Weird and Unusual New Year’s Eve Customs From Around The World

By SME Insurance

Posted 29/12/17

Whether you’re planning to go out for New Year’s Eve, settle down in front of the TV to watch Jool’s Hollands Hootenanny or hold a party, it always feels like you need to have done something of note to tell everyone about when they inevitably ask about it on the 2nd. If you really want to have something to talk about why not try one of these more unusual New Year’s Eve traditions from around the world?

Speed Eating Grapes

The Spanish add a little complication to their countdown to the New Year with their tradition of eating 12 grapes, one in time to each strike of the countdown. The 12 grapes represent the months of the year and are said to secure success in the upcoming year. Although the origin of the tradition is unknown, it was popularised by a group of vine growers in the early 1900s, when they needed a way to sell more grapes after a particularly good harvest [1].  A fantastic idea for any shop owners or entrepreneurs with excess stock, why not turn your product into a popular tradition!

A Smashing Time

We tend to associate plate smashing with clumsy people and Greek weddings (may need a reference), but in Denmark it’s part of the New Year’s Eve celebrations. The Danish collect chipped and unwanted crockery throughout the year to smash on the doors of their friends and neighbours on the night of the 31st December. This may seem like an overly aggressive way to get your neighbours back for being noisy or using your bins, but a big pile of broken plates on your doorstep at midnight is actually a sign of popularity [2]!  However, even you’re a restaurant owner with clumsy staff and an excess of smashed plates, we are not sure we would recommend this one without first agreeing it with friends!

Get Packing

If you suffer from wanderlust this next tradition might make sense to you. In Colombia one of the many traditions associated with New Year’s Eve is to take a suitcase out at midnight and walk it around their neighbourhood. Apparently this will guarantee you lots of travel in the upcoming year, so maybe give it a go if you’re eyeing up a big holiday for 2018 [3]!

Fortune Telling in Finland

In Finland, alongside the fireworks and frivolities, the New Year is traditionally a time of fortune telling and predicting the future. One popular method for predicting the upcoming New Year is with molten tin. Participants are given a small tin horseshoe, which signifies good luck, which they melt in a pan and throw into a bucket of cold water. As the tin solidifies the shape it develops in to is interpreted as a prediction of their future health, wealth or happiness [4].

Bearing Up in Romania

One of the more unusual New Year’s Eve traditions in Romania is for people to dress up in bear skins and parade around town to ward off bad spirits.  This festival, known as Ursul (meaning “the bear dance”) is held all over Romania. Part of the ceremony involves the “bears” rolling around on the floor and pretending to die, which symbolises prosperity in the upcoming Spring [5] [6].

Sources

[1] http://www.sunsetbeachclub.com/blog/winter-in-spain/the-12-lucky-grapes-a-new-years-eve-tradition-in-spain/

[2] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/new-year-2014-smash-a-plate-drink-a-wish-eat-a-grape-how-did-the-rest-of-the-world-see-in-2014-9032137.html

[3] http://www.uncovercolombia.com/en/item/colombian-new-year-traditions

[5] http://metro.co.uk/2015/12/31/hands-down-the-weirdest-new-years-tradition-5593483/   

[6] https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/ring-new-year-dressing-up-bear-180957695/

Posted 29/12/17

Author: SME Insurance

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