10 of the World’s Weirdest New Year’s Eve Traditions

New Year’s. It’s a time for celebrating with friends and family, looking back over the previous 12 months and wishing each other the best for the year to come. It’s also a time for some truly wacky (and fun) traditions. How strange? Just check out this list of the 10 weirdest New Year’s traditions from around the world.

South America

Revelers in Brazil, Bolivia, Venezuela and other South American countries ring in the New Year by wearing brightly colored underwear. In cities like Sao Paulo, market vendors put out large displays of these underpants a few days before the holiday—red to bring love in the coming year, yellow for money.

Denmark

Danes welcome the New Year by standing on chairs and jumping off together at the stroke of midnight. Literally leaping into January is believed to banish bad spirits and bring good luck.

Philippines

In the Philippines, New Years is all about dots—polka dots, that is. Every year, Philippine people wear polka-dot clothing and fill their tables with round shaped foods. All these rounds things resemble coins and symbolize prosperity in the coming year.

Scotland

The Scottish get fired up—literally—for New Year’s with the Hogmanay Festival. On the 31st of December every year, Scotsmen parade around town swinging blazing balls of fire over their heads. It’s a tradition that dates back to Viking times. The fireballs are believed to bring purification and sunshine.

Mexico

Communicating with the dead is a strong part of Mexican culture, and this extends to New Year’s as well. In fact, this holiday is widely believed to be the best time to communicate with loved ones long gone and ask for guidance in the year to come.

Ireland

Many an Irish lass looks forward to New Year’s Eve in hopes of finding true love. To help make their wishes come true, young women all over Ireland place mistletoe leaves under their pillows to help ensure they’ll meet their future husbands in the coming year. They also believe the mistletoe rids them of bad luck.

Russia

Perhaps the most dangerous celebration is what takes place on Baikal, the world’s deepest lake. Divers cut a hole in the ice. One of them carries a New Year’s tree to the bottom of the lake while the others swim/dance around it. At the end of it all, the divers get their pictures taken with The Ice Maiden and Father Frost, two popular figures in Russian culture.

Finland

A long tradition in Finland is predicting what the New Year holds by casting molten tin into a pan of water and interpreting the shape the metal takes. Heart or ring shapes mean a wedding in the New Year; a ship forecasts travel; and pig shapes signify abundant supplies of food.

Chile

In the small town of Talca, people ring in the New Year by hanging out in the cemetery. At 11pm sharp every New Year’s Eve, the Mayor opens the cemetery gates and the townspeople are welcomed with classical music and dimmed blinking lights. They believe the spirits of their deceased loved ones wait for them in the cemetery and that this is the best way to start the New Year with them. It all began in 1995, when a local family jumped the cemetery fence to spend New Year’s near their father’s grave. Now over 5,000 people have adopted this tradition.

Germany

Every year since 1972, Germans welcome the New Year by watching the exact same episode of the British TV show, Dinner for One, at midnight. Same dialogue, same script every year. Nothing new. No one knows just how this tradition began, but it’s so popular that even the punch line “same procedure every year” now is a catch phrase in Germany.

Celebrating New Year’s Eve with kids

There’s no reason why celebrating New Year’s Eve with the kids in tow can’t be a fun time. Sure, you may not get to drink quite as much bubbly as you might have pre-kids, but that’s OK. New Year’s Eve can be an uplifting night of family fun. Here are some suggestions on how to ring in the New Year and keep the kiddos happy.

With kids on New Year’s Eve, timing is everything. If they have the willpower and stamina, letting them stay up until midnight with the adults is, in a kid’s eyes, really, really cool. It’ll definitely be a memory and tradition they will always have with them. If they’re too sleepy, you can put them to bed early, and then rouse them about an hour before midnight. And if the kids won’t make it until Midnight no matter what, have an early New Year’s Eve celebration. You can even set the clocks forward.

Kids love to celebrate and carry on New Year’s Eve is the perfect night to do so. You can encourage the kids to make their own New Year’s Eve costumes or pick up some inexpensive party supplies such as hats, noisemakers and decorations from the dollar store. There’s also the old-school route of taking some pots and pans outside at midnight and clanging them together, although be advised: the neighbors may not find this tradition very amusing.

