New Year’s Eve is a fairly standard affair in most places in the UK. We tend to get a little merry, watch Jools Holland’s Hootenanny because there’s nothing better on the TV and then maybe have a little sing song of Auld Lang Syne, but that’s usually about it.
However, there are places around the world that have a whole host of crazy New Year traditions. Here are some of the most bizarre…
Chile - Eat a spoonful of lentils for each month of the year
We have absolutely no idea what lentils have to do with New Year, but in Chile they eat 12 spoonfuls of them at midnight for each month of the coming year for a year of work and money. 12! Hopefully they’re cooked and mixed with something and not just dry.
Colombia - Walk around the block with an empty suitcase for a year of travel
There’s a tradition of sorts here in the UK that you should walk out the back door and in the front door for some reason, but in Colombia they go a bit further and you need to take a trip right around the block with an empty suitcase if you want a travel-filled year.
El Salvador - Crack an egg into a bowl and leave it overnight
It’s getting weirder! In El Salvador, it’s tradition to crack an egg into a bowl and leave it overnight. Whatever form the egg takes the following day apparently tells your fortune for the year. We imagine many people have 'circular' fortunes, whatever that means.
Peru - fight your neighbours!
Whilst this may happen in some parts of the UK at New Year anyway, fighting your neighbours is a tradition in certain parts of Peru at the annual Takanakuy Festival. The fighting (there’s dancing as well apparently) is to settle old differences and start the year with a clean slate.
Spain - Eat a grape with each bell toll at midnight
That’s 12 grapes in about 12 seconds. That sounds horrible and actually pretty difficult. If you’ve had a bit to drink then you might see those grapes again pretty soon afterwards.
Romania - Talking to your cows
Whether or not this is done under the influence of alcohol is unclear, but apparently if Romanians succeed in communicating with their cows, it’s a bad omen for the year. There are no doubt some very lucky people in Romania.
Siberia - Jumping in a frozen lake with a tree
Japan - Ring bells 108 times
Whilst ringing bells to signal New Year isn’t that bizarre, the Japanese channel their Buddhist traditions by ringing them an oddly specific 108 times. This is said to bring cleanliness for the coming year.
Finland - Melting metal
Native Fins are said to melt down tin and pour it into cold water to solidify it again. In a similar way to the eggs in El Salvador, whatever shape the now-solid metal takes is said to symbolise fortunes for the coming year.
America - Possum dropping
This isn’t a US-wide tradition, but rather just for the town of Brasstown, North Carolina. Brasstown claims to be the possum capital of the world, and so they lower a possum in a see-through box over a noisy crowd. Why? We have no idea.
Denmark - Smashing plates
It may sound like something the Greeks might do, but Danes keep broken or unwanted crockery throughout the year before smashing it on New Year’s Eve. They don’t smash it on the floor, however, but against the front doors of their friends and neighbours.
South Africa - Furniture throwing
In the Hilsboro district of Johannesburg, South Africa, locals like to start the new year afresh by lobbing all their old and unwanted items out of the window onto the street. Not such a happy time for those who have to clean it up, however.