World's Oddest New Year Rituals

Grapes, bonfires, effigies are some nations' traditions for a lucky 2009
By Paul Stinson,  Newser User
Posted Dec 29, 2008 1:50 AM CST
This December 2007 photo shows champagne flutes filled with grapes. A Spanish tradition, some people make a wish each time they bite into the grape. Beware the sour grape that signals an unlucky month.   (AP Photo/Larry Crowe, FILE)
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(Newser) – While much of the world indulges in the traditional New Year's Eve fare of glittery balls and fireworks, other countries have more unusual ways of shepherding in the next year, reports Travel and Leisure. For example: 

  • Spain: Gobbling a grape for each clock stroke is considered a fruity down payment on a month of good luck in the New Year.

  • Finland: What does your future hold? The metal knows. Fins cast molten tin into a pot of water and then interpret the metal’s shape after it hardens. A ring signals a wedding. A pig shape points to abundant food.
  • Panama: Nothing drives off evil spirits like a good fire, or a good effigy representing yesteryear. Locals burn effigies of well-known people in New Year’s bonfires, including the country’s first Olympic gold winner.  
  • Denmark: Leaping into the New Year is taken literally in this Nordic country, where jumping off chairs together at midnight is meant to banish bad spirits and bring good luck.
  • Scotland: The New Year's Eve celebration of Hogmanay features bonfires galore and the custom of “first-footing”—requiring the first person to cross the threshold of a house in the New Year to carry a gift for luck, usually whiskey.
Try your luck with the rest of the list by clicking here: