new year in their own peculiar ways. Some will smash plates, some will burn scarecrows, some will whisper to cows, and some will even dive into a frozen lake with a Christmas tree. These are not the hallucinations of a drug-fueled frenzy, but the actual customs and rituals that different cultures have developed to mark the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. In this article, we will explore some of the most bizarre and fascinating new year traditions from around the world, and try to understand the meaning and symbolism behind them. Buckle up, because this is going to be a wild ride.

People in Peru take the opportunity to settle scores in a fist fight. (Image: NY Times / Mike Kai Chen)
  1. ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ Spain: Revelers eat 12 grapes at midnight, one for each bell strike, to bring good luck and prosperity for the next 12 months
  2. ๐Ÿด๓ ง๓ ข๓ ณ๓ ฃ๓ ด๓ ฟ Scotland: The first person to enter a house after midnight is called the first-footer, and should bring gifts of coal, salt, shortbread, and whiskey for good fortune.
  3. ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Denmark: People smash old plates and glasses against the doors of their friends and relatives to ward off bad spirits and show affection.
  4. ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช Belgium and Romania: Farmers whisper to their cows on New Yearโ€™s Day, hoping for a good harvest and healthy animals.
  5. ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ Switzerland: People drop a scoop of ice cream on the floor to symbolize abundance and wealth.
  6. ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ธ Siberia: Divers cut a hole in the frozen Lake Baikal and plant a Christmas tree at the bottom of the lake to show their bravery and endurance.
  7. ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Chile: Some families spend the night at the cemetery with their deceased loved ones, lighting candles and playing music to honor their memory.
  8. ๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ช Peru: Some people participate in a friendly fist fight called Takanakuy to settle their differences and start the new year with a clean slate.
  9. ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น Italy: People wear red underwear on New Yearโ€™s Eve to attract love, luck, and prosperity in the coming year.
  10. ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡จ Ecuador: People burn paper-filled scarecrows and photographs of the past year to symbolize leaving behind the bad and embracing the good.
  11. ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ด Romania: People dress up as bears and dance around to ward off evil and ensure a good harvest.
The Danish NYE tradition involves plate-smashing, as it is believed that the sound wards off bad spirits.

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We have seen that the world is full of weird and wonderful ways to ring in the new year, each with its own history and significance. Why not experience them for yourself? With Global Admissions, you can browse and apply to hundreds of university courses in these countries and more, and get ready to immerse yourself in a new culture and a new adventure.

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