Food. You are going to want lots of it for New Year’s Eve. Kid-friendly food such as popcorn and hot chocolate are sure to be enjoyed. And what kid doesn’t love snacks?! Let the kids help make some New Year’s Eve snacks of their own in the kitchen ahead of time. Or make some old-fashioned cookies and celebrate the New Year with a cookie (or maybe two) and a glass of milk once midnight arrives.

Gathering around the television and watching the celebration may be perfectly suitable for some kids, although others might get bored. Make sure you have lots of activities planned. It’s always easier to keep children entertained on New Year’s Eve if you invite another couple and their kids over. Having a dance party or dance-off competition can be a fun game for all ages. And if it’s snowy outside, doing some late night sledding (with adult supervision of course) can make for a memorable New Year’s Eve.

New Year’s Eve Party songs

It’s New Year’s Eve and you’re in charge of picking out the music for the big night. There are the New Year’s Eve classic tunes to pick from and then there are some newer tunes you might consider. Here are some celebratory songs that will sound just right as you and family and friends ring in the New Year.

Kool and the Gang – Celebration – This one is a time-tested classic that everyone will enjoy.

Prince – 1999 – At the risk of sounding dated, you may consider including this Prince classic cut.

Johnny Mathis – What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve – This crowd pleaser will go over big time on New Year’s Eve, especially for the older folks.

Beatles – In My Life – Be prepared to shed a tear as you slow dance to this Fab Four ballad.

Auld Lang Syne – This quintessential New Year’s Eve classic should be in your playlist.

Europe – The Final Countdown – If there are some ‘80s hair-metal rockers in your New Year’s Eve party crew, fire this song up and see if they don’t react.

Black Eyed Peas – Let’s Get it Started – No matter when you play this awesome BEP track, it is bound to generate some energy in the room.

Abba – Happy New Year – Did you know the original title of this 1980 song by Swedish vocal acrobats, Abba, was “Daddy, Don’t Get Drunk on Christmas Day?” It sure was!

Frank Sinatra – It Was a Very Good Year – Someone better play this on New Year’s Eve or else some legs are going to get broken. Seriously, someone play this song, now.

Dan Fogelberg – Same Old Lang Syne – If your New Year’s eve crew was around in the 1980s or happened to meet their loved one in a supermarket, they will enjoy hearing this track.

Other New Year’s Eve songs you might consider for your playlist: BB King “Bringing in a Brand New Year”; Louis Armstrong “What a Wonderful World”; Lady Gaga “Just Dance”; Donna Summer “Last Dance”; Rihanna “Umbrella.”

Celebrity resolutions for 2012 we’d like to see

America is fascinated by celebrities. Once upon a time, tabloids were the only media that devoted their entire coverage to the celebrity culture. Now there are websites, television shows, networks and reality shows dedicated to covering celebrity in miniscule, if not trivial detail. Our obsession with celebrity seems like it will last a long time—at least well into 2012. With that in mind, here are celebrity resolutions we’d like to see in the New Year.

Lady Gaga: I will release a new album digitally with a pay-what-you-like model and all the proceeds donated to charity.

Donald Trump: I agree to participate in a one-hour live reality TV show in which I have a wig-off with William Shatner.

The Kardashians: We will relinquish our celebrity status and go back to anonymity.

Lindsay Lohan:  I will stay home more often.

Chris Matthews: I will let someone finish their sentence.

Charlie Sheen:  I will take the year off and stay out of the news.

Justin Bieber: In the time-honored tradition of going out when you’re on the top, I will be retiring.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt: We will continue to do humanitarian work even though we are mocked for doing so.

Jennifer Lopez: I am not dating anyone for a year. No one at all.

Madonna: I will invent a functional time machine and go back to the golden era of being a cute and bubbly pop singer.

Dr. Phil: I will stop asking, “What makes you think this is the right way to behave?” of my guests.

Courtney Love: I will not air my dirty laundry on social media.

