New Year's Eve Traditions Around the World: Breaking Glass, Drinking Ashes, and Mass Kisses
It's almost time to bid adieu to 2013. On New Year's Eve, many Americans will ring in 2014 with time-honored traditions: Namely, by watching the Times Square Ball drop in New York on TV and/or getting wasted with friends at a completely overpriced party. Since 1907, a ball drop has signaled the introduction of the new year in Times Square.
The first time the ball dropped (teehee), it was fashioned by an immigrant named Joseph Starr, was made of iron and wood, contained 100 25-watt light bulbs, and weighed 700 pounds. Cute. The permanent Big Ball of today weighs nearly six tons and is adorned with more than 2,500 Waterford Crystal triangles and 32,000 LED lights. Even though it's quite a spectacle, many towns and cities across the world have their own New Year's Eve traditions — and some are anything but traditional.
Americans Will Drop Just About Anything
Towns across the United States have some, um, interesting ways of ringing in the new year. Since not everyone can afford a sparkling crystal ball, some cities have put their own quirky spin on the ball drop, instead opting for:
- Atlanta's Peach Drop (headlined by Janelle Monae this year)
- A giant Peep in Bethlehem, Pa. (because why not?)
- A seriously humongous 500-pound "watermelon" in Vincennes, Ind. (Although it seems to just be a canister to drop smaller watermelons. Lame.)
- A carp fish in Prairie du Chien, Wis., whom locals peck with a goodnight kiss
- A red shoe drop in Key West, Fla. (with a drag queen named Sushi sitting inside)
If you've got some extra time on your hands, I suggest going through the hilarious list of objects dropped on New Year's Eve. So worth it.
And honestly, who can forget when Jersey Shore star Snooki was dropped in a giant hamster ball in 2011 on the Seaside Heights boardwalk?
Europeans Like Watching TV, Throwing Stuff, and Making Out
- Iceland celebrates New Year's Eve by watching TV. How American of them. But seriously, the annual program, called Áramótaskaupið, is no joke. The sketch show, which lampoons Icelandic politicians and celebrities, attracts 75-90 percent of the entire country's population.
- In Denmark, people crash plates and glasses and friends' doors. They also hop off chairs and sofas to literally "jump" into the new year. (They have a lot of pent up energy from being so perfect all year.)
- Many people kiss a loved one when the clock strikes midnight, but maybe it's fitting that passionate Italian couples in Venice have a mass kissing session in the city's square. Why don't we live in Italy, again?
In Russia, New Year's Celebrates You
Russians reportedly write down a wish on a piece of paper and burn it. OK, fine. But then, they take it a step farther: they throw the ashes of the wish into a glass of champagne and then drink it at midnight. Gulp.
South America Gets Naughty
South Americans pick their New Year's Eve undies very carefully: Yellow underwear is thought to bring good luck, and red is believed to attract love. And in Ecuador, teenage boys dress up as girls and then dance on the street, causing traffic jams. The country also burns effigies of cartoon characters — and this year, they're apparently sacrificing the Space Jam crew.
Think Fast in South Africa
In one neighborhood of Johannesburg, South Africa, revelers throw old appliances — toasters, microwaves, refrigerators, even furniture — out the window in order to signify a new beginning to the year. Cops have repeatedly issued "flying fridges" warnings. Look out!