Weird and Wonderful New Year’s Traditions

20 December 2019

Weird and Wonderful New Year’s Traditions From Around the World

With millions of people getting ready to celebrate the dawn of 2020 in the next couple of weeks, we couldn’t help but think about how people across the world are going to be welcoming the New Year. Here in South Africa we’re used to ringing in the New Year with a drink in hand and maybe a few fireworks, but there are some celebrations around the globe that take the cake for weird, wonderful, and wacky ways to say hello to another trip around the sun. From paper snow to flaming balls of fire, here are some of the more unusual ways to welcome in a brand new year.


Paper Shredding in Argentina

If there’s one way to guarantee a white festive season, it’s by visiting Argentina over the New Year’s period. A big part of the celebrations in this South American country involves shredding papers and documents on 31st of December. This is to symbolise leaving the past behind. They then throw the paper confetti from their windows across the country; creating a somewhat unusual “winter wonderland” landscape. Still, if you want all the magic of snow with none of the cold, Argentina is the place to be!


Breaking Plates in Denmark

If you wake up to a pile of broken plates outside your door in Denmark on New Year’s Day, you can count your blessings. Plates are kept throughout the year and on New Year’s Eve, are thrown against the front doors of friends and neighbours – if there’s loads on your door, then you obviously have plenty of friends! The broken ceramics are also said to bring good luck, so you’ll have a fortunate year ahead, even if it begins with a big clear up of your front door! The Danes also have a tradition of leaping off chairs on New Year’s Eve as the clock strikes 12 to symbolise jumping into the New Year.


108 Bells in Japan

A countdown of ten or bells ringing for a count of 12 may seem like a lot, but Japan rings a mind-boggling 108 bells at the turn of the year. This comes from a Buddhist belief that there are 108 worldly desires that we are tempted by on Earth. Ringing the bells a total of 108 times on December 31st is believed to wash away the sins of the previous year so that we will be purified for the start of a New Year. It’s a festive and enjoyable experience, and an unusual way to literally “ring” in the New Year.




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Great Balls of Fire in Scotland

Scotland’s New Year’s Eve celebrations are famous the world over, with millions of us belting out a chorus of Auld Lang Syne when the clock strikes twelve. New Year’s Eve - or Hogmanay, as it’s known in Scotland – can be a wild ride. Stonehaven in Adberdeenshire takes it to a new level. The spectators count down to the New Year and with plenty of clapping and cheering, the Stonehaven Fireball Swingers watching crowd counts down the last few seconds before the new year and, then to the accompaniment of wild cheering, the Stonehaven Fireball Swingers set fire to long-handled balls and raise them in the air, swinging them around and walking the streets. It’s quite a spectacle!



So with 2020 on the horizon, will you be changing your standard New Year’s Eve tradition to something a little more weird and wonderful?