15 New Year Traditions From Around the World

Elizabeth de la Torre

We already are well aware of the many New Year traditions we have in America. What about the rest of the world? Can there be parties out there crazier than ours? Some of the traditions below may be just too crazy for you to understand!

However, perhaps knowing about the crazy traditions of the world will help you better appreciate your family’s own New Year Traditions.

 Stonehaven, Scotland: Watch Fireballs

Thousands gather in the streets of a small town in Scotland to witness the century-old Hogmany celebration. This New Year tradition entails swinging fireballs which are made from a mix of coal, old sweaters, and fir cones soaked in paraffin. Ignited just before midnight, the fireballs are sure to give off enough heat to keep everybody warm while parading down the street.

Paramaribo, Suriname: Fireworks

In the city of Paramaribo, explosive New Year traditions light up the night. Huge crowds gather to watch as a two-kilometer string of firecrackers, known as a pagara, is ignited with hopes of blasting away evil spirits.


Cuenca, Ecuador: Burn Dummies

Colorful handmade dummies made to look like people are set on fire in the streets as people parade through the night. This New Year tradition symbolizes the exiling of past ways and highlighting past good memories. It’s common that they burn a dummy that looks like celebrity or politician with this tradition.


Japan: Sunrise from Mount Takao 

New Year Traditions in Japan revel at the beauty of a sunrise peaking over the mountains. The spectacle of watching the first sunrise of the New Year is hugely popular in Japan because it’s a commencement of a new beginning for the year. High in the mountains, priests at the Yakuo temple create a mystical soundscape by blowing conch shells and performing prayers. This festival, called Geikosai, is a festival welcoming the first light of the year.


Nassau, Bahamas: Junkanoo 

Junkanoo is a Bahamian all-night festival that continues till 2am on New Year’s Day. This tradition includes a very colorful and loud parade of dancers in elaborate costumes moving to the rhythm of handmade drums, cowbells, and whistles.


Rio, Brazil: Offerings to the Sea

Big and magical traditions are happening in Brazil. Around two million people descend on Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana Beach to celebrate the New Year. With everybody dressed in white, the show begins a host of rituals and an impressive firework display. Miniature handmade boats filled with small offerings are sent off in the sea as offerings to the goddess of the water.


Top Weirdest Traditions

  • Spending the night in a cemetery where loved ones are buried (Chile)
  • Attempting to hear animals speak in order to find true happiness (Romania)
  • Striking the walls with bread in hopes of warding off evil spirits (Ireland)
  • Jumping into a frozen lake carrying a tree trunk (Russia)

Top Interesting Traditions

  • A collective kissing session (Italy)
  • Wearing red underwear as a symbol of good luck (Spain, Italy, and Mexico)
  • Having a water fight lasting three days (Thailand)
  • Throwing furniture out the window (South Africa)
  • Boxing with neighbors as settlement of quarrels (Peru)



Elizabeth de la Torre

Author Elizabeth de la Torre

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