When the New Year comes around, the world celebrates in a variety of different ways. However, what’s more interesting is that it doesn’t occur at the same time for everyone. The Lunar Calendar doesn’t end on December 31; instead, it ends sometime around February each year. With that in mind, here are some of the most unique and exciting New Year celebrations from around the globe.
10. Homemade Cannons and Diving into Ice Cold Water
After World War II, many places were left with tons of unused explosives and no idea what to do with them. The Dutch decided the best thing to do was place them in milk jugs, hammer a lid onto it, and run as fast as they could. The jugs would explode in sequence, creating a series of homemade ‘milk jug’ cannons. Following this (and a night of heavy partying), they invented the ultimate hangover cure: Jumping into an ice cold lake first thing in the morning on New Years’ Day.
9. The World’s Largest Water Gun Fight in Thailand
Imagine those epic super soaker battles you took part in as a kid. Remember how the side with the biggest guns won? Now think of that same thing in Thailand. Songkran, the Thai New Year celebration, involves three days in which everyone in the country takes part in a massive water gun fight. Of course, there is nearly as much alcohol consumed as there is water shot, so many of the participants are staggeringly drunk the entire time.
Scotland breaks away from its tradition of heavy drinking for a few moments during the celebration of Hogmanay, in which the first person to cross the threshold of your home after midnight bestows gifts to the owner. These gifts are all symbolic, meant to bring a variety of luck. However, the homeowner then returns the gesture by giving gifts to all of their guests. And then the drinking starts.
7. Greet the New Year… In Your Underwear
Imagine a brand-spanking-new pair of tidy-whities, bought just for the ringing in of the new year. For many of us, wearing nothing but briefs would prevent us from receiving a kiss for the New Year, but not Brazil. Brazilins routinely don nothing but underwear, or just a set of clean white clothes, to greet the coming year. It’s meant to symbolize a pure, fresh start to the next year of their lives.
6. Burn Your Enemies in Ecuador
Okay, not really but maybe an effigy of them. Ecuadorians take to the streets near midnight and set effigies of their rivals ablaze. These effigies are often made of cardboard, straw, and newspaper, and are meant to represent the burning away of the events of the past year. While some may wish harm on their enemies at this time of year, other people burn their own effigies in order to purify themselves through flame.
5. Santa Visits Serbia
Serbia operates on a different timeline, and one that apparently confuses old Saint Nick. People celebrate Christmas around that time, believing that Deda Mraz (Serbian Santa) pays them a visit. They then celebrate the New Year on January 13, which is the New Year according to the Julian calendar rather than the Gregorian.
Rather than celebrating the New Year in the middle of winter, Iranians mark the first day of spring as the start of their calendar. This is because the New Year is represented by the Persian solar calendar, as well as their god of sacrifice and rebirth: Domuzi. Each year, a man will dress as the god Domuzi and dance through the streets; his face painted black and wearing a red suit, to symbolize good luck in the coming year.
3. The World’s Largest Fireworks Display in Sydney
The New Year reaches Sydney before it reaches anyone else, and Aussies celebrate in style by launching one of the world’s largest fireworks displays, over the Sydney Opera House. The rest of the evening is then spent drinking, dancing, and celebrating until the sun comes up on the first day of the New Year.
2. Purge the Furniture
In certain parts of South Africa, people toss old furniture and appliances out of their windows to welcome in a new year without any leftover baggage from the previous one. However, this often results in a number of different injuries each year, but it doesn’t keep people off the streets. While some areas have made this illegal, the tradition doesn’t stop and no one is quite sure where it got started.
1. Time Square Insanity
While almost everyone knows of the crazy celebrations that happen in Times Square on New Years’ Eve, few people know what it takes to get there. Aside from the crowded streets and insane travel fares, participants in America’s largest celebration have to arrive nearly 12 hours early in order to ensure a spot, and what’s worse, there are no bathrooms. Bring an empty bottle!