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Strange New Year's Eve traditions around the globe

PHUKET: How will you be welcoming in the New Year? Perhaps you’ll be drinking, watching fireworks or even snogging a stranger come the stroke of midnight. Perhaps you’re party-goer? Or are you one of those who opts to quietly say a few words and be happy to put the old year out of its misery?

By Matt Pond

Thursday 31 December 2015, 08:00AM

Whichever way you choose to celebrate New Year, for all it is a time for fresh starts, hopes and dreams and saying goodbye to the old year in a suitably, celebratory fashion. Around the world people come together as families, friends and communities to mark the beginning of a brand new year with food, drink, fireworks, ancient rituals and religious customs.

When it comes to celebrating the New Year it seems that everyone has their own peculiar way of doing things. Some people throw bread, others burn scarecrows, and still others fist fight for good luck. Here, The Phuket News has compiled a list of 10 of the strangest New Year’s traditions from around the world.


Grape eating in Spain

In Spain, eating twelve grapes is said to bring good luck. One grape should be eaten at every strike of the bell leading up to midnight. It is believed that each grape will lead to prosperity for each month of the year.

The Spanish are very passionate about eating their 12 grapes leading up to midnight; in fact, it is as serious a superstition as it is a fun tradition.


Bear dancing in Romania

In Romania there are a number of famous mask dances. However, the most famous of them all is the annual bear dance. The bear dance involves men in bear skins dancing to the music of drums and pipes, a ritual said to ward off any evil spirits. It is believed that during the dance the bear dies and is reborn, symbolic of death and rebirth, as a New Year replaces the old one.


Find a husband in Ireland using mistletoe

A number of Ireland’s single women wait desperately for the New Year’s night. Why? Because they believe it is the one special night that will bring them the love of their life. These women place mistletoe leaves under their pillow in the hope of catching their future husband. In addition, in Irish culture it is believed that by doing so it will get rid of bad luck.


Go diving with trees in Serbia

This is no ordinary type of diving, and to say it’s a little bit crazy is an understatement. Serbians believe that by diving in freezing cold icy water along with a Christmas tree, it will either ward off evil spirits or bring good luck. It appears even the Serbs don’t know the true reason they do it.


Have a graveyard party in Chile


As the time draws closer to midnight, in Chile the party moves from indoors to out. In fact, it moves to the nearest graveyard. And it is here that the locals gather to celebrate welcoming in the New Year with their deceased family and friends. It is important to Chileans that they are not left out of the celebrations.


A guaranteed snog in Venice

If you’re looking for a snog at New Year then there’s no better place to be than St Mark’s Square in Venice. As the clock strikes 12 you can rest assured that you won’t be left kiss-less at the world’s largest communal kiss . You can actually take a person that you’d like to kiss, but if you don’t the likelihood is you’ll find someone.


Burn a scarecrow in Ecuador

In Ecuador New Year is celebrated at the stroke of midnight with the burning of pre-made scarecrows. The scarecrows are dressed up and filled with paper and wood. As the countdown to midnight begins, families gather outside their homes and burn their scarecrow. It is believed that this unique tradition will destroy all bad things that happened in the previous 12 months.

For a bit of extra luck, if you jump across the burning scarecrow twelve times, it will bring you luck for each of the coming 12 months.


Put on your most colourful underwear in Bolivia, Brazil and Mexico

There are some residents in Bolivia, Brazil and Mexico who must wear their most colourful underwear to welcome in the New Year. Red and yellow are the most popular choice when it comes to New Year’s Eve as these colours are believed to bring good luck for the coming year. It is also believed that it helps those wearing them, and are in need of one, find a loving mate. Red means an amorous love life ahead and yellow expresses the desire to gain money and wealth. The wishes of the locals are expressed via their underwear.


Expel your sins in Japan

At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve all across Japan, Buddhist temples ring their bells 108 times. The ringing of the bells symbolises the 108 human sins according to Buddhist beliefs. By ringing the bells it is believed that all sins of the past year will be ridden of. In addition, if you eat long Japanese noodles after ringing the bells it will bring you long life. Or so they believe.


Throw your furniture out the window in South Africa

Imagine being hit by a piece of flying furniture as you walk past someone’s house as New Year approaches. Well this is what could happen as you pass someone’s house as the chimes lead to midnight in South Africa. The reason being that it is believed that by throwing out the old furniture you are throwing out all bad things from the past year.



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