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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.