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Top 15 New Year’s traditions from around the world

A sparkler on a stick, part of new year's traditions, against a blue background.

Every year, on December 31, people all over the world gather together to farewell the year past and mark the start of the year to come. Most of us think of New Year’s Eve as a time for parties, champagne and fireworks, but in some countries, they celebrate the end of the year a little bit differently.

So if you’ve ever wondered how New Year’s traditions differ around the world, well, this is how.

  1. In Spain, it’s customary to eat a grape on each of the 12 chimes when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve. It’s thought that each grape brings you luck for each coming month of the new year and that sounds pretty good to us.
  2. In many Latin countries, wearing yellow underwear on NYE is thought to bring good fortune for the coming year.
  3. Make like the Colombians and carry an empty suitcase around—it’s thought to bring more travel into your life.
  4. In Scotland, if you’re the first person to enter someone’s house in the new year, you had better come bearing a gift. The ‘first-footer’ is seen as the bringer of good fortune for the year (no pressure).
  5. In Greece, they hang onions on the front door as a symbol of rebirth on January 1st. Parents then wake their children on New Year’s Day by tapping them on the head with the onion because who doesn’t want to start the year being woken with an onion to the head?
  6. Ecuador farewells the year by burning large scarecrows filled with sawdust and paper in the streets. Eat your heart out burning man.
  7. In the Philippines, they equate roundness with prosperity, so on NYE you can expect to see a lot of people wearing ¬polka dots and eating oranges.
  8. In Peru, there is a province where they bring in the New Year with fist fights. The annual Takanakuy festival is believed to clear the air for the year ahead and while it seems a bit rough to us, it’s definitely tradition (don’t try this one at home).
  9. Siberians jump into frozen lakes while holding tree trunks. Enough said.
  10. The Finnish melt tin until it’s molten and then pour it into cold water. Whatever shape the tin sets into is said to reveal what’s instore for the year ahead.
  11. In Denmark you’ll see people jumping off chairs as the clock strikes midnight—literally leaping into the New Year.
  12. Never a country to skip carbs, the Irish bang on the walls with loaves of bread to chase away bad luck.
  13. In Romania, farmers will listen to their animals speak and if they don’t hear anything it’s said to be good luck. I foresee a lot of very lucky Romanian farmers.
  14. It really is out with the old and in with the new in South Africa, where in Johannesburg they throw old furniture out of the window in search of a fresh start.
  15. In the city of Talca in Chile, locals spend the night celebrating New Year’s Eve at local cemeteries. As spooky as it sounds, they believe spending the night with their deceased loved ones will bring peace to their hearts and ensure a lucky new year.

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