Unique NYE Traditions From Around The World

From choosing a specific undergarment color to dropping a 400-pound candy chick, the world rings in NYE with some, er, festive traditions.

New Year’s Eve looks different around the world, especially once cultural traditions, personal customs, and time differences are factored in. While the most well-known tradition in the US is to watch the ball drop in Times Square at midnight, other countries have more unique – and interesting – ways to countdown the last 24 hours of the previous year.

Among the celebrating and sighs of relief that comes with a new chance to start over, theoretically, and celebrate another rotation around the sun, many countries have come up with quirky ways to make the transition from one year to another. From purchasing undergarments that are vividly-colored to burning anything that represents that which they refuse to bring into the next year, sometimes it’s about an energy and other times… well, less than that.

Here’s what New Year’s Eve looks like according to the strangest traditions around the globe.

Chile: Half The Guests Have Already Lived Their Lives

The residents of Chile, particularly in Talca, participate in a tradition that caught on fairly well after one family was witnessed doing it. As the clock struck midnight, a family hopped the fence of a cemetery to wish their late father a happy new year, only for it to catch on like wildfire and, suddenly, everyone was wishing their long-gone relatives the same.

via Shutterstock

Only now, the party has grown even larger; groups of people show up to their town’s cemeteries, bottles of champagne, and party snacks in hand, to celebrate the incoming year with their departed loved ones.

Ecuador: Taking Burn Books To The Extreme

In Ecuador, burning effigies from the past year is the go-to New Year’s Eve tradition for most people. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a celebrity or a politician, anyone with an association of the previous year gets turned into an effigy and burned as a symbol of leaving the past in the past, quite literally.

Related: Wedding Traditions Around The World: Here’s How Each Country Differs

The tradition doesn’t stop there, however, as local men also dress in drag in order to portray the widows of the said effigies, and go around begging for money in the streets. It’s quite an interesting time albeit a rather strange one.

Colombia: An Empty Suitcase For Good Luck

Colombia takes its wanderlust very seriously and one of their traditions even honors the idea of travel. In their own homes, some people will walk or jog around their homes or stairs with an empty suitcase in the hopes of symbolizing all of the travels they’ll have in the following year.

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Doing this is said to be a sign of good luck and will hopefully bring forth new adventures in which they can use the suitcase that’s empty now, but hopefully won’t be later on.

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: Mistaking New Year’s Eve For Easter

Not overly far from New York City is Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. While most people in the country watch the ball drop in Times Square along with the countdown until midnight, Bethlehem has its own version of dropping something to ring in the new year.

via Travel + Leisure

Rather than a giant ball that’s decked out in Waterford Crystal, this town prefers to drop a 400-pound Peep… That’s right, exactly like the Easter candy.

Germany: If The Lead Brick Says It’s So

Germany is known for several traditions that some would find strange but this country’s New Year’s Eve tradition is definitely out of the box… Quite literally, we should say. Called bleigiessen, otherwise known as lead-pouring, is done in order to provide some insight into what lies in the year ahead.

via Shutterstock

Hot lead is poured into a vat of cold water and the symbol that’s formed is meant to be indicative of what one can expect in the following year. Some shapes are obvious such as a heart for love or a star for happiness, but a cross means death is in the future.

Latin America: The Underwear Color Dictates The Year Ahead

Surprisingly, this is a tradition that many Latin American countries partake in. Supposedly, the color of the underwear a person has on during the new year is indicative of the type of luck they can expect to receive once the clock passes midnight.

Related: The Truth Behind The Legend Of Krampus, Austria’s Creepiest Holiday Tradition

Colors such as yellow can indicate success while red is synonymous with love, so it’s almost like a ‘choose your own story’ book but with undergarments instead.

Romania: Conversations With The Local Farm Animals

It’s unclear quite how this tradition started and while that remains to be seen, the tradition of speaking to one’s farm animals continues to be a popular way to start off the new year.

via Shutterstock

While others are popping bottles and toasting, in parts of Romania, some people are in the field speaking to their animals and attempting to get them to speak back – supposedly, if the animal does utter some type of speech, it will be a prosperous year for the farm. If it doesn’t, well, we all saw how Animal Farm ended.

Naples, Italy: Throw It All Out The Window, Literally

Naples is a great place to visit and full of things to do, especially on New Year’s Eve when its residents are throwing kitchen appliances out of the windows. While there’s a bit more care taken nowadays to avoid crushing any potential people below, the saying ‘out with the old, in with the new’ actually rings true in this city.

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About The Author


Katie Machado
(956 Articles Published)

Originally from New York, Katie is used to a fast-paced lifestyle. She got her personal start with writing in the second grade, and carried that passion with her until she won a spot in her high school’s published poetry book – but not before becoming the News Editor and columnist for the high school newspaper.

In college, she majored in English Literature with an emphasis in Political Science, soaking up most creativity and method from one of the last professors to study under famed beat poet Allen Ginsberg. The more she wrote, the more she learned about the world and, more importantly, herself.

She has been writing professionally and has been published since the age of 19, and for nearly a decade has covered topics in entertainment, lifestyle, music news, video game reviews, food culture, and now has the privilege of writing and editing for TheTravel.

Katie has a firm belief that every word penned is a journey into yourself and your own thoughts, and through understanding this, people can begin to understand each other. Through her voice, she brings personality, research, and a bit of friendly sarcasm to every piece she writes and edits.

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