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Popping a bottle of bubbly? A smooch with your special someone? Fireworks in your back garden? However you saw in the new year, we’re willing to bet your celebrations weren’t as peculiar as some of the hi-jinks that took place across the globe. 

Behold 20 of the more surreal new year celebrations that go down beyond Blighty.

1. Belarus

Who’s destined to marry? Ask the rooster.

All the single ladies, all the single ladies. Who will be next to marry? In Belarus they have an ingenious way of finding out. Single women hoping to find love line up in an orderly fashion and lay a small pile of corn on the ground in front of them. Then a rooster is released. Whoever’s corn he pecks from first will be the first to marry. Foolproof.

2. Bolivia

What’s this in your cake?

Fancy a slice of cake? Watch your teeth if you’re in Bolivia. The new year’s tradition is to bake coins into their cakes – whoever finds them has good luck for the year.

3. Brazil

Make a splash for the year ahead.

In Brazil it’s the new year tradition to wear white. It represents peace and wards off evil spirits for the year ahead. Oh and if you see the locals on the Copacabana jumping over waves, it’s all good. It’s said that if you jump seven waves you will have good luck for the year ahead. In you pop!

4. Columbia

Fetch your suitcase.

Fancy a year filled with travel? Of course you do! And if you lived in Columbia you’d attempt to fulfil that desire by strolling around on new year’s day with an empty suitcase. That’s the idea, at least.

5. Denmark

Smash your old plate’s against your best friend’s door.

On new year’s eve in Denmark it’s traditional to grab your old plates and hurl them at the front door of anyone you want to have good luck for the year ahead. So don’t be offended if you wake up on new year’s day to a pile of smashed crockery on your doorstep – it’s a compliment. Oh, also in Denmark the tradition is to jump off a chair as the clock strikes midnight to – literally – leap in to the new year.

6. Ecuador

The burning of effigies.

In Ecuador the locals make effigies of notable cultural or political figures and set fire to them on new year’s eve. It’s supposed to symbolise burning away the old year and welcoming the new.

7. Estonia

Dining as if your year depended on it.

If one of your favourite things about the festive season is all the food, bee-line for Estonia. In this part of Europe, the numbers seven, nine and twelve are considered lucky. So on new year’s day it’s traditional to eat seven, nine or twelve meals. The more food you eat, the more abundant food will be in the year ahead. Grab your elastic-waist trousers and get gorging.

8. Hungary

A preference for pork (and no chores on NYD).

In Hungary it’s traditional to eat lots of pork on new year’s day. The rich fat represents prosperity and wealth. A superstitious bunch, the Hungarians also believe that washing with cold water on the morning of new year’s day will keep you healthy for the year ahead. And under no circumstances should you attempt chores on new year’s day – some believe doing so will cause the death of a family member.

9. Italy

The square of smooches.

Venice is a sickeningly romantic place at any time of year. But if you head to the main square on new year’s eve you are likely to witness a mass kissathon. A huge fireworks display builds up to a big kiss for your nearest and dearest and – if you’re into it – a few strangers too. Pucker up.

10. Japan

In Japan the bells are ringing…

Forget 12 peals of the church bells at midnight. In Buddhist temples across Japan, the bells are sounded 108 times to ward all within earshot of the 108 evil passions that lurk within us all…

11. Puerto Rico

Make a splash at midnight.

Quite where the idea originated, we have no idea. But in Puerto Rico it’s traditional to fill your pots and pans with water and then throw the contents out of your front door at midnight. Splash!

12. Romania

Cow whispering.

In Romania the farmers try to communicate with their animals on new year’s day. If they’re successful they will have good luck for the year ahead. It’s also traditional for people to dress up as bears, goats and other animals and gallivant hither and yon around their neighbourhoods, dropping in on neighbours to spread good luck as well as good cheer.

13. Russia

Make a wish and glug it down.

In parts of Russia they take their new year’s wish-making seriously. At midnight they write down a wish on a piece of paper. Then they set fire to it and drop the paper in their champagne, which they must drink by 12.01am for the wish to come true.

14. Scotland

Coal, whisky and the first footing.

Turns out you don’t have to trek halfway across the world to observe time-honoured new year traditions. The tradition of first footing in Scotland dictates that the first visitor to your house after midnight must bring a gift of coal or bread to bring good luck for the year. In turn they are thanked with a wee dram of whisky. Many in Scotland believe the first footer should be a tall, dark man. And in a hangover from the Viking invasion, some believe that a fair-haired, blue-eyed first footer brings bad luck.

15. South Africa

Out with the old…

Watch out if you’re strolling the streets of Johannesburg on new year’s eve, where it’s traditional to throw your old unwanted furniture out of the window to symbolise a fresh start for the year ahead.

16. Spain

12 grapes, 12 wishes, 12 seconds.

In Spain as the clocks strike twelve, revellers fill their mouths with twelve grapes. Each one represents a wish for the year ahead. Successfully negotiating the grape challenge will make your wishes come true. Fast munching is a must and a big mouth is handy.

17. Switzerland

Ice cream hurling.

In a move that would be seen as sacrilege to pudding fans, the tradition in Switzerland is to hurl ice cream on the floor at midnight. Don’t slip!

18. Thailand

A massive water fight.

It’s a soggy start to the new year in Thailand, where revellers celebrate by throwing buckets of water over one another. Best leave that fancy new year frock at home, hey?

19. Turkey

Red underwear for a prosperous year.

Red underwear. It’s a big deal in Turkey and must be purchased for women to wear on new year’s eve to bring luck for the year ahead.

20. USA

The dropping of the possum.

North Carolina sees itself as the home of the possum. To honour that fact, every year in Brasstown they lower a possum in a Perspex box from the heavens to the ground at midnight. So far, so weird. The possum used to be real, but after complaints from animal rights activists, the possum is now fake.

Happy new year…!

However you chose to see in 2018, happy new year from all of us at World First. Here’s to an exciting year of travel!

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