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A man and a woman eating grapes

6 strange New Year's Eve traditions from around the world

Image: It is considered good luck in Spain if you eat 12 grapes at midnight |

Whether you’re planning on staying up late partying or looking to turn in as soon as the clock strikes 12, there’s no denying the power of hope that New Year's Eve can bring. From resolutions of being better to the chance to start new with a clean slate - the new year has been a cause for celebration throughout human history.

While everyone will hold their own unique traditions for family and friends around this time of year, some countries have developed traditions that might appear a little out of the ordinary to an outside observer.

Here are six weird and wonderful New Year’s Eve traditions from around the world.

1. 12 grapes at midnight - Spain

No New Year’s Eve celebration in Spain is complete until you’ve eaten precisely 12 grapes. Whether you’re partying in the streets or keeping it simple at home, across Spain, you’ll find people preparing to welcome in the New Year with a handful of fruit. People are assured a year of good luck and prosperity if they are successfully able to eat each grape with each strike of the bell as it chimes for midnight.

Across the country, Spaniards will tune in with the chiming of the clock on the television or congregate in town squares to eat their grapes together. Once they’ve finished, they start the year as they mean to continue - with one giant party!

2. Scarecrow burning - Ecuador

One of the biggest nights for celebration, New Year's Eve comes with its own unique form of therapy for the residents of Ecuador. In order to say goodbye to the year behind them, Ecuadorians will make giant scarecrows symbolising people they dislike or who had a bad influence on their lives.

Stuffing old clothes with sawdust and newspaper and using a mask for the scarecrow’s face, these effigies are set alight at midnight with the hopes that burning the negativity from the year past will bring better luck in the year ahead.

3. Furniture throwing - Italy

Italy has a plethora of New Year's Eve celebrations. However, one of its more interesting traditions is its sudden - and somewhat violent - early start to the spring cleaning. Residents in Southern Italy choose to let go of the past by throwing out their old pots, pans, electronics, and even furniture.

Symbolising a fresh start and letting go of past unhappiness, visitors might want to watch their step if they’re ringing in the new year in Italy - lest they start it with a nasty bump to the head.

4. Plate smashing - Denmark

Unlike the Italians, the Danish aren’t content with just throwing away their old crockery. Having saved them up throughout the year, any unused dishes, mugs, or glasses get a very special send-off. On 31st December, Danes will gather up their collected crockery and take it to the homes of their friends and family, where they will smash it against the front door.

This aggressive and messy tradition might seem like one way to start a grudge, but the symbolism is one of love and best wishes. Smashing a plate against someone’s front door is a way of saying thank you for their love and support and wishing them the best for the year ahead.

5. Onions on your doorframe - Greece

In Greece, parents have a peculiar request for their children on New Year’s Eve. Onions, in Greece, symbolise growth and rebirth - two things that are heartily welcomed at the start of a new year.

After hanging an onion by the door for New Year's Eve, Greek parents will then wake up their children by placing the onion on their heads to encourage good health and good luck.

6. Apple core divination - Czech Republic

Another fruit-themed tradition in the Czech Republic, apples are used to predict the year ahead. Cutting an apple in half and reviewing the shape of the core is said to show you what to expect. If your seeds form a cross, you can expect bad luck. However, if the seeds in your core form a star, you’ve got a brighter future ahead.

Romantic New Year's Eve traditions

Looking to be lucky in love in the year ahead? Here are three New Year's traditions from around the globe to help boost your love life.

  • In Italy, young hopeful romantics should wear red underwear as it’s believed to symbolise luck in fertility and love.
  • Single women in Ireland are encouraged to sleep with mistletoe under their pillow on New Year's Eve to manifest the person of their dreams in the next 12 months.
  • Perhaps the most recognisable New Year's Eve tradition, the midnight kiss might hold a little more power than you might have first believed. A British and German tradition, those looking for a smooch might want to pick their partner carefully as it’s believed that the sentiments shared at the stroke of midnight will continue on for the year.