10 Crazy (and Awesome) International New Year’s Eve Traditions

Big Ben, Tower of London, 2015, New Year London

Getting tired of watching the ball drop every New Year’s Eve? Maybe it’s time to adopt a new tradition. If you’re feeling adventurous, try one of these from around the world.

Smashing pomegranates in Greece

Pomegranates have an important place in Greek history, art, and cuisine, so a pomegranate is always a welcome housewarming gift. In Greece, they’re on the table for important holidays and religious ceremonies, but at midnight on New Year’s Eve, they’re rolled forcefully against the front door of the house or smashed directly on the ground. The more seeds that spill out, the more good fortune for the new year.

Chucking furniture in South Africa

Be sure to have your wits about you when walking in the streets on New Year’s Eve. (In other words, go easy on the champagne!) You’ll need to watch out for flying toasters, TVs, couches, and chairs. South Africans take the idea of a fresh start very seriously, so any items that are old, in disrepair, or simply unnecessary or unwanted are thrown directly out the window!

Destroying dishes in Denmark

In Denmark, if you want to wish friends or family good luck for the coming year, you hurl dishes at their front door on New Year’s Eve. More broken dishes = more loyal friends and more prosperity. (It also means more sweeping up shards of glass or porcelain on New Year’s Day!)

Beating the walls with bread in Ireland

To chase out bad luck and/or spirits, the Irish use a loaf bread to hit the outside walls, doors, and windows of their homes. While bread might seem an odd choice, it ensures that those in the home will have enough bread to eat in the coming year.

Jumping into a frozen lake in Siberia

At Lake Baikal in Russia, divers cut a hole in the frozen lake and jump in while holding a tree. The divers emerge out of the freezing water, but leave the tree under the ice. If this sounds like your type of New Year’s celebration, you’ll have to get some training first—only professional divers can participate in this plunge into the deepest lake in the world.

Swinging fireballs in Scotland

In Stonehaven, Scotland, there’s a midnight procession of daring participants who swing fireballs around their heads. The fireballs are wire cages filled with flammables and they serve to burn off the bad feelings and spirits of the past year and make way for good vibes in the next year.

Gulping grapes in Spain

As the clock strikes midnight, celebrants in Spain eat one grape for each of the twelve chimes. They also make a wish for each grape-chime, which requires some serious multitasking. If they can pull it off, they’ll have good luck for the next year. This tradition also takes place in several Latin American countries.

Cursing in Japan

In Ashikaga, Japan, people begin a trek up the mountain to the Saishoji Temple at 11:00 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. As they walk, they scream profanity, insults, and other pent-up frustrations of the year into the night. The idea is to get it all out of their systems so that by the time they reach the temple and the clock strikes 12, their language changes abruptly to congratulations and well-wishing—and they’re ready for a service at the temple to welcome in a new, peaceful year.

Dropping cream on the floor in Switzerland

In Switzerland, the best way to ensure abundance in the coming year is to showcase your current prosperity by dropping a bit of cream on the floor. Just don’t slip in it!

Running with an empty suitcase in Latin America

In Mexico, Colombia, and other Latin American countries, you grab your luggage at midnight and run around the block with it. Completing this ritual ensures that you’ll have a year filled with travels. Hawaii, here I come!


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