We enjoyed researching for our last blog ‘Happy Holidays and Interesting Traditions’ so much that we decided to stick with the theme for New Year!
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the more elaborate ways people choose to celebrate New Year around the world…
Canada – Polar Bear Swim
And we’re starting in our home city – Vancouver – with none other than the famous ‘Polar Bear Swim’. Established in 1920, the Polar Bear Swim started with a group of just 10 hardy swimmers, led by a fellow called Peter Pantages. This year, the event has received over 2000 entries. At 2.30pm on January 1st, these aquatic enthusiasts will plunge into waters, probably around 6 degrees Celsius, off English Bay. Buurrrgghhh (that’s the noise we make when we’re cold).
The event attracts more than 10,000 smug observers who watch from the comfort of the beach or their boat. Vancouver isn’t alone in seeing in the New Year this way; other (and colder) parts of Canada like Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto and Clarington all have their own versions of the chilly New Year swim too.
Denmark – Smashing time
In Denmark, throwing crockery at your neighbour’s front door was a common pastime on New Year’s Eve. Whilst a casual, non-Danish observer may think they were caught in the midst of a neighbourhood brawl, it is in fact a sign of affection – sort of. It’s a way of wishing friends luck for the New Year. The household with the most earthenware shattered across their doorstep is the most popular. Sadly, we hear this is a tradition in decline.
Another favourite and more popular NYE pursuit in Denmark is to jump off a chair as the clock strikes midnight – again it supposedly brings you luck and shows that you are ready to literally leap into the New Year!
Ecuador – Burn your troubles away
Burning scarecrows at midnight is how some mark the end of the year in Ecuador. The reason is two-fold. 1. The scarecrow ‘scares’ bad luck away for the New Year. 2. The burning part is a symbolic way of destroying all the bad things from the previous year to make way for a prosperous new year!
Philippines – Celebrate with circles
All things ‘round’ are celebrated by some in the Philippines on NYE. Polka dots are common attire and eating round fruits and food at round dining tables is a popular way to see in the New Year. Why? Because these circular objects apparently symbolize coins, wealth and general prosperity for the upcoming year.
Puerto Rico – Clean away your troubles
At midnight on NYE in Puerto Rico, some families throw buckets of water out of their houses to symbolize ‘washing away’ the troubles of the previous year. Apparently it’s also common for people to spend time cleaning their houses and possessions in the run up to New Year – out with the old and in with the new!
Spain – las uvas
As the clock strikes midnight in Spain, apparently Spanish people switch their vino for the vines. The challenge is to eat twelve grapes before the final chime of the clock. Each grape represents good luck for each month of the coming year!
Estonia – Eat in the New Year!
Here’s a tradition we particularly like the sound of although our research suggests it’s not so common anymore. In Estonia, people would eat seven times on New Year’s Day. Supposedly it gave them the strength of seven men and ensured an abundance of food throughout the year!
Russia – Festive diving
Not for everyone, but a select few diving pros choose to celebrate Christmas and New Year by jumping into Lake Baikal (the world’s oldest and deepest lake.) Here they drink sparkling wine and swim around a Christmas tree… underwater. Watch this video if you don’t believe us! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pqwszusW4k
How will you be celebrating the New Year?