Many of us will be marking the new year by raising a glass, making resolutions for the year ahead, singing Auld Lang Syne, setting off fireworks or watching the ball descend in Times Square. But throughout history various cultures around the world have rung in the new year in their own unique ways. Here’s a run down of 5 of the most surprising.
Banging The Walls With Bread
Around the world there are many New Year’s traditions for driving away bad luck and attracting good for the year ahead. One of the most unusual comes from Ireland, and involves going around the house banging bread against the walls in order to chase away evil spirits.
Wearing Yellow Underwear – Or Red
In Chile and some other parts of Latin America it’s a tradition to wear yellow underwear on New Year’s Eve. Yellow represents the sun, and is associated with wealth and life, so wearing it at the start of the new year is thought to bring good fortune for the year ahead. In Italy there’s a similar custom – but the underwear should be red for its associations with good luck.
Frozen lakes are common in Siberia during the winter months, and to celebrate the new year it’s traditional to jump into one with a tree trunk, dive under the water and place the log beneath the ice.
New Year’s resolutions started out as a promise to the gods that all debts would be repaid, perhaps as a way of reassuring friends and neighbors of a person’s good intentions. But in some parts of Peru they take that idea a step further by engaging in fist fights to settle differences and start the new year afresh. Similar to the fist fighting tradition, in ancient Babylonia it was customary for the king to see in the new year by promising his high priest that he had been a good leader. Perhaps doubting the king’s honesty, the high priest would then proceed to hit him furiously, until there were tears in his eyes!
Eating – And Again, And Again…
Lots of us will eat plenty at this time of the year, but in Estonia it’s traditional to eat as much as possible in order to guard against a lack of food for the year ahead. In fact, some traditions maintain that seven times the usual amount is necessary, since seven is seen as a lucky number.