We know all about the grape-eating tradition in Spain on New Year’s eve, thanks to Modern Family. On further inspection, when it comes to celebrating the New Year, it seems that everyone has a bizarre way of doing things and celebrating the ushering of a new year. In no particular order of peculiarity, we bring you the strangest of these traditions to herald in the new year!

1. Suitcase Walk, Ecuador

Image Credits: www.telegraph.co.uk
Image Credits: www.telegraph.co.uk

While some people go out for a little walk right before the clock strikes 12, many in Ecuador take their empty suitcase for a stroll around their homes in the hope of travelling more in the new year.

2. Funky Underwear

Red Underwear, Turkey

Turkey  NYE tradition

While opening the tap and letting the water run is one tradition said to bring abundance to the home, the women in Turkey wear red underwear which is meant to bring love in their lives.

Speaking of wearing funky underwears on New Year’s eve is not limited to just Turkey. In some South American countries wearing colored underwear will determine your fate for the new year. Red underwear means you’ll find love. Gold means wealth, and white signifies peace.

Changing Underwear At Midnight- Bolivia

It is much like the New Year tradition followed in Mexico where people wear yellow underwear for inviting luck with the only difference being that Bolivians wait for midnight put on yellow underwear. Bolivians believe that with the change in the undergarment at the strike of midnight on New Year’s Eve will also bring about change in their fortunes.

3. Gluttonizing, Estonia


Estonia NYE
Image Credits: mic.com

Estonians followed a custom of eating SEVEN times on New Year’s day to ensure food abundance in the coming year (and of course increasing their chances of obesity) It was believed that if a man was able to eat seven meals, he would possess the strength of seven men the following year.


  1. Graveyard Camping, Chile

Image Credits: blog.crystaltravel.co.uk

Chileans take celebration with their families to a whole new level. Apparently, locals in central Chile, celebrate the new year’s eve in the company of their dead relatives. The town mayor opens the graveyard after late-night mass and thousands sit surrounded by the graves of their dear ones.

  1. Underwater tree planting, Siberia

Siberia NYE
Image credits: shlok.mobi

This is the Siberian custom of cutting a hole in the ice covering Lake Baikal and diving to the lake’s bottom while carrying a New Year’s tree. Of course, only professional divers are bestowed with this task!


  1. Broken Plates, Denmark

Image Credits: http://www.oddee.com/

Don’t be surprised if on New Year’s Day you have a pile of broken glass on your doorstep. In fact, you should be concerned if you don’t. In Denmark, throwing plates and glass at a door is a symbol of affection — the more shards on your porch, the more loyal your friends are. The more dishes thrown at you, the luckier you are!

  1. Round things, Philippines

Image Credits: list25.com

Round food, round clothes, as long as it’s round it’s supposed to represent coins and usher in wealth. Additionally, the people turn on all the lights in the house on New Year’s Eve to ward off evil spirits. Some also open all the doors, cabinets, and windows and then run around shutting them after it hits midnight. If that wasn’t strange enough, many natives fill pots and pans with water and throw the water out the front door once the clock strikes midnight.

  1. Takanakuy Festival, Peru


Image Credits: qcostarica.com
Image Credits: qcostarica.com

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. Battling their way they start the year off on a clean slate.

9. Wearing white and jumping over seven waves, Brazil

BrazilThe most obvious custom is wearing a completely white outfit to symbolize peace and renewal, but there’s another tradition stemming from the Afro-Brazilian religion called Candomblé that originated from slaves in Bahia. After the clock strikes midnight, people head to the sea and jump over seven waves. This is so that they earn the goodwill of Iemanjá, goddess of the sea.

10. Roosters predicting marriage, Belarus

Image Credits: Image credits: www.travelandleisure.com
Image Credits: Image credits: www.travelandleisure.com

During the traditional celebration of Kaliady, still-unmarried women place a pile of corn is before them, and a rooster is let go; whichever pile the rooster approaches first reveals who will be the first to marry.


  1. Cheese and sweet cakes

    Big Cheese Drop, Plymouth

Image Credits: www.visitsheboygancounty.com

While the people in Switzerland herald in the new year by dropping ice cream, the town of Plymouth, Wisconsin witnesses a big cheese drop. Every New Year’s Eve the town holds the Big Cheese Drop to help celebrate the dairy industry. Supposedly, a local artist creates an 80-pound chunk of Styrofoam cheese which is dropped from a height of 30 metres at the stroke of midnight. Naturally, you’ll find plenty of cheese-related refreshments, music, and games to fuel the lively atmosphere!

Sweet Coins, Bolivia

Image Credits: viralluxury.com
Image Credits: viralluxury.com

While food is concerned, people in Bolivia are not far behind. In Bolivia coins are baked into sweets and whoever finds the coins has good luck for the next year.

While each of these customs appear strange to us, they do share an optimism that’s hard to not appreciate. To some the New Year is just another set of months and days, for others it’s an avenue to begin afresh and open their doors for new experiences and new beginnings! Here’s to creating our own traditions this New Year’s eve!

Out with the old, in with the new. Happy New Year!

Feature Image Credits: www.worldreligionnews.com

Surbhi Arora

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