Some New Years traditions exist in many places around the world. Fireworks, for example, are one U.S. tradition that you find in many places around the world. On the other hand, many New Year’s traditions in other places take a turn into the quirky. Here’s our favorite interesting traditions, and where you need to travel to witness them firsthand.
Join a “Fight Club” in Peru
The Takanakuy Festival is one of the weirdest we’ve heard about. Basically, Takanakuy means “when the blood is boiling,” and literally calls for people to get into bare-fisted fights with one another (overseen by local police). We’re told the fights are “friendly” and represent new beginnings for the new year! We’ll take their word for it.
Body Surfing in Brazil
“Jumping seven waves” on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro promises to bring good luck in the New Year. So join the party and plan to get in the mix – extra luck is promised to those who wear white while doing it as a peace offering!
Break a Plate in Denmark
It’s a little weird to Americans – where breaking things is often seen as a sign of bad luck. But in Denmark, a sweet little tradition takes the reverse angle. People collect broken cutlery all year and then head out into the streets on New Years Eve and smash them on beloved friends’ doorsteps. In the morning, the folks with the biggest mess are said to be most popular!
Eat Your Way to Good Luck in Estonia
In Estonia, extra meals promise good luck in the New Year. But before you join in, keep this in mind. The numbers seven, nine and 12 are the milestones to hit (you’re promised the strength of that many men). The capital city of Tallinn is a gourmet food lover’s dream, so in any event, it’ll be fun trying!
Wear Polka Dots in the Philippines
Good luck and prosperity in the Philippines is symbolized by all things round – yes, the shape. Tradition dictates this because round is the shape of coins – coins equals cash money! If you find yourself in the Philippines for New Years, join the local fun and don some circles for the party.
Eat 12 Grapes in Spain
The place to participate in this most Spanish of traditions is the Puerta del Sol in Madrid. You need a glass of cava in one hand and a glass of grapes in the other. When the clock strikes 12:00 on New Years Day, you eat a grape for each stroke of midnight. If you can do it (its not as easy as it sounds), you’re promised a year of prosperity!
Parade Around the Bahamas for Junkanoo
Bahamian people love a reason to party and New Years is a perfect excuse! The celebration on Junkanoo has its somber roots in slavery – the one time of the year when plantation owners would allow slaves to experience a little slavery. Nassau is a great place to see a Junkanoo parade – that starts at 2am on the 1st of the year and carries on until 10am!
Light a Scarecrow on Fire in Ecuador
Did you ever burn an ex’s old letters to banish that bad juju? Ecuadorians take a play out of that playbook, and give it a somewhat creepy twist. On New Year’s Eve, to banish the bad fortunes of the past year people create scarecrows filled with paper and burn them in effigy in the streets.
Make Out with Strangers in Venice, Italy
The tradition of kissing your loved one at midnight is a popular one the world over. In Venice, revelers gather on St. Marks Square for the countdown and they cram as many people onto the square as possible. If you’re looking for privacy, don’t head to St. Marks.
Toss Your Bed Out the Window in South Africa
The denizens of Johannesburg take “fresh start” to a whole new level. If you find yourself in town at 11:59pm on New Years Eve, avoid standing near any open windows and doors. People throw out old things – furniture, appliances, whatever moves them in the moment – to symbolically “clean house” for the coming year.
For more New Years celebrations, check out this post.