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Strange New Year customs

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By Fiona Reid
Strange New Year customs

DRINKING ashes, dressing as bears and taking suitcases for a walk are among the unusual New Year’s traditions from across the globe.

The research team at have revealed the interesting and bizarre customs to welcome in the new year.

A spokesman said: “Most Brits are fairly traditional when it comes to New Year’s Eve. We sing Auld Lang Syne, watch some fireworks and generally drink a little too much.

“Some countries across the globe have much more interesting customs. Some seem slightly bizarre, like dressing up as dancing bears, drinking ashes and throwing plates.

“Perhaps to usher in the next 12 months, it would be an exciting twist to try a few on New Year’s Eve.”

Romania: In Romania, some farmers welcome in the New Year by talking to their animals to bring good luck. Others celebrate by getting into dancing bear costumes – tradition dictates bears can protect and heal people against evil spirits.

Greece: An onion is traditionally hung above the front door on New Year’s Eve as a symbol of rebirth. In the morning parents wake their children by tapping them on the head with the onion.

El Salvador: Many Salvadorans will crack an egg into a glass on the 31st of December and leave it on a windowsill overnight. The shape it has formed by the morning will predict the household’s fortune.

South Africa: Families traditionally like to mark the beginning of a new year by throwing unwanted furniture and other household items out of the window, representing ‘out with the old and in with the new’.

Portugal and Spain: The customary New Year’s Eve challenge is to stuff 12 grapes into the mouth for each chime of midnight and try to finish eating them before the clock falls silent.

Turkey: As the bells ring in the New Year, people open their front door and sprinkle salt on the step to bring peace and abundance.

The Philippines: Superstitious Filipinos will commonly turn on all the lights in the house on New Year’s Eve, to ward off evil spirits and shut them after midnight strikes.

Germany: Germans will celebrate by eating a donut filled with jam or liquor. Beware though, some contain a filling like mustard which signifies bad luck.

Russia: Revellers celebrate the New Year by writing down a wish on a piece of paper, burning it, throwing the ash into a glass of champagne or wine and drinking it at a minute past midnight.

Denmark: Danes love to jump off a chair when midnight strikes and throw plates at the doors of friends’ houses. The more broken crockery on your doorstep, the better your luck for the coming year.

Italy: Italians believe wearing red underwear on New Year’s Eve will bring love, luck and prosperity.

Brazil: Brazilians tend to eat lentils, which represents money, to ensure good fortune for the months ahead. They also jump seven waves – one for each day – at the beach to bring good luck.

Japan: All bells are rung 108 times in line with the Buddhist belief it brings cleanliness. It’s also thought to be good luck to be smiling.

Finland: Finns traditionally predict their fortune for the year ahead by dropping melted metal into a container of water and interpreting the shape it forms as it cools.

Colombia: Colombians carry a suitcase with them on New Year’s Eve in the hope of having a travel filled year ahead.

Front, Moffat

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