strangest new years traditions
Great balls of fire Scotland
. From great balls of fire, to possums, grape eating and animal whispering, we reveal the worlds weirdest New Year customs.In Stonehaven, Scotland, there is a custom of parading through the streets on New Years Eve while swinging blazing balls of fire around. The tradition is part of Scotlands Hogmanay celebrations, although its roots trace back to the Vikings.
Graveyard camp Chile
. Locals inTalca, central Chile, like to see in the new year in the company of their dead relatives. Thought to have begun when a family broke in one year to be near their dead father, the town mayor now opens the graveyard after late night mass and thousands sit surrounded by candles while classical music plays.
Animal whispering Romania
. Farmers try to hear their animals talk in a ritual which, if successful, signifies not just a Doctor Dolittle gift for communicating with our furry relatives but good luck for the coming year.
Mass kissing Venice
. St Marks Square is known for holding not only a big firework display over the Basin of St. Mark but for something far more unusual, a mass kiss in in the piazza.
Throwing furniture South Africa
. Look out below! Its the idea of starting the new year afresh that leads residents of Johannesburg, those in Hillsboro in particular, to throw old furniture out of their windows. Italians follow a similar tradition and, not wanting to be lumbered with anything unwanted, conduct an early spring clean by way of their windows.
Underwater tree planting Siberia
. This is the Siberian custom of cutting a hole in the ice covering Lake Baikal and diving to the lakes bottom while carrying a New Years tree. Note only professional divers participate.
Dinner for one Germany
. This old British comedy sketch, about a lonely 90th birthday dinner, has been inexplicably embraced by Germans, and is broadcast in many homes during new year festivities. It is up to the butler, James, to play the role of Miss Sophies departed friends, getting more and more drunk as he does so.
Bear dances Romania
. People wanting to celebrate new year in Romania put on bear costumes and furs and dance at different houses to keep evil at bay.
Possum dropping America
. In the town of Brasstown, North Carolina, a possum in a transparent box is lowered over a noisy crowd, in the worlds only known possum drop. It reflects Brasstowns claim to be the possum capital of the world.
Grape eating Spain
. Revellers seeing in the new year in Spain have their mouths full when they try to stuff twelve grapes in one for each chime of the clock during the countdown.
Cold swimming UK
. Nearly 2,000 people braved the icy water last year in Saundersfoot, Wales, to raise money in a charity swim. The cold is also perfect for curing a New Years Eve hangover. Swims take place in the Firth of Forth in Scotland too.
. In downtown Jo burg, locals throw old appliances out the window.
. Hoping for a travel filled year, residents tote empty suitcases around the block.
. The faithful wear a costume of the next years zodiac animal (in 2014 a horse) to the local temple, where bells chime a sacred 108 times.
. Danes ring in the New Year by hurling old plates and glasses against the doors of friends and relatives houses. They also stand on chairs and then jump off them together at midnight. Leaping into January is supposed to banish bad spirits and bring good luck.
. At midnight on New Years Eve, its customary in Spain to quickly eat 12 grapes (or uvas)one at each stroke of the clock. Each grape supposedly signifies good luck for one month of the coming year. In Madrid, Barcelona, and other Spanish cities, revelers congregate in the main squares to gobble their grapes together and pass around bottles of cava.
. Its a longtime Finnish tradition to predict the coming year by casting molten tin into a container of water, and then interpreting the shape the metal takes after hardening. A heart or ring shape means a wedding in the New Year; a ship forecasts travel; and a pig shape signifies plenty of food.
. Effigies of well known peoplecalled muecosare traditionally burned in New Years bonfires in Panama. The figures can include everyone from television characters like Ugly Betty to political figures like Fidel Castro (in 2007, Panamas first Olympic gold medalist, track star Irving Saladin, was burned as a mueco). The effigies represent the old year; immolating them is meant to drive off evil spirits for a fresh New Years start.
. During the New Years Eve celebration of Hogmanay, first footing is practiced all over Scotland. The custom dictates that the first person to cross the threshold of a home in the New Year should carry a gift for luck (whiskey is the most common). The Scots also hold bonfire ceremonies, most notably in the small fishing village of Stonehaven, where townsmen parade while swinging giant fireballs on poles overhead (supposedly symbols of the sun, to p
. Round shapes (representing coins) are thought to symbolize prosperity for the coming year in the Philippines; many Filipino families display heaps of round fruits on the dining table for New Years Eve. Other families are more particular; they eat exactly 12 fruits at midnight (grapes, which are also eaten at midnight in Spain, are easiest). Still others wear New Year polka dots for luck.
. During the traditional celebration of Kaliady, still unmarried women play games to predict who will be wed in the New Year. In one game, a pile of corn is placed before each woman, and a rooster is let go; whichever pile the rooster approaches first reveals who will be the first to marry. In another game, a married woman hides certain items around her house for her unmarried friends to find; the woman who finds bread will supposedly marry a rich
. In (leaner) decades past, Estonians followed a custom of trying to eat seven times on New Years Day, to ensure abundant food in the coming year. (If a man ate seven times, he was supposed to have the strength of seven men the following year). Modern day celebrations here, howeverespecially in the party hearty capital of Tallinntend to revolve as much around alcohol as food.
Central and South America
. In Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela, its considered lucky to wear special underwear on New Years Eve; in cities like So Paulo and La Paz, market vendors start displaying brightly colored underpants a few days before the holiday. The most popular colors are red and yellow red is supposed to bring love in the coming year, and yellow is supposed to bring money.
. To banish any ill fortune or bad things that happened in the past year, Ecuadorians set fire to scarecrows filled with paper at midnight on New Years Eve. They also burn photographs of things that represent the past year, which leads us to believe that New Year is just a thinly veiled excuse for Ecuadorian pyromaniacs to set things on fire.
. In the Philippines New Year is about one thing, and one thing only; cold hard cash. Hoping to bring prosperity and wealth for the year ahead, Filipino people try to use as many round things as possible to represent coins and wealth. Round clothes, round food, you name it; if its round, they want in.
. If youre ever in Denmark and wake up to find a pile of smashed crockery outside your door, youve either annoyed the local chapter of the Womens Institute or its New Years Eve. Unused plates are saved up all year, until the 31st of December when they are hurled at the front doors of your friends and family in a strangely vandalistic display of affection.
Eating 12 grapes
. As the clock counts down to 12 and people around the world are preparing to watch fireworks and drunkenly kiss each other, Spaniards are staring at bunches of grapes with a steely gaze. This challenge involves stuffing your face with 12 grapes, one for every ring of the bell. Succeed and youve got good luck for the year ahead.
. This annual Peruvian festival held at the end of December is all about people beating the living daylights out of each other. Competitors face off in a ring for a round of bare knuckle brawling, which is overseen by local policemen. Takanakuy literally means when the blood is boiling, but apparently all of the fights are friendly, and represent a fresh start for the year.
. Think the countdown of 12 rings takes too long? Try 108 on for size. In Japan bells are rang 108 times in a Buddhist tradition that is believed to banish all human sins. Its also good luck to be smiling or laughing going into the New Year, but who knows how you can be in a good mood after having to sit through that prolonged ringing.
. In South American countries such as Mexico, Bolivia and Brazil, your fortunes for the year ahead are all decided by your underpants. Those who want to find love wear red underwear for New Year, whilst gold diggers should opt for yellow, which brings wealth and luck. If youre just after a bit of peace for the New Year, some white pants should do the trick nicely.