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Published: Tuesday December 31, 2013 MYT 10:20:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday December 31, 2013 MYT 1:37:13 PM

10 strange New Year's customs

Slumber party at the graveyard. - AFP

Slumber party at the graveyard. - AFP

Around the world, people find unusual ways to ring in the new year.

AMID the fireworks and festivities, ushering in the new year in different parts of the world can involve some pretty strange traditions. Strange as they may seem, some of these traditions could potentially be fun (and perfectly family-friendly, too!)

#1: Put your right foot out

If you want to start your year off on the right foot, do it like the Argentinians – put your right foot out at midnight on New Years Day! Other variations of this tradition include hopping three times on your right foot or climbing down a stool using your right foot first.

#2: Predict your future

In Germany, Austria and Finland, the people read molten metal by melting it and pouring it into cold water. The shape of the hardened metal is a sign of what’s ahead in the coming year (although the shapes are open for interpretation). Usually, a heart or ring shape signifies an impending marriage, a ship represents travel, and a pig shape means abundance and lots of food. Instead of looking at tea leaves – which are typically used to predict the future, watching the metal take shape can be pretty cool!

#3: Roll out that suitcase!

In hopes of a travel-filled year, Colombians carry their suitcases around their residential blocks on New Year’s Day. All right, you’ll probably get some weird stares from the people in your neighbourhood if you choose to do this, but it’ll be a hoot to do this with your family.

#4: Rounding it out

From displaying heaps of round fruit on the dining table on New Year's Eve to wearing polka dots on New Year's day, many Filipino families usher in the new year with round shapes (representing coins), which are thought to symbolise prosperity for the coming year!

Jump into the New Year for a joyful and exciting 2014.
Jump into the New Year for a joyful and exciting 2014.

#5: Jumping into the new year!

The Danes – quite literally – jump into the New Year by standing on chairs and jumping off of them together at midnight. The whole idea of ‘leaping into January’ is supposed to bring good luck and banish evil spirits.

#6: The 12 grapes of luck

As the clock strikes midnight in Spain, they eat 12 grapes – one with every toll – to bring good luck and prosperity for the next 12 months of the New Year. In some areas, it is believed that this scrumptious tradition wards off all evil.

Splashing water on each other is a fun way to usher in the new year.
Splashing water on each other is a fun way to usher in the new year.

#7: Water splash

The Thais usher in the New Year by splashing buckets of water on each other. In addition to that, they will have small bowls of beige coloured talc which is smeared on passers-by as a blessing for the new year. It is believed that as they throw water over one another, it will bring good rain in the coming year.

#8: Cemetery sleepover

Thousands of Chileans spend the New Year in the company of their loved ones (be it deceased or alive) ... at the cemetery! Although many foreigners find this tradition too ghoulish and brings bad luck, it is seen as a wonderful, happy way for families to get together and preserve the memory of loved ones who have gone to a better place.

#9: What does the cow say?

This Romanian ritual, often seen as wacky and ridiculous, is popularly practised by farmers. They try to hear the animals speak. If they succeed, it’s a bad omen; if they fail, it’s good luck. They carry out this ritual in hopes of finding true happiness in life.

#10: Paying respect to elders

The most ceremonial ritual on New Year’s Day in Korea is ‘seh bae’ which means a deep bow to the floor. Families begin doing the ‘seh bae’ to deceased ancestors. However, depending on the family, the ‘seh bae’ may instead start with children and grown-ups bowing and paying respect to their elders, beginning with deep bows to the oldest living generation. The beauty of the Korean New Year is that it is the time for Koreans to reconnect with their families.

Good luck to you, fella! - Filepic
Good luck to you, fella! - Filepic

A few other strange traditions

> Striking the walls with bread to ward off evil spirits (Ireland)

> Throwing furniture out the window (Johannesburg, South Africa)

> Jumping into a frozen lake while carrying a tree trunk (Siberia, Russia)

> A collective kissing session on a square (Venice, Italy)

> Wearing red underwear, a symbol of good luck (Spain, Italy and Mexico)

> Boxing with neighbours to settle long-standing quarrels (Peru)

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle, New Year's Eve, customs

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