Weird and wonderful traditions for welcoming the New Year

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When it comes to celebrating the New Year, it seems every country has its own quirky way of getting festive.

When it comes to celebrating the New Year, it seems every country has its own quirky way of getting festive. From bread banging in Ireland to dish throwing in Denmark, here are five of the most unusual ways the New Year is ushered in around the world.

Bread banging in Ireland

When it comes to celebrating New Year’s in Ireland, a traditional superstition is that banging Christmas bread on walls and doors will ward off bad luck while promising plentiful bread in the year to come. Another tradition we can get behind: If the first person to enter the house is a tall, dark and handsome man, it means good luck for the rest of the year.

Bread © Dov Harrington
Bread © Dov Harrington

Dish throwing in Denmark

In Denmark, it’s common practice to take old dishes, saved up throughout the year for this express purpose, and throw them at your friends’ front doors on New Year’s Eve. Returning home to find a huge pile of broken crockery outside your house is considered a good thing: Think of it as a pre-social media way of assessing your number of friendships.

Dishes © Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Thinkstock
Dishes © Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Thinkstock

Imaginary vacations in Colombia

We’ve heard of a lot of off-kilter traditions that are meant to impart good luck on the cusp of the New Year. Perhaps our favorite, though, is one that happens in Colombia: Residents are said to carry empty suitcases around their neighborhoods in the hope that the coming year will be filled with exciting travels.

Suitcases © Noel Hendrickson/Digital Vision/Thinkstock
Suitcases © Noel Hendrickson/Digital Vision/Thinkstock

Exploding milk jugs and the New Year’s Day dive in The Netherlands 

Carbide shooting, or carbidschieten, is an appropriately explosive New Year’s tradition. Carbide, a cheap material that comes in rock form, emits an explosive gas when wet; the Dutch use this material to create a cannon-like effect. The carbide is placed in large, metal milk jugs with some water, and then the gas is lit from a small touchhole. This creates a huge burst of flames accompanied by a deafening bang as each jug pops its top.

Milk Jugs © Kyle Hickman
Milk Jugs © Kyle Hickman

That’s not all for the Dutch — to begin the New Year as many as 25,000 people all jump into the ice-cold sea first thing in the morning. Consider it an effective but not particularly pleasant hangover cure!

Raining refrigerators in South Africa

Residents of Johannesburg’s Hillbrow neighborhood take part in a cleansing ritual each New Year. They take any unwanted possessions that have accumulated in their high-rise apartments throughout the year and throw them out the windows. Items like chairs, mattresses, televisions, ovens and refrigerators are cast down on to the street below, and as if that wasn’t dangerous enough, residents also shoot fireworks horizontally from one building to another.

Fridge © Guillermo Lobo/iStock/Thinkstock
Fridge © Guillermo Lobo/iStock/Thinkstock

(Main image: © Purestock/Thinkstock

Written by insider city guide series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to… whose guides cover all the best hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, sights, shops and spas

Weird and wonderful traditions for welcoming the New Year was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Claire Bullen
Author: Claire Bullen (88 posts)

Globetrotter, chowhound, travel writer for Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to... and contributor to Cheapflights Travel Blogs.