Off the Topic: 5 Unique New Year's Traditions from Around the World

How do you celebrate New Year’s?  If I had to take a guess, you probably celebrate New Year’s surrounded by family and friends, enjoying drinks of your choice (probably wine and champagne) and watching the ball drop with Dick Clark (and now Ryan Seacrest). If you’re particularly lucky, perhaps you share a kiss with that special someone when the clock hits 12:00am. Have you ever imagined how New Year’s would look in another country?  Listed below are five of the top ten “Unique New Year Traditions from Around the World.”

1) Breaking Dishes On Neighbor’s Door  – Denmark

A strange and weird Danish New Year tradition, depending on how you look at it, is throwing dishes at neighbor’s door. Strangely, this makes them happy instead of annoying them. The family with the tallest tower of broken plates, glasses, cups and other crockery is considered to be the luckiest person because it symbolizes their large amount of loyal friends.










2) Talking to Spirits – Mexico

Talking to spirits is a part of Mexican belief. Mexicans strongly believe that they can communicate with the souls of their dead loved ones. New Year’s Eve is considered the best time to communicate with dead spirits to convey a message or ask for guidance. And this is not done at home on an individual basis but is a legal Mexican practice.  Taos Inn, in New Mexico for example, offers 15 minutes session of spiritualism and meditation for $15. Not a bad price for some helpful guidance!







3) Wearing Polka Dots – Philippines

Imagine streets full of people wearing polka dots and dining room tables full of round shaped food and fruits on one single day of the year. This all actually happens in the Philippines on New Year’s Eve every year. Philippines believe that this will bring them prosperity by associating the round dots to coins and wealth.










4) Burning Scarecrow Dummy – Ecuador

Ecuador has a unique custom of crafting scarecrows and then burning them at midnight. They adorn them and fill the scarecrows with newspapers and pieces of wood. As midnight approaches, everyone gathers outside their home and each family burns their own scarecrow. The tradition says that this destroys all the bad things that took place in the past 12 months. The scarecrow also scares away bad luck, which in turn, fills their new year with luck and happiness.








5) Mistletoe Leaves Are Placed Under Pillow to Find Husband – Ireland

The single women of Ireland wait desperately for New Year’s Eve because it is the night that can bring them the love of their lives. They place mistletoe leaves under their pillow hoping to catch their future husband. It is also believed in the Irish culture that this act will help them get rid of bad luck.










The world is a large and very different place.  Yes, people of all nations may celebrate New Year’s much differently around the world, with different traditions, but there are a lot of general themes to be seen.  We all want to start a new, fresh year with renewed enthusiasm and hope no matter what happened during the past year.  We all want to be happier, find love, renew friendships,  increase our wealth and also hope for a little extra luck in the coming new year.  I (and we at Sherpa) hope everyone has an enjoyable holiday season, a great New Year’s and beyond!  We wish you all the best of luck with all your endeavors in the coming year!




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