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New Year’s Traditions From Around The World

When you think of New Year’s, you likely think of the countdown to the ball drop at midnight, followed by a champagne toast and maybe a special kiss at midnight. While this is common and customary for folks who grew up or live in the United States, a look at New Year’s traditions around the world may make us scratch our heads. While these practices may seem taboo, most of the reasons behind them make sense.

Chile – Sleeping With The Dead

Though a fairly new tradition (said to have originated in 1995), this practice of sleeping in graveyards is common in the small town Talca, Chile. It is said that a family jumped the fence of a cemetery to celebrate New Year’s Eve with their deceased father. Since then, the practice has caught on and you’ll find many locals at the cemetery on the eve of the New Year. While the act may seem creepy in itself, the sentiment is sincere.

Denmark – Smashing Plates

Smashing plates doesn’t seem too out of the ordinary, but the significance is a bit confusing. People in Denmark smash plates against their neighbor’s doors, and those with the most broken plates on their doorstep are said to be the most popular. Quite an interesting way to show affection, if you ask us.

Romania – Talking To Animals / Bear Dancing

Romanians have two bizarre traditions. On New Year’s Eve, farmers in Romania often talk to their livestock in order to bring them good luck in the coming year. Elsewhere in Romania, some people dress up in bear costumes, or brightly colored clothing, and dance at various houses in order to ward off bad spirits and demons. These dancing bears may also earn tips for their community service.

Estonia – Eating Too Much

In Estonia, on New Year’s Eve, it is customary to consume a total of seven meals for that day. These seven meals are supposed to ensure abundance throughout the New Year. In the US, I think we call this Thanksgiving.

Panama – Burning Celebrity Effigies

Burning effigies, celebrity or not, seems like a crazy practice. But in Panama, the act of burning celebrity effigies is said to bring good luck for the New Year, so locals gather to celebrate on New Year’s Eve.

Scotland – Balls Of Fire

On New Year’s Eve in Scotland, you’ll find men walking around in their kilts swinging fireballs over their heads. This is part of their Hogmanay (last day of the year) celebration, and a somewhat dangerous way to celebrate. Please don’t try this at home.

South Africa – Throwing Furniture

This is a practice banned by law, yet some still partake in it. On New Year’s Eve, some people may throw their old furniture out of their windows. It is said to be a way of symbolizing “out with the old, in with the new.” Unsafe and illegal, it may be best to avoid this practice all together.

Siberia – Underwater Tree Planting

In Siberia, trees are planted in freezing cold water on New Year’s Eve. This is done as a sign of peace for the New Year. This should only be carried out by professional divers as obvious health and safety risks are present.

Peru – Beating Each Other Up

Though celebrated on Christmas Day rather than New Year’s Eve, this tradition is just as outrageous as the aforementioned. In Peru, the Takanakuy fighting festival is a way to settle conflicts from the year in a battle of fisticuffs. Men, women, and children participate in order to enter the New Year with a clean slate.

Have we missed anything? Let us know! Share your unique New Year’s traditions with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, or Pinterest!

At, your safety is important to us. However you choose to celebrate the New Year, please do so responsibly. Enjoy a safe & Happy New Year! We’ll see you in 2015!

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Happy New Year Around The World
Happy New Year from! Think your family follows some crazy traditions? Check out these unique New Year’s rituals.
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