In the United States we have plenty of traditions to help us celebrate the New Year — most of which you’ve probably heard about, if not observed before. The ball drop in Times Square. A kiss at midnight. A champagne toast. Fireworks. That said, there are many more New Year’s traditions being observed outside the U.S.
Make your own New Year’s traditions with a kid-friendly New Year’s Eve party!
Countries across the globe have their own unique customs to celebrate the arrival of January 1st. Just before we usher in 2016, take a look at these interesting worldwide observances (and maybe try a few yourself)!
Does your family have a unique New Year’s tradition? We want to know! Share it with us in the comments below.
1. Red underwear
Countries that celebrate: Italy, Spain, Turkey, Argentina
You might have to hit Victoria’s Secret if you want to observe this tradition. As the legend goes, wearing red underwear to ring in the New Year will lead to love and prosperity for the next 12 months.
2. Bear costumes
Country that celebrates: Romania
People in Romania suit up to hail another January 1st — but not for playing football like we see in the U.S. Instead they wear bear costumes, which are said to ward off evil in the coming year.
3. Suitcase walking
Countries that celebrate: Ecuador, Colombia
Want to travel? Some South Americans have the answer. According to tradition, walking an empty suitcase around the block is their way to ensure a travel-filled new year. The faster you go, the more you travel.
4. 12 grapes
Country that celebrates: Spain
At midnight, many Spaniards will have grapes ready. As an old tradition goes, popping 12 grapes in time with each strike of the clock during the New Year’s Eve countdown will bring a fortuitous 2016. Easy to observe, hard to pull off!
5. Underwater trees
Country that celebrates: Siberia
In honor of the New Year, deep-sea divers in Siberia cut a hole in the ice of Lake Baikal, swim to the bottom and plant a tree. Although interesting and cool, don’t try this one yourself — only professionals observe this custom.
6. Freezing swims
Photo by Stephen Finn
Countries that celebrate: UK (Wales, Scotland)
What’s the best way to wake yourself up after a long night of partying on New Year’s Eve? A cold-water swim, which thousands observe in the icy ocean waters on January 1 in the UK.
7. Bread banging
Country that celebrates: Ireland
The Irish have a strange-yet-fun little tradition for when the bell tolls at midnight — although unobservant neighbors might not be fans. Legend says to simply bang loaves of bread loudly against the wall to rid the home of bad luck and spirits in the coming year. Fascinating, right?
8. Special champagne toast
Country that celebrates: Russia
Russia takes their midnight champagne toasts up a notch with this tradition. The custom? Write a New Year’s wish on a piece of paper, burn it, toss the remnants in your champagne flute, and drink it — all before 12:01 a.m. on January 1.