Weird New Year's traditions that you didn't know about
Discover some of the quirkiest and wackiest New Year's traditions in Europe. Plan a New Year's Eve trip for next year to one of these destinations.
Whether you love or hate New Year’s Eve, there’s no getting away from the fact that it’s a very big deal. Although not all cultures officially start their new year on January 1st, it’s celebrated all over the world with parties, and fireworks.
And, in some countries, there are some very quirky, weird New Year’s traditions that might surprise you. We’re going to have a look at some of the strangest New Year’s traditions in Europe.
Who knows, maybe you’ll be taking part in one of them for yourself next year.
Weird New Year’s traditions in Spain
In Spain, as midnight approaches, everyone’s busy counting out twelve grapes a piece. You need to eat one of those twelve grapes with every strike of the bell at midnight. Everyone in Spain tunes into the coverage in Madrid, so everyone’s eating their grapes together.
Some people try and stuff all twelve grapes into their mouths without eating them, but some people try and bite them in half and swallow them down to make space. Have a glass of your favourite tipple to hand to wash them all down.
It seems the tradition started back in 1909 when there was a bumper harvest of grapes in Alicante, and crafty farmers were trying to figure out how to sell more of them.
Odd New Year’s Eve traditions in Germany
There are two weird New Year’s traditions in Germany. The first is lead pouring, which is also popular in Finland. Each person melts a small piece of lead or tin over a candle and pours it into a container of cold water. The shape it forms into is meant to reveal that person’s fate for the year ahead.
Another thing that can’t be missing from any self-respecting New Year’s Eve party is a krapfen, a German doughnut, that’s usually jam or chocolate filled, but sometimes filled with mustard as a prank.
Unusual New Year’s traditions in Europe: Denmark
In Denmark, on New Year it’s traditional to throw plates and dishes against your friend’s and neighbour’s front doors. The bigger the pile the next morning, the more luck you’ll have during the year.
People in Denmark also often jump off chairs at midnight to symbolise a leap into the New Year, and there are plenty of other quirky Danish traditions too.
New Year’s Eve traditions in Europe: Scotland
In Scotland, the first person to cross your threshold after midnight on New Year’s Eve is thought to be an omen for the year ahead.
The best person to enter the house to guarantee good luck is thought to be a tall, dark-haired man bearing gifts like coins, bread and whisky. It’s thought that this dates back to Viking times, when fair-haired strangers meant nothing but trouble.
Special New Year’s traditions in Italy
There are plenty of weird New Year’s Eve traditions in Italy. In Naples, people throw old furniture out of the window to symbolise a fresh start.
In Venice, thousands of people gather in the Piazza San Marco, where it’s believed that a ‘kiss in Venice’ will bring you happiness in the year ahead.
Oh, and lots of people in Italy wear red underwear on the night, as it’s associated with fertility and love.
Strange New Year’s traditions in Romania
If you’re looking for something completely different on New Year’s Eve, try Romania. There are ceremonies celebrating death and rebirth, and people dance dressed in furs and masks, which is believed to ward off evil spirits.
Bringing in the New Year in Holland
A tasty tradition in Holland is eating the doughnut-like balls known as oliebollen.
Apparently, and bizarrely, ancient Germanic tribes would eat them during the Yule period to protect them from the goddess Perchta, who would try and punish them by cutting their stomachs open if they hadn’t taken part in yuletide cheer. Today, they’re enjoyed on New Year’s Eve.
Unusual New Year’s traditions: Turkey – pomegranates, salt on doorstep
In Turkey, some people sprinkle salt on their doorstep at midnight to bring them peace and prosperity. Others open pomegranates to attract wealth.
New Year’s traditions in Europe: Greece
In Greece, people associate onions with rebirth and development, so they hang them on their doors to make sure they continue to grow in the new year.
Traditions at New Year in the Czech Republic
In the Czech Republic, people predict what will happen during the year ahead with the help of an apple. An apple is cut in half, and the shape of the core is meant to foretell the fate of everyone surrounding it. A cross means someone at the party will fall ill, and a star means health and happiness for all.
New Year’s Eve in Estonia
As if you hadn’t eaten enough over Christmas, in Estonia, the feast continues on New Year’s Eve.
In Estonia, people are meant to feast seven, nine or twelve times on New Year’s Eve, as these are all lucky numbers.
Some people just believe that the numbers are lucky, but some think that eating that number of meals will mean you have enough prosperity and strength for seven, nine or twelve people during the year ahead.
Traditions on New Year’s Eve in Ireland
In Ireland, single women hoping to find love in the new year traditionally sleep with mistletoe under their pillow on New Year’s Eve.
Trying weird New Year’s traditions by spending New Year’s Eve somewhere new is the perfect way to kick off a year of discovery, travel, learning and, most importantly, fun.