It is not only the festive mood and the delightful cheer that marks the New Year, but, one can also see some interesting rituals and customs being performed on this day. Over time, different beliefs and notions across the world have come to give birth to strange traditions being observed. So here we are, trying to “enlighten” you a little more about world’s Strangest New Year Traditions. Here goes :
In downtown Jo-burg, locals throw old appliances out the window. Heads up!
Hoping for a travel-filled year, residents tote empty suitcases around the block.
The faithful wear a costume of the next year’s 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 Year’s Eve, it’s 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.
It’s 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 people—called muñecos—are traditionally burned in New Year’s bonfires in Panama. The figures can include everyone from television characters like “Ugly Betty” to political figures like Fidel Castro (in 2007, Panama’s first Olympic gold medalist, track star Irving Saladin, was burned as a muñeco). The effigies represent the old year; immolating them is meant to drive off evil spirits for a fresh New Year’s start.
During the New Year’s 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 purify the coming year).
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 Year’s 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 husband; the one who finds a ring will marry a handsome one.
In (leaner) decades past, Estonians followed a custom of trying to eat seven times on New Year’s 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, however—especially in the party-hearty capital of Tallinn—tend to revolve as much around alcohol as food.
Central and South America
In Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela, it’s considered lucky to wear special underwear on New Year’s Eve; in cities like São 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.