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Top 10 Strangest and Most Interesting New Year’s Traditions

VO: JG

Script written by Q.V. Hough

These might make you re-think how you celebrate the New Year. From eating 12 grapes, to burning scarecrows, to wearing colored underwear, these are some mighty unique ways to ring in the New Year. WatchMojo counts down ten strangest and most interesting New Year’s traditions.

Special thanks to our user boxtroll for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at: http://WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Strangest+New+Years+Traditions.

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Script written by Q.V. Hough

Top 10 Strangest and Most Interesting New Year’s Traditions


These might make you re-think how you celebrate the new year. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Strangest and Most Interesting New Year’s Traditions.

For this list, we counting down cultural New Year’s traditions that you may not be familiar with.

#10: Eating 12 Grapes


In 1909, Spain officially began a juicy New Year’s custom. Originally popularized by vine growers looking to make some extra profits, it involves consuming 12 grapes at midnight, with each grape coinciding with the ring of the Puerta del Sol tower bell. Known as “the twelve grapes of luck”, the tasty tradition is meant to bring you good luck and good health in the coming year. The eating of the grapes has become so popular that it’s even transcended its Spanish roots, and is now also practiced in the Philippines the United States. Grapes are basically just wine waiting to happen, after all.


#9: Baking Coins into Bread


While this tradition takes place all over the world, it’s mostly associated with Greece. On January 1st, the Greeks slice a cake known as Vasilopita, which contains a coin that is supposed to bless their home for the New Year, and bring good luck to the coin’s recipient. This tradition is derived from the legend of Basil of Caesarea, who gathered money from town locals to pay off the army that was besieging their city. The plan worked, and the army was so embarrassed that they left without the cash. Basil then baked the change into loaves of bread, and everybody got their coin back, creating a tradition that’s tasty and lucrative!


#8: Burning Effigies and Scarecrows


Back in 1895, a yellow fever epidemic took a toll on the Ecuadorian town of Guayaquil. In response, the locals burned coffins filled with the clothes of the infected, hoping to rid themselves of disease and purify the town in the process. Today, the burning is more about fun than purification. Some people burn effigies of specific figures – including politicians, sports stars, and even super heroes – while others try to leap over the flames 12 times, with each jump symbolizing another month left in the past. However, if you’re into this tradition, beware of too much smoke inhalation, as that most definitely won’t bring you good luck.


#7: Wearing Colored Underwear


When you’re getting dressed for New Year’s Eve, it’s important to color coordinate for the event. This tradition is trendy in Latin America, as both men and women choose specific colors for specific results. Red underwear signifies passion, while yellow panties are supposed to bring good luck. There are many options, so think it through and find the panties that best suit your needs for the New Year. Just make sure you don’t eat or drink too much New Year’s Eve, or your underpants might experience an unexpected color change.


#6: Dropping Ice Cream on the Floor


On New Year’s Eve in Switzerland, everyone has a free pass to dirty up the kitchen. Like many traditions, dropping ice cream is done for good luck, and it typically involves just one scoop. For ice cream purists, this could be viewed as a downright unacceptable waste of delicious desert, but for the Swiss, it’s an act of pure joy. Apparently, Mother Earth likes ice cream as much as the next person, and is willing to reward those who feed her with a year full of luck and success. Let the ice cream hit the floor.


#5: Jumping Over Seven Waves


Brazilians are no strangers to partying on New Year’s Eve. But for those who want to please the Gods – specifically Yemanjá, the Goddess of the Sea – they head to the beach to pay their proper respects. This involves throwing offerings into the water to let them be carried away by the ocean, followed by jumping over seven waves, and making a wish after each one. What better way to start off the New Year than getting in touch with nature? Plus, seven wishes are better than one.


#4: Dancing in Bear Furs


Be prepared to “bear” witness to one of the fuzziest ways of ringing in the New Year. Known as Ursul, this tradition takes place between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, as people don real bear furs to ward off evil spirits. The faux-bears then play dead before getting up again, to signify the impending resurrection brought on by Spring. As fun to watch as it is to take part in, this tradition has the added benefit or providing the participants with extra warmth during one of the coldest times of the year.


#3: Throwing Household Items Out the Window


Looking to unburden yourself of useless material possessions? Then this cathartic – and slightly dangerous – New Year’s tradition is for you. In Italy, people are known for tossing unwanted items out their window on December 31st, as a way of ushering out the old to make way for the new. It’s a lot of fun for all involved, assuming there’s nobody walking by below. Traditions evolve over time, of course, and as years have gone by, the size and weight of the thrown objects has increased, but that hasn’t stopped people from chucking them onto the street anyway. The tradition has even spread to South Africa, to the dismay of South African authorities.


#2: Lowering of the Opossum


We’re not too sure Dick Clark would approve of this one…In the American southeast, there are New Year’s celebrations in which a marsupial is the star of the show. At North Carolina’s Brasstown Drop, a possum is suspended and lowered throughout New Year’s Eve, as a “unique” alternative to NYC’s famous Times Square ball drop. Oh, and there’s also a competition for the title of “Possum Queen.” Do they do THAT in New York City? Didn’t think so. While this tradition isn’t for everybody, it’s definitely in a league of its own when it comes to strange New Year’s celebrations.


Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.


Making Noise to Ward Off Evil Spirits


Wishing Cows a Happy New Year


Hitting Walls with Bread


#1: Fireballs


Goodness, gracious. In Scotland, the celebration known as “Hogmanay” is less of a tradition and more of a cultural event. One part of the celebration, at least in the town of Stonehaven, involves constructing wire fireballs that are swung throughout the streets. Like any big-time festival, there’s also music and lots of activities, but they’re kind of hard to notice when people are running through the streets literally swinging balls of flame. When the clock strikes midnight, Hogmanay continues on into the night, until the remaining fires are thrown into the harbor to be extinguished.
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