Unusual New Year’s traditions around the World

For many Australians, New Year’s Eve is all about getting together, eating great food, having a few cocktails and finding the best fireworks-viewing position! But at these other destinations around the world, things aren’t always so New Year ordinary…

Netherlands: Carbide Shooting

Every New Year’s Eve, carbide shooting takes place when local farmers in the Netherlands fill their old milk containers with water and calcium carbide, line them up and, after a heating process, watch them explode. Apparently, the effect is very loud and noisy – and the lids of the cans often go shooting across the fields or high into the air. Nothing like a good explosion and a flying tin lid to welcome the New Year!

Denmark: Neighbourly Plate Breaking

As the saying goes, if you love someone – why not throw a plate at their door? This New Year’s tradition in Denmark sees many neighbours throwing plates, dishes and other breakable crockery at each other’s front doors. Whoever has the most mess at the end is thought to be the one with the most friends! They also, though, have to do the most cleaning up…

Brazil: Colourful Under-Wearing

In the city of San Paulo and in other destinations in South America and Spain, traditions dictate that colourful undies are the best way to ring in the New Year! Selecting the right colour will mean different things for the coming year – red for love or luck, yellow for prosperity – so choosing correctly is a must!

Thailand: Water Fighting

It does get extremely hot and humid in Thailand, perhaps so much so that a good water fight on New Year’s (which occurs there in mid-April) is the only way to celebrate! This ‘Songkran’ tradition started as a traditional washing of local Buddha statues, but has now become more of an every-man-for-himself water fight loaded with water pistols, super soakers and water balloons. If you happen to be in Thailand during this time, partaking in the water festival guarantees lots of fun and a great cultural experience.

Spain: Fast Grape Eating

How many grapes can you eat in 12 seconds? In Spain, as soon as the clock starts chiming in the New Year, you are generally expected to start piling grapes in your mouth in order to bring good luck upon yourself! The trick is to either eat one grape for every bell chime or shove as many grapes into your mouth as possible – as long as they’re all eaten by the time the New Year has arrived, you can expect a “fruitful” year ahead.

Maine, USA: Sardine Dropping

You wouldn’t normally associate sardines with the New Year, but in the island town of Eastport, Maine, sardines mean everything. In this tradition, an 8-foot sardine is lowered out of a window to ring in the New Year and locals then flock to kiss it, take a photo with it and sing Auld Lang Syne. These New Year dropping/lowering sensations are popular all over the USA, with many started as an attempt to replicate the lowering of the New York crystal ball in Times Square. Other things that are ‘dropped’ include possums, pineapples, moonpies and pinecones!

Places: USA, Spain, Thailand, Brazil