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Quirky New Year's Eve Traditions around the World

31st December 2014

Forget fireworks. New Year’s Eve is celebrated in a myriad of fun, quirky and superstitious ways all around the globe. From running around the block with a suitcase to smashing dishes and wearing yellow underwear, the list goes on and on. Why not incorporate something a little different into your own celebrations this year? Here's some worldly inspiration.

finland new years eve

Read your fortune in melted ‘tin’ (Finland)
Molybdomancy is a Finish New Year tradition that involves melting ‘tin’ to tell one's fortune. The ‘tin’ (which is actually lead) is melted in a pot on the stove and then tossed into a bucket of cold water, where it hardens and takes shape. The unique formation is then analysed and one's fate for the year ahead read aloud for all to hear.

Eats 12 grapes (Spain)
Instead of erupting into cheer and dance, in Spain the locals eat 12 grapes as the clock strikes midnight – one with every chime. A superstitious tradition that rarely a Spaniard would miss, the grapes symbolise the 12 months of the coming year. Each bite bestows another month of good luck.

Hang an onion on your door (Greece)
Onions play a large role in the celebrations in Greece, where they hang them from their doorknobs and then, the next morning, tap their children on the head with it to wake them up before church. The onion (or 'kremmida') is considered a symbol of rebirth for the coming year. Another Greek tradition is to smash a pomegranate on the doorstep before entering the house on New Year’s Day for good luck and prosperity.

Wear yellow underwear (Colombia)
Many Colombians ring in the New Year in their finest yellow underwear to ensure plenty of wealth and prosperity for the coming year. Better yet, by wearing them inside-out that goes two-fold.

south america new years eve

Run around the block with your suitcase (Venezuela)
In Venezuela and many other South American countries it's not uncommon to see people wandering around with empty suitcases on New Year's Eve. Those wishing for a year full of travel to interesting places take their suitcases to their New Year’s Eve celebrations - or else run around the block with it.

Burn dummies of your enemies (Ecuador)
In a symbolic bid to cleanse away all the bad energies of the year past, Ecuadorians burn life-size dummies in the streets, including effigies of personal enemies, politicians and pop culture figures. By jumping the flames 12 times - one for each month of the year - it's believed that extra energy is harnessed for the cause.

Write a letter to your parents (Belgium)
New Year’s Eve in Belgium is called Sint Sylvester Vooranvond, or Saint Sylvester Eve, and is an extremely auspicious time. Children across the country write lovely letters to their parents or godparents, all beautifully decorated, before reading them out as the clock strikes 12. Those who fall asleep early instead share their kind words on New Year’s Day.

Smash dishes on your friends’ doorsteps (Denmark)
Old dishes are saved year-round especially for this time of year, when the locals throw dishes on their friends’ doorsteps as a symbol of friendship for the year ahead. The more broken dishes one finds on their doorstep, the more friends they’ll have.

ireland new years eve

Place mistletoe under your pillow (Ireland)
An Irish tradition that’s just for the single ladies, in Ireland women not only hang mistletoe on their door to attract a husband, but they also leave sprigs of mistletoe under their pillow for extra luck in love. Irish superstition also says that if the first person who enters the home on New Year’s Day is a red-headed woman, she will bring trouble, but if it’s a tall and dark handsome man, good luck and prosperity will follow.

Eat beans and go for a swim (Argentina)
Argentinians tuck into beans on New Year’s Eve to guarantee only good things ahead for their careers - whether that's to keep their current job or to open the doors to a new role. On New Year’s Day, they also flock to public and private pools, rivers and lakes for a swim, a sacred tradition that stems from the native locals.