10 Weird New Year’s Eve Traditions

How will you bring in the New Years? Most likely you’ll be drunk on Tequila shots, blowing a device that creates noise, kissing a stranger, while wearing a hat that trumpets the year which we are welcoming in. Why? Because that’s our “craaaazy” tradition.

But how do they celebrate New Year’s in other parts of this kooky planet we call Earth? Most likely you won’t be running around the block with an empty suitcase or trying to make your cow talk – like they do elsewhere. Take my hand – oh dear reader – as we journey around the world with the weirdest New Year’s Eve traditions.


At precisely midnight in Stonehaven, Scotland, 45 men in kilts march through the center of town whirling flaming balls, attached to wire handles, over and around their heads. The traditional began back in the 19th century, but the origins date back to the old-timey Viking days where the use of the purifying flame was to ward off evil spirits and to endow the fishing fleet with good luck. Also, there are bagpipes involved.

Take that Time Square and your non-fiery ball drop!


When it gets close to midnight on NYE in Denmark, what you do is find a chair, stand on it, and then jump off precisely at midnight – literally jumping into the New Year.  This is supposed to bring good luck. Very important (which I want to stress), DO NOT have a noose around your neck while participating in this Danish good luck tradition.

The Danes also have the tradition of throwing plates at neighbors’ doors to symbolize their friendship. The person with the most broken plates is said to have the most friends…and the least amount of plates.


Hoping for a travel-filled year, the Colombian tradition is to tote an empty suitcase around the block in a power-walk.  The faster you go, the higher your chances you’ll end up traveling in the upcoming year. You can also race with your relatives – the relative that comes in last doesn’t get to travel. (Insert frowny face.) A great New Year’s Eve activity is to watch people running with satchels  like drunken idiots.

If you want more Colombian good luck, put on a pair of yellow underwear precisely at midnight – this will assure financial good luck in the coming year – and also will coin you with the nickname “banana bag.”


For residents of Johannesburg’s Hillsboro neighborhood, to start off with a fresh year, the idea is to throw old furniture out their window; rusty stoves, old TV sets, microwaves, chairs, etc…No chance for mishap here- with that great combination of drunk people and flying furniture. Surprisingly, the police are trying to stop this tradition – especially with those who have balconies.


In Central Chili, locals gather in cemeteries to welcome the New Year with their dead relatives by candlelight. The tradition started when one family broke into the graveyard on NYE to be near their dead father. 

The town’s mayor now opens the graveyard gates at 11pm on New Year’s Eve. Thousands of locals stream into the candle-lit tombstone plaza to celebrate the New Year to strains of classical music.


Hey-hey, it’s New Year’s Eve in Romania. One tradition, particularly popular with farmers, involves trying to hear your animals speaking human-language. That’s right, just like Dr. Doolittle – you talk to your cows. Here’s the twist: If they succeed, it’s a bad omen; if they fail, it is good luck for the upcoming year. (What if you own a parrot?)


Another Romanian tradition is to dress up like a bear and dance around. Looking like something right out of Borat – the custom is meant to purify and fertilize soil in the new year. Grrrrrr!


The Panama New Year’s Eve tradition of Muñecos Burning involves setting ablaze effigies of famous people who they do NOT care to see anymore in the New Year. The burning figures can range from television characters to political figures. In 2007, Panama’s first Olympic gold medalist, Irving Saladin, was burned as a muñeco. The effigies represent the old year; and burning them is meant to drive off evil spirits for a fresh New Year’s start.

To sum up, in America we’d be setting Katy Perry on fire.


The Finnish New Year’s Eve tradition is to melt a small tin horseshoe and then pour it into a cold bucket of water. You then interpret the shape taken by the tin – which is supposed to tell you your fortunes in the coming year. A ring shape means a wedding in the New Year; a ship forecasts travel; and a pig shape signifies plenty of food. And, an apple shape means you’ll get a big butt.


In America, we drop a big ball on Time Square to celebrate New Years. In Spain, they eat grapes. Spaniards welcome the New Year by quickly eating 12 grapes. Revelers gobble a grape per second as they countdown the last 12 seconds of the year. The tradition started in the 1800’s when there was a bumper crop of white grapes and signifies good luck for each month of the New Year. Those wacky Spaniards.

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