10 of the World's Most Entertaining New Year's Customs

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Watching the ball drop in Times Square, raising a toast, and sealing the night with a smooch may be the most quintessentially American ways to celebrate, but around the world, revelers and party-goers give the traditional ball drop a run for its money. From shattering dishes to carefully choosing underwear for the night, here are 10 of the world’s most entertaining ways to ring in the New Year.

1. BRAZIL // UNDERWEAR ATTIRE

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While some of us don our most shimmery dresses for the New Year's party—or our comfiest pajamas to celebrate with a low-key night in—Brazilians take a much simpler, minimalistic approach to ringing in the New Year: The dress code is for all-white attire, but the color of your underwear is thought to determine your arena of luck in the new year. Want to find love? Pick the pink panties. Financial security may be attained by wearing yellow undergarments, and green is for good health.

2. DENMARK // SHATTERING DISHES

The Danish get a jump on cleaning out their cupboards by taking any chipped or unused crockery and shattering it against their friends' and families' doors to ring in the new year. The more plate pieces piled at your doorstep, the more popular your family … which may or may not make the next day's hungover cleanup more manageable.

3. SPAIN // A MOUTH FULL OF GRAPES

The Spanish don’t just celebrate the New Year with drink in hand—they ring it in with a mouth full of grapes. If you can fit 12 grapes into your mouth at midnight, you’re believed to have great luck in the coming year.

4. SIBERIA // LAKE DIVING WITH A "NEW YEAR TREE"

A typical ball-and-gown party doesn’t cut it in Siberia; they’re all about the thrill—and chill. To celebrate the New Year, some revelers participate in the annual "jump into a frozen lake and plant a New Year's Tree at the bottom" tradition—sort of like a more extreme Polar Plunge. The divers then pass the champagne and dance around the tree before coming back up to the surface. But even those who don't do the full tree dive will go for their own frozen swim—there's a reason all Russian bath houses have an icy cold pool! It's practically a national pastime.

5. CHILE // CEMETERY SLEEPOVER

In the town of Talca, Chile, locals add extra spirit to New Year’s Eve by celebrating the holiday in a cemetery, surrounded by all of their deceased loved ones. Legend has it this tradition started with a little breaking and entering, but it’s now a welcomed celebration that draws locals in by the thousands.

6. ESTONIA // EATING SEVEN TIMES ON NEW YEAR'S DAY

Estonia knows how to kick off the New Year right. Instead of resolving to diet and exercise, they eat—a lot. Traditionally, Estonians believed that by eating seven times on New Year’s Day, they could ensure a well-fed, abundant year. While this tradition has changed slightly over the years—Estonians celebrate with alcohol as much as food these days—it’s a tradition party-goers around the world participate in without even realizing it. (Cough, Seamless binge, cough.)

7. THAILAND // WATER FIGHT

While the Thai New Year isn’t until April 13, their celebratory festival, called Songkran, is just too good to pass up: a water fight. Yes, a full-on water fight where major roads are blocked off and Thai locals—and, as you’d imagine, loads of visitors—use buckets, fire hoses, water guns, and even elephants to throw water at each other. Inner child, rejoice—and purchase Songkran plane tickets immediately.

8. ECUADOR // BURNING EFFIGIES

Ecuador literally lights up on New Year’s Eve. Locals make large, paper-filled effigies that can resemble anyone from beloved pop culture figures like Homer Simpson to maligned politicians, and they set them on fire when the clock strikes midnight. As the tale goes, this burning ritual lets Ecuadorians forget the past and focus on a good New Year.

9. AUSTRALIA // SYDNEY FIREWORKS DISPLAY

As one of the first countries to celebrate the New Year, Australians kick off the festivities with a major bang—to the tune of seven firework-filled barges. The annual 12-minute show—one of the world’s largest fireworks displays—dazzles more than 1 million spectators who gather along the waterfront, with the beautiful Sydney Opera House as its backdrop. They even host an earlier fireworks show, at 9 p.m., for any little Aussies whose bedtime is long before the main event.

10. SOUTH AFRICA // THROWING HOUSEHOLD ITEMS OUT THE WINDOW

To end things on a slightly absurd (and rather unsafe) note, we have Johannesburg, South Africa, where locals ring in the New Year by throwing old household items out the window—a quite literal "out with the old" type of symbolism. The tradition has gotten a bit out of hand in recent years, as residents in high-rise buildings have taken to tossing furniture, appliances, bottles and, well, just about anything out the windows. As you’d expect, this tradition comes with its set of annual injuries, but local government is doing its part to keep the New Year’s celebrations safe—even if it’s accompanied by the age-old warning, "Watch out below!"

