The Weirdest New Year’s Traditions From Around the World
New Year isn’t all about fireworks and popping champagne – sometimes it’s about smashing plates, setting fire to scarecrows, and throwing furniture off your balcony. We live in one truly diverse and wacky world, and these strange New Year’s traditions are proof. Read up and discover the weird and wonderful ways people celebrate New Year.
New Year’s traditions from around the world:
- Ecuador – Burning scarecrows
- Naples, Italy – Throwing furniture
- Denmark – Smashing plates
- Japan – 108 chimes
- Scotland – First footing
- Philippines – Round stuff
- Mexico – Colourful undies
- Idaho, USA – Potato drop
Burning scarecrows – Ecuador
In Ecuador, people release all the bad energy from the past year by building scarecrow-like figures that represent politicians, pop stars, and other notable figures. In the midnight hour, they set those scarecrows on fire, releasing the negative energy of the last year and cleansing before the next. Typically the scarecrows will be made from old clothes stuffed with paper or sawdust, complete with a mask. Creepy!
Throwing furniture – Naples, Italy
You’d better watch your head if you’re in Naples on New Year! People take the saying ‘out with the old, in with the new’ a little too literally. In an effort to get a fresh start in the year, Napoli locals throw their old furniture and possessions off their balconies. Anything from toasters to fridges can be chucked over the railings (though locals generally stick to small and soft objects these days). It’s like spring cleaning, only you don’t have to wait for the council pickup.
Smashing plates – Denmark
If you’re ever in Denmark on New Years you might wanna stay away from front doors. The Danes collect unused dishes from the past year, then throw them at the front doors of friends and family on New Year’s Eve. The bigger the pile of broken dishes on the ground in the morning, the more friends you have and the more good fortune you’ll get in the next year. It’s all considered to be one big, affectionate activity. Urban and city living is making it harder for Danes to keep up this plate smashing tradition, but you’ll still see some dedicated plate smashers if you know where to look.
108 chimes – Japan
In Buddhism, humans are believed to possess 108 evil passions. On New Year, Buddhist temples around the country will ring their bells 108 times in an attempt to purify and cleanse the sins from the last year. Tradition has 107 bells ringing on New Year’s Eve and the 108th on New Year’s Day.
First foot – Scotland
What better way to start the New Year than with a guest bringing coins, coal, bread, salt, and a bit of whiskey! According to Scottish folklore, the first foot (or quaaltagh) is the first person to cross the threshold after midnight – in other words, the first guest of the year. A house is blessed with the best luck if their first visitor happens to be a tall, dark-haired male with gifts of food and whiskey. It’s thought this tradition started in the Viking days when a big, blonde stranger knocking on the door meant trouble!
Round stuff – Philippines
We’ve already seen how a huge part of New Year traditions is ushering in wealth and prosperity, and in the Philippines, they take that matter seriously. New Year in the Philippines is all about round things. Filipinos believe that the round shape represents coins and wealth, so they stock up on as many of the good stuff as they can. Round fruit, polka dot clothing, round foods, round toys… as long as it’s round, it’s in.
Colourful undies – Mexico
Ever given thought to the colour of your undies on New Year? You could be missing out on some real manifestation action. In Mexico and other Latin American countries like Bolivia and Brazil, the colour of your undies on New Year will determine your fortune for the year ahead. Wanna channel some love and romance? Go for red undies on New Year. Want wealth and success? Do yellow. White is for ushering in peace and harmony, while green undies will bring you good wellbeing.
Potato drop – Idaho, USA
One of the most recent New Year traditions is the dropping of the potato in Idaho, USA. Hardly the craziest tradition on this list, it’s still one weird way to celebrate the New Year. For the last five years, Idaho locals have been ushering in the New Year by watching a giant potato fall from the sky. The potato (also known as a glowtato) weighs over 150kg and garners a crowd of more than 40,000 people.