New Year's Eve falls on December 31st for those who go by the Gregorian calendar around the world, and every nation has their own way of celebrating the arrival of the new year.
Some traditions are ancient and steeped in superstition, others are more modern adaptations of old ways, but to me the stranger the tradition the better!
1. In Ecuador They Burn Effigies-
In Ecuador it is traditional for people to burn effigies of their enemies on New Year's Eve, to destroy the bad energy from the previous year and start the new year off with a clean slate...on which to write names of new enemies.
Nowadays, people burn effigies symbolizing more than just their enemies, but I'm not sure what burning poor SpongeBob SquarePants is supposed to signify...
2. In South Africa They Throw Old Appliances Out The Window-
South Africans carry on traditions they brought to Africa with them from Europe, including one smashing good tradition they share with the Italians of throwing old household goods out the window.
It's not uncommon to see old appliances and furniture being thrown out of windows in Johannesburg, signifying it's time to throw out the old and usher in the new. Depending on who gets hit with flying furniture they may be ushering in a new lawsuit!
3. In Peru They Pick Three Potatoes-
After the Peruvians are done beating the crap out of each other for Christmas during the Takanakuy ceremony they prepare for New Year's Eve by buying some potatoes.
They hide three potatoes under a chair, one fully peeled, one partially peeled and one unpeeled, then choose one at random.
This potato is meant to be a forecast for the new year, with the skinless signifying no money and the unpeeled signifying prosperity.
The Russian New Year's tradition is probably the most normal entry on this list, but it's still strange compared to your run-of-the-mill eating some grapes or kissing a loved one traditions.
Russian celebrants write their wish on a piece of paper, then they burn the paper with a candle and scoop the ashes into their champagne, drinking it down to make sure their wishes come true.
5. In Mexico They Wear Red Underwear And Carry Around Empty Luggage-
Mexico has lots of strange New Year's traditions they share with other countries in Central and South America, because of their common Spanish heritage.
Two of the most colorful traditions are the carrying of an empty piece of luggage around town, to bring lots of travel in the new year, and wearing a new pair of underwear in an appropriate color, with red signifying luck in love and gold signifying prosperity.
6. In Finland They Melt Lead To Tell Fortunes-
The Finnish carry on lots of ancient traditions, including the New Year's Eve tradition of practicing molybdomancy, or the act of using molten lead as a tool for divination.
They melt lead in a small pot on their stove then pour the molten metal into cold water, seeing what the future has in store for them according to the metal's shape.
A ring or heart shape means love, a pig symbolizes good health and a ship signifies lots of travel to come.
7. In Romania They Wear Bear Costumes And Talk To Livestock-
Romanians are a rather superstitious lot, so their New Year's traditions are performed purely for the sake of keeping bad spirits at bay and ushering in a year of good fortune.
One of the most fun New Year's Eve traditions involves people donning real bear skins and dancing around town to chase off evil spirits, since the bear is a protector in Romanian mythology.
Romanian farmers also listen intently to their livestock in hopes that the animals will say something and therefore usher in a new year full of prosperity.
8. In Germany They Watch "Dinner For One" On TV-
The oddball German tradition of watching an old British TV comedy sketch called "Dinner For One" on New Year's Eve is said to have begun in 1972, but the origins of this tradition are unknown.
But that doesn't stop eager Germans from working the obscure short film into their New Year's Eve schedules every year, eagerly reciting the lines from a short few remember.
Here's a version of the short for your amusement:
9. In Scotland They Hurl Balls Of Fire-
The Scottish people are fiery folks, so it makes sense that their New Year's tradition would involve a warlike ceremony and the hurtling of something that's on fire.
One of the most spectacular parts of the Hogmanay celebration in Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire is the swinging of a fireball, made from chicken wire and newspapers.
The townspeople walk down the street swinging the fireball, ending the ceremony by hurtling their fireballs into the harbour.
10. In Estonia They Dine Up To Twelve Times-
An ancient Estonian tradition states that whoever eats 7, 9 or 12 meals on New Year's Eve will gain the strength of that many men in the new year, so celebrants stuff their faces for good fortune. I guess it's better than waking up hungry and hung over!
Wherever you are in the world and whatever you're doing to celebrate I hope you have a spectacular New Year's Eve!