All images via Getty.

Ralphie's House From A Christmas Story Is Available to Rent

Jimmy Emerson, DVM, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Jimmy Emerson, DVM, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

From Chinese restaurant Christmas dinners to receiving embarrassing gifts from an aunt, many viewers can relate to Ralphie Parker's holiday experience in 1983's A Christmas Story. Now fans of the beloved film—which is celebrating its 35th anniversary—can live it firsthand: As WLWT5 reports, the Parker house from A Christmas Story is available to rent on a nightly basis.

Located in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland, Ohio, the iconic childhood home of the movie's narrator is open to the public year-round. During the day, guests can take a guided tour of the house where Ralphie almost shot his eye out. The interior is decorated to match the movie's 1940s setting, complete with a leg lamp in the living room window.

At night, the building's private third floor is available for guests to rent out. The loft, which includes a bedroom, living room, kitchen, and bathroom, can accommodate six people at a time. Rates start at $395 per night, though the price varies depending on the time of year.

Whether you're spending the night at Ralphie's or just visiting for a tour, your trip also includes admission to the Christmas Story Museum across the street. There you'll find original memorabilia from the film, including Randy's snowsuit, the chalkboard from Miss Shields's classroom, and the Parker family's car.

To book your stay, head over to the house and museum's website.

Interior of home from A Christmas Story.
A Christmas Story House & Museum

[h/t WLWT5]

10 Holiday-Related Phobias and How to Avoid Them

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iStock.com/mphillips007

Let's face it: The holiday season can be stressful and anxiety-inducing. Here are some phobias you can expect to encounter and how to avoid them.

1. Chionophobia

The fear of snow. May be experienced while driving through a blizzard, after an icy snowball hits you in the eye, or upon realizing that you consumed flakes of a yellow variety. Best relieved by: Staying in.

2. Doronophobia

The fear of receiving—and opening—presents. (It should not be confused with dromophobia, the fear of crossing streets.) May be experienced when you get a gift from a sworn enemy or when opening a present from an in-law who still thinks your favorite color, for some inexplicable reason, is “neon.” Best relieved by: Staying in.

3. Nomophobia

The fear of being unable to use your cell phone. May be experienced during nasty winter storms, on remote ski slopes, and during political dinner conversations with your extended family from which there is no escape. Best relieved by: Staying in.

4. Dendrophobia

The fear of trees. May be experienced when your spouse or parent insists that he or she knows how to assemble the Christmas tree stand, despite not knowing how to even work a screwdriver. Best relieved by: Staying in.

5. Cryophobia

The fear of the cold. May be experienced if you spend most of your time in New England, the Great Plains, the Midwest, the Rockies, the Sierras, Alaska, Canada, an igloo, a high-end mall, or a Siberian gulag. Best relieved by: Staying in.

6. Auroraphobia

Fear of the Northern Lights. May be experienced if you’re a member of the Scandinavian Sámi people—who reportedly consider it a bad omen—or if grand and awe-inspiring celestial events such as solar eclipses, meteor showers, and comets overwhelm you to the point that you feel small and insignificant, thusly causing you to spiral into an existential funk that eventually compels you to accept that existence may be a mere distraction-filled parade-march toward a deep and endless oblivion. Best relieved by: Staying in.

7. Pedophobia

The fear of children. May be experienced on the plane bound for a family gathering, at the family gathering itself, and as you wait in a mile-long line leading to the mall Santa. Best relieved by: Staying in.

8. Decidophobia

The fear of making decisions. May be experienced while attempting to buy gifts for picky people, whenever you encounter a sloppy winter road that diverges in a yellow wood, and while mulling the decision to eat a tweflth gingerbread cookie. Best relieved by: Staying in.

9. Ipovlopsychophobia

The fear of having your picture taken. May be experienced if your entire family hasn't been together in years, if you thought today was a good day to wear that unflattering sweater, or if the nosiest member of your family just received a selfie-stick for the holidays and keeps insisting that you “come over here and check this out.” Best relieved by: Staying in.

10. Cleithrophobia

The fear of being trapped. May be experienced if you live in Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester, Erie, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and anywhere else regularly visited by debilitating piles of lake effect snow. Best relieved by: Getting out.

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