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December 2015

World’s Strangest New Year’s Eve Celebrations

New Year’s Eve traditions from around the world

The world is an amazing place with a trove of traditions. This is perhaps most apparent during the end of the year, when people get together to remember times past while celebrating days to come. New Year’s Eve is a moment when endings and beginnings become one and the same, providing the perfect holiday for both bombastic, fiery celebrations and somber, heartfelt remembrances. Let’s take a look at some of the strangest New Year’s Eve celebrations from around the world.

Great Balls of Fire (Scotland)

In a parade in Stonehaven, Scotland, participants march while swinging large balls engulfed in flames. The tradition is tied to the country's celebration of Hogmanay, a New Year’s tradition practice dating back to the Vikings but now wholly Scottish.

Letting Those Selfies Burn (Ecuador)

In Ecuador, scarecrows are burned at midnight on New Year's Eve to remove any bad fortune from the year prior. Also burned are photographs from the concluding year. It’s a very literal way to let go of the past that offers much catharsis.

That Crashing Sound of Love (Denmark)

In Denmark, revelers toss old plates at the front doors of those they care about. Throughout the year, unused plates are collected for this tradition. So if you live in Denmark and find a pile of broken porcelain in front of your home, know that you are thoroughly loved. Still, this seems safer than the Italian tradition of throwing old appliances out of homes or the South African tradition of throwing old furniture out the window.

Faces Red With Affection and Also Blood (Peru)

If you've a delicate face, you might want to stay away from the Takanakuy Festival of Peru. At the end of December, participants face off in a bare-knuckle battle regulated by local policemen (takanakuy translates to "when the blood is boiling"). The friendly battles are representative of letting go and starting anew.

Camping With the Dead (Chile)

In Chile, many spend the night in cemeteries to give some company to their deceased loved ones. It's a nice celebration that both remembers and celebrates those who have passed. Just remember to forego the campfire and s’mores.

Husband Leaves for Good (Ireland)

In Ireland, single women seeking husbands can forego Tinder and opt for a bunch of leaves under their pillows. Mistletoe leaves, specifically, are thought to bring new husbands to those seeking one, and they attract good fortune for all the rest. In another tradition, bread is thrown at walls to get rid of evil spirits, especially spirits with an intolerance to gluten.

Grapes of Not Wrath (Spain)

In Spain, stuffing 12 grapes into your mouth at midnight brings good luck for the coming year. Pro-tip: Red grapes are usually smaller than green grapes.

A Country-wide Buffet (Estonia)

In Estonia, revelers eat seven times on New Year's Day to ensure a lot of plenty in the following year. Eating like a Hobbit also has the beneficial effect of deep sleep when it comes to bedtime.

No Room For Squares (The Philippines)

Those in the Philippines adore anything round during the coming of the New Year, as circular things are thought to bring good fortune for the following year. Polka dot patterns are worn and round fruit are eaten. The celebration gives literal meaning to the phrase "no room for squares".

The Colour of Your Calvin Kleins (Latin America)

In Latin American countries including Bolivia, Brazil, and Mexico, your prospects for the following year are only as good as the colour of your underpants. If love is what you seek, red is what you ought to wear. For those looking for the glimmer of gold, yellow is clearly your best choice. For those that think more of others, opt for white, as it's the colour for attracting peace. This tradition is most popular in Sao Paulo, La Paz. In Bolivia, it is believed that changing one’s underwear at midnight brings good fortune.

This is our final post for 2015! Thanks for reading this year, and be sure to stay tuned for more articles on culture and language from around the world. Let us know: What is your favorite New Year’s Eve celebration? How does your country celebrate the holiday? Leave a comment on Facebook and be sure to follow us with a “like”. Happy New Year!

Picture: (c) Fotolia, Romolo Tavani