Happy New year y’all! And how did you bring in the New Year? A night out on the town? A fireworks display? Or a cosy night in observing all the action through your telly?

We know how us brits tend to celebrate the New Year, but what about the other 6 billion people on our little space rock? What unusual New Year celebrations around the world are there?

From Romanian bear antics to some unusual South American traditions, we’re going on a whistle-stop tour of New Year around the world, to see how different countries and cultures mark their own fresh start.

The Danes smash it

It’s usually the Greeks who like to break a plate, but there is a less well known tradition in Denmark. If you hear a hullabaloo on 31st December and find some broken tableware on your doorstep, don’t be cross. Someone’s wished you good luck for the year!

Banish-bad-luck bears

Bears have a special place in Romanian culture, and it’s these big brown brutes that are trusted to ward off evil at the turn of the year. In the spirit of animal welfare, it’s the locals who dress up as bears instead, though whether that fools the demons is anyone’s guess. Bare fun though, as the youth would say.

Fortuitous foodies

They say the path to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but apparently it’s the path to prosperity too. In Spain, tradition dictates you eat one grape for each bong of the midnight clock on New Year’s Eve, the so-called 12 Grapes of Luck (and also the next Indiana Jones movie title). In Brazil, lentils are the fortune-giving food of choice. I’m with you, Spain.

The suitcase walk

At the stroke of midnight in Latin America, some hopeful adventurers dig out their suitcases and walk them round the block. Empty. Apparently this is supposed to bring good luck on your travels, and by jove we need it. Back in a sec, I’m just gonna give my Samsonite a spin.

Ecuador truly toasts the auld

Lest the worst bits of 2020 be forgot, Ecuadorians burn effigies of those people who cursed their year, so they may start anew. Plenty of Trump babies on eBay, if you need one. The fun doesn’t end there. For some reason, the men of the village dress up as the imaginary widows of the burned villains, on the lookout for donations and sympathy.

Beware the masses in March, your majesty

Time for an oldie but a goodie, in the hope I can revive it. Roughly 3,000 years ago, the good folk of Babylonia, now Iraq, would mark the start of a new year on 23rd March, as they felt Spring was more of a beginning than Winter. Shrewd!

During 11 days of revelry, the Babylonians stripped and exiled the King, so the mouse could play while the cat was away. His Majesty was brought back in fresh royal garb, and life returned to normal. Not sure how Queen Liz would feel about that.

Fancy any of those New Year traditions around the world? Best up our game next New Year, eh!


Aviva is the Content Manager at PlayOJO and writes blogs, copy and all things OJOey. A copy/content marketer for over 7 years, she gets her creative juices flowing by singing, dancing (around her living room), and belly laughing regularly.

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