Miley Cyrus: I will not allow any cameras around me when I am just hanging out with friends and might say or do something embarrassing.

Seinfeld: I will go through with a full-fledged reunion in 2012. And it will be awesome.

Oprah Winfrey: I am going to empower everyone to change the world. And it will happen.

Best romantic songs for New Year’s Eve kiss

Auld Lang Syne. Really? Aren’t there other songs that are just as appropriate to smooch your sweetheart to as you ring in the New Year?! Absolutely there are. Here are our picks for some really romantic songs that sound especially great on New Year’s Eve and will get your year started off on the right foot.

If you’re going old school

Fans of the Fab Four may enjoy, “In My Life,” an achingly beautiful ballad that is perfect for a slow dance when the clock strikes midnight. Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed,” a love song to Macca’s late wife Linda, is a really touching love song is sure to get the job done as well. And for the really romantic, try John Lennon’s “Oh My Love,” which is sparsely arranged and is an eloquent ode to love.

Johnny Mathis’ “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” is a time-honored classic that still sounds sublime after all these years. Want to kick it old-school with your longtime love? Why not give Frank Sinatra’s “You Brought a New Love to Me” a spin and you’re guaranteed to get at least a New Year’s smooch in return. Anita Day’s “I Love You” and Glenn Miller’s classic “Moonlight Serenade” are also stellar choices of songs to pucker up to on New Year’s Eve.

Fans of R&B and soul have several great choices for music that will ring in the New Year with a peck on the cheek. Sam Cooke’s rendition of “What a Wonderful Life” is a romantic and nostalgic number that almost everyone knows by heart. Stevie Wonder’s “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” is probably one for lovers-only and well, Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On” is about as romantic as things can get musically.

Don’t forget Barry White’s “Love’s Theme” which is a recognizable song that is sure to be a hit when celebrating New Year’s Eve. If you grew up listening to music in the ‘70s, Kenny Loggins’ “Celebrate Me Home” may make your partner swoon and if you’re a produce of the ‘80s and new wave, Modern English can help you celebrate the New Year with a kiss with their hit, “Melt With You.” (Hairspray not included.)

Holiday recipes: Appetizers, main course and dessert

There is so much to love about the holidays: Seeing old friends, visiting with family and taking some time away from work to enjoy the important stuff in life. And then there is the food; so much of it to enjoy! While your waist line may need to be taken out in your pants after the holidays, there’s no reason we should stop eating, right? Here are some awesome holiday recipes, many of which are suitable for Thanksgiving and Christmas and any other holiday parties happening in your neck of the woods.

Appetizers

Baked brie – How can you make brie better? Heat it up and drizzle with honey, that’s how!

Maryland Crab Dip – You don’t have to be from the east coast to enjoy this classic dipping delight. Dig in!

Sausage stuffed mushrooms – Never mind where mushrooms come from. Just stuff them with sausage and enjoy.

Bacon Wrapped Shrimp – Add a little zing to your appetizer offerings with these heavenly delights. Bacon makes everything better.

Main Course

Roast Turkey – No one can cook a turkey quite like mom can.

Ham in the Crock Pot – Slow and steady wins the race and this ham will taste absolutely delicious when cooked in the Crock Pot.

Old-Fashioned Bread Stuffing – Skip the Stove Top and make the effort worthwhile with this old-school recipe for stuffing.

Candied Yams – These yummy yams are always a holiday hit.

Mom’s old-fashioned mashed potatoes – This traditional side can’t be beat for its delicious taste—even better with gravy! And speaking of gravy, you can choose from over a dozen innovative recipes to make the tastiest gravy ever.

Dessert

Did you save room for dessert? You better have because this awesome cheesecake recipe is the perfect touch at the end of a holiday meal.

Don’t forget Grandma’s Yule Log recipe. It is a time-honored tradition. And it tastes delightful! And there is always pumpkin roll to cap off a Thanksgiving meal with loved ones.

Most memorable holiday television specials

The holidays are a great time for families to get together, hang out and eat lots of food. And once dinner has been served, it’s time to sack out on the couch and watch TV.

