10 New Year’s traditions from around the world


Photo by Meaaloha McCabe

New Year’s is celebrated with many different traditions from all around the world.

By Meaaloha McCabe, staff writer

New Year’s is a universal holiday that is celebrated by billions of people all around the world. With such a momentous holiday, traditions are bound to form throughout the years. Midnight kisses are traditional in American culture, but for those in Ecuador, burning scarecrows is a way to welcome the new year. Here are 10 crazy New Year’s traditions from all around the world.

  1. Ecuador: To fire up the new year and burn away the past, sculptures of scarecrows are made to be set on fire. The scarecrows are made up of sawdust and newspaper that are stuffed into clothing until it looks like a friend or a family member to symbolize luck and prosperity. But if the scarecrow looks like a person who the creator dislikes, it is used to literally burn away the past.  Some scarecrows are even formed to look like a familiar celebrity. Families create their own figures, and the streets are bright with burning sculptures when the clock strikes midnight.
  2. Denmark: Moms alway say to be gentle with the dishes, but in Denmark, New Year’s is the time when that rule does not apply. Over in Denmark, finding a large pile of broken dishes on your porch is a sign that you have many friends who want to wish you good luck for the upcoming year. Throughout the year, families save their old dishes or purchase special dishes from ceramics manufacturers before New Year’s just for the purpose of wishing friends and neighbors good luck.
  3. Spain: In the last 12 seconds before the new year, one grape is eaten per second to get good luck for the upcoming year. The 12 grapes represent each month of the new year, and if all the grapes are eaten at the exact chime of a clock, the eater will have good luck in the new year. Those who practice this tradition need to be cautious not to accidentally choke on a grape and start off the new year in the hospital!
  4. Switzerland: In New York City, many wait for the ball to drop, but in Switzerland there is no better way to start the new year than to drop some ice cream. When ice cream is plopped onto the floor, this symbolizes good luck. There are also occasional ice cream fights too.
  5. Bolivia: When eating cake in Bolivia during New Year’s, be cautious when chewing and swallowing. During New Year’s, cakes are baked with coins inside them. When the cake is cut and served, whoever has the piece with the coin inside will get good luck in the upcoming year.
  6. Belarus: Normally at weddings a bouquet is thrown and whoever catches it will be the next to get married, but things are a little different in Belarus. On New Year’s, single women gather corn into piles and place them in front of themselves. A chicken is then released and whoever the chicken comes to first will be the next to get married.
  7.  Colombia: For those who are stuck in the mud and just can’t get out to travel, run around inside your house with a suitcase on New Year’s Eve like the Colombians do. This is said to help you to get some traveling time during the new year. Read about more Colombian new year’s traditions by clicking here.
  8.  Thailand: Buckets are filled, water guns are loaded, and water hoses are at the ready to shoot those near or just passing by. Being splashed with water came from a ritual during which Buddha statues would get cleaned with “blessed” water. This is a way to show respect and to also bring good luck for the new year.
  9.  Chile: Cemeteries are normally vacant in America, but Chileans spend their New Year’s partying with deceased family members. Families go there to reconnect with loved ones. This is a way for everyone in the family, living and dead, to be together to start the new year.
  10. Ireland: Bread is good for birds but even better to chase away evil spirits. In Ireland, bread is thrown at doors and walls to chase away evil spirits and to get rid of bad luck. The bread that was thrown outside would be left there for birds to eat. If birds eat the bread, it show that the request for getting rid of bad spirits has been accepted.