LIFE

11 Fun And Fascinating New Year’s Eve Traditions From Around The World

by Phil Mutz
Phil is an Editor at LittleThings. He loves writing and the outdoors. You can often find him at the movies or the park.

Every New Year’s Eve brings a chance to celebrate the close of a wonderful year and the beginning of a new chapter.

And while millions of people around the world take part in celebrations, the way in which we celebrate can be very personal, and – at times – extremely unique.

Just as there are strange and bizarre ways that people celebrate Christmas – like with Santa’s not-so-nice counterpart, Krampus – there are also some really creative ways that people ring in the New Year.

Scroll through this exclusive list of crazy New Year’s Eve traditions below. While we’ve all heard of the ball dropping in Times Square, I definitely hadn’t heard of any of these.

I had no idea that people in one country like to sleep in cemeteries for the New Year celebration. And I certainly had never heard about the American town that lowers a live animal inside of their New Year’s Eve ball!

Which of these unique ideas do you like best? How does your town or city ring in the New Year? Let us know in the comments!

Ecuador

ways to ring in new years around the world
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According to Atlas Obscura, “In Ecuador, at the stroke of midnight, people around the country bring effigies of politicians, pop culture figures, and other icons of the year to torch in the streets.”

Setting these dummies on fire is their way of clearing away the negativity from the previous year, and setting up a clean slate for the year to come.

Ecuadorians have burned the likenesses of everyone from Spongebob Squarepants to leading political figures.

Spain

ways to ring in new years around the world
Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

According to NPR, “The entire country gathers in front of television screens or in town squares, clutching a bowl of small green grapes and wearing red underwear.”

While the bells of Madrid’s Real Casa de Correos toll 12 times, Spaniards try to chew and swallow as many grapes as they can – up to 12 – before the end of the ringing. Anyone who is able to finish all 12 grapes will supposedly have good luck in the coming year.

And as if that might not be unique enough, people in Spain are supposed to do this all while wearing red underwear!

Switzerland

ways to ring in new years around the world
Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

According to United Planet, “To ensure a year that will be filled with luck, peace, and wealth, the Swiss drop a scoop of ice cream on the floor.”

Children and adults alike take part in this ritual on New Year’s Eve, which is supposed to bring good fortune and great abundance in the coming year.

Japan

ways to ring in new years around the world
Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

According to Japan Monthly Web Magazine, “As midnight nears, the air is filled with the deep sound of temple bells being rung. The bells are rung 108 times as the old year fades out and the new year comes in.”

These 108 rings are said to symbolize the 108 different human sins that are part of the Buddhist belief system. The bells are supposed to erase the sins of the previous year.

Each bell rings 107 times leading up to midnight, and once after midnight.

Denmark

ways to ring in new years around the world
Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

According to MarthaStewart.com, “Many Danish people celebrate the New Year by jumping off chairs at the stroke of midnight… They also traditionally throw plates at neighbors’ doors to symbolize their friendship.”

Jumping off of chairs is the Danish way of clearing the air and bringing good luck in the year to come.

Breaking plates is about an abundance of friends. “The person with the most broken plates is said to have the most friends.”

Estonia

ways to ring in new years around the world
Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

According to HolidaysCelebration.com, “Number 7, 9 and 12 are the lucky numbers of the Estonians. There goes a belief that people should eat 7, 9 or even 12 times on the New Year day.”

This tradition is said to “ensure abundant food in the coming year.”

A person who is able to eat seven meals that day is said to go into the new year with “the strength of seven men.”

Chile

ways to ring in new years around the world
Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

According to Crave, “In the small town of Talca, Chile, locals celebrate the dawning of the New Year by sleeping in a graveyard, surrounded by their deceased loved ones.”

This tradition is on the newer side, as it has only been going on since 1995. However, it has grown enormously in popularity with over 5,000 people taking part each year.

Philippines

ways to ring in new years around the world
Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

According to Tagaloglang.com, “Part of the fun in getting ready for New Year’s Eve is to come up with 12 round fruits, each to signify a month of the year.”

Other New Year’s Eve traditions involve round symbols and objects as well.

“Filipinos try to dress in polka-dots because the roundness signifies prosperity. Pockets are filled with round coins, which are jangled to attract wealth.”

Virginia, USA

ways to ring in new years around the world
Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

MapMuse.com writes that on New Year’s Eve you can “watch the Fredericksburg Pear drop down over Caroline Street.”

The pear is a large, illuminated piece of fruit that is lowered annually to ring in the New Year in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

This “Pear Drop” is not to be confused with the lowering of a strawberry in Harrisburg, PA,  a sausage in Elmore, OH, or a ruby slipper in Key West, FL!

North Carolina, USA

ways to ring in new years around the world
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Continuing with America’s tradition of “dropping objects” for the New Year, this unique tradition takes place each year in Brasstown, North Carolina.

According to Saba Hamedy of the LA Times, “It starts with capturing a possum. Next, on New Year’s Eve, a possum is slowly lowered in a plastic cage, as spectators watch and count down the seconds to midnight. Then the possum is set free.”

In addition to the Possum Drop, there is also an annual Miss Possum contest.

Georgia, USA

ways to ring in new years around the world
Maya Borenstein for LittleThings

According to PeachDrop.com, “Peach Drop, the largest New Year’s Eve celebration in the Southeast, is a 16-hour event… The 800-pound peach will begin its decent just before the clock strikes midnight.”

The peach has long been a symbol of Georgia’s pride and history. The giant peach is made of fiberglass and foam, and has been dropping each year in Atlanta since 1989.

These incredible New Year’s Eve traditions truly do run the gamut from fun and festive, to absolutely bizarre.

What does your town or city do to ring in the New Year? Let us know in the comments.

Please SHARE with friends and family who love New Year’s Eve!