New for 2011 is a Peanuts special called “Happiness is a Warm Blanket Charlie Brown” which features the Peanuts gang. And while Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas is an oldie, that doesn’t mean it’s not a goodie. For the lighter side of holiday specials check out Adam Sandler’s Eight Crazy Nights or the Sandler-produced The Hebrew Hammer.

The Wizard of Oz” is usually on one of the cable movie channels during the holidays. And if none of those options get you in the holiday mood, bust out your DVD of The Yule Log and contemplate why you’re being such a Scrooge this holiday season.

Here are some of the television holiday specials that have grown near and dear to our collective hearts over the years.

WKRP in Cincinnati – “Turkeys Away” – This classic Thanksgiving television episode is a reminder that turkeys cannot fly. Under any circumstance, including when they’re dropped out of a helicopter. You can watch the whole episode on Hulu or see an abbreviated version featuring Les Nessman’s live-on-the-air play by play of turkeys hitting the ground. Watch: Hulu | YouTube.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade – New York City is home to the Macy’s Day Parade, an annual tradition that began in 1924. The three-hour event is televised live and each year new balloons are introduced. New floats for 2011 include Sonic the Hedgehog (second version), Julius and a creation by film director Tim Burton.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving- You’d think that Charlie Brown would catch on at some point that Lucy isn’t going to hold the football for him. Well, good ol’ Chuck does not figure it out in this Peanuts holiday special. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving originally aired in 1973 and the culmination of the episode is a grand feast in which Snoopy serves up food and throws plates to the guests Frisbee-style.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony – America’s most popular Christmas tree will be lit on November 30 this year. It’s a holiday tradition that dates back more than 75 years and is broadcast live around the globe.

Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest (formerly Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve) is an annual tradition that got its start in 1972. Seacrest came on the scene in 2005, after Clark suffered a stroke and could no longer host the show on his own. The countdown of the ball dropping in Times Square is legendary.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – This 1964 stop-motion animated TV special is a holiday favorite, if for no other reason than the awesomeness of Clarence the Abominable Snowmonster (you know him when you see him). And Rudolph is no slouch himself. His brightly colored nose is powerful enough to act as a headlight for Santa and the other reindeer pulling Santa’s sled.

Make a New Year’s resolution that matters

Every New Year’s it’s the same thing. You tell yourself that you’re going to make a change this year that will really make a difference in your life. And in the lives of others. Well, if you’re going to make a resolution this year, make it one that really matters. Here are some great ideas for New Year’s resolutions that can have a significant positive impact and work towards the greater good.

Volunteer – There is something in the act of helping out others with no expectations that is really rewarding and enriching. Expand your personal horizons by donating an hour or two each week to a local charity. Consider volunteering at your local hospital, enrolling your dog in a pet therapy program or getting involved in an outreach program through your church.

Donate money – If you’ve been fortunate enough to do well financially in these tough times, consider donating money. Your financial advisor will know the best strategy to maximize the tax benefit of your donation and you’ll feel good knowing your dollars will help those less fortunate.

Lose weight – With an obesity crisis in the U.S., it’s no wonder our culture is obsessed with losing weight. But how many of us stick with it and make the lifestyle changes needed to drop weight? Make this the year you commit to getting your weight down to a healthy range. The benefits you’ll enjoy will have a long-lasting impact on your health.

Exercise more – None of us really exercise as much as we should. Well, not most of us anyway. March yourself over to your local YMCA and ask for a tour. Seriously consider getting a membership. Government guidelines recommend at least 30 minutes a day of exercise and up to 60 minutes of exercise if you’re looking to lose weight. Exercise also helps alleviate stress and depression — what’s good for the body is good for the mind as well.

Stop drinking – Admittedly, this resolution might be tough to pull off. So let’s just suggest that maybe you scale back your drinking some in the New Year? They say that wine, when consumed in moderation, has many health benefits … Hmmmm, we’ll drink to that!

Learn how to be mindful – While mindfulness is a practice that is Buddhist in nature, more and more non-Buddhist psychologists are recommending their patients learn the practice. It’s about being present in the moment and training oneself to experience all the beauty life has to offer right here, right now.

Create less waste – There are hundreds of ways you can reduce the amount of waste you create. Reuse, recycle and repurpose. Don’t buy new stuff; look for it at second-hand shops and garage sales. Turn your waste into compost. However you go about it, creating less waste will benefit us all.

Stop drinking bottled water – Instead of plunking down for bottled water, invest in a water filtration system such as Brita and refillable water bottles. Take the money you save and put it into a savings account and watch your little next egg grow over the next 12 months.

Festive recipes for Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a celebration of family, community and culture, which begins on December 26 and ends on January 1. Kwanzaa culminates in a feast and gift-giving on New Year’s Eve. Here is a sampling of some of the most festive recipes which are often served while celebrating Kwanzaa.

Vegetarian stew – Stews are often served at Kwanzaa celebrations on December 31. While many stews use chicken, pork or beef, having vegetarian options for non-meat eaters goes a long way.

Pork lovers will enjoy Posole Con Puerco (Pork Hominy Mexican Stews) which makes for a great meal. Another long-time pork favorite is Hoppin’ John which is a traditional recipe that seems to have originated from the South.

Collard greens are a popular side dish and can be prepared a number of ways. Check out celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse’s recipe for collard greens and mustard or or add some pork to the mix with pork-stuffed collard greens.

Black-eyed peas can be made easily if you’ve got a slow cooker at your disposal. These spicy peas sound like they have plenty of zip and taste divine. Or you can add pork and rice to your black-eyed peas and have enough food to serve as a main meal.

Hot chocolate is a satisfying way to finish off a Kwanzaa celebration meal. Try a frothy hot chocolate or go another route with a chai chocolate pots de crème.

You can’t go wrong with spiced pumpkin cookies as a tasty dessert option. And if you really want to have a delectable dessert, go with bananas in brown sugar-rum sauce.

 

Best drinks and cocktails for New Year’s Eve party

Ah, the holidays. You just wrapped up a week of family food, football and … now it’s time for New Year’s Eve! Alcohol! Booze! Champagne! Toasts! You can have a perfectly pleasant New Year’s Eve without alcohol, but popular tradition in the U.S. is to toast and throw back a drink when the clock strikes midnight.

Champagne – The classic drink of choice for New Year’s Eve is to pop the cork on a bottle of bubbly. For a twist, drop in a raspberry and top it off with raspberry liqueur.

Midnight martini – If you love coffee and plan on celebrating way into the night, the Midnight Martini might be the drink to keep you going. Coffee vodka and liqueur with a twist of lemon.

Midori Melon Ball Drop – If you’re in a wintry part of the world, you can think tropical with this cocktail. Midori Leon Liqueur, SKYY Infusions Citrus, Elderflower Liquor and lemon juice. Delightful!

Brandy Eggnog – For this holiday cocktail, you’ll need some brandy and all the fixings for Eggnog and a shaker to prepare.

Martinelli’s Sparkling Apple Juice (N/A) – Have some non-alcoholic sparkling juice on hand for those guests who are designated drivers on New Year’s Eve.

Red Bull and vodka – Combining alcohol and overly caffeinated drinks isn’t recommended because it can mask the influence of alcohol and cause people to misjudge their level of intoxication.

Wine – If you’re out at a bar on New Year’s Eve, you may need some help selecting the right bottle of vino to help you celebrate. If that’s the case, check out these tips on picking the right wine. Otherwise, stick with what you know and love.

Sparkling wine – Celebrate New Year’s Eve with bubbles. If you’re not the champagne type, try ringing in the New Year with a glass of sparkling wine. Yellowtail makes an affordable sparkling white wine that is both fun and flavorful.

Hot Cider – Hot cider is a great New Year’s drink, especially if you’re celebrating in a cold cabin somewhere. Admittedly, the likelihood of that scenario is slim, but if it happens to ring true to you, be sure to put a nip of something in your cider when the ball drops.

Water – If you’ve been drinking all night on New Year’s Eve, at some point you’re going to want to migrate over to water to start rehydrating yourself. Hate to be party poopers, but your body will thank you the day after.