SOURCE: Cheapflights Media

Cheapflights Media

December 21, 2012 06:33 ET Celebrates the Top 10 Curious New Year's Traditions From Around the Globe

Experts Look at Different Ways to Say "Happy New Year" Around the World; Curious Traditions Include Giving Coal, Wearing Red (and Yellow) Underwear, Eating Lentils, Grapes, and Boiled Seaweed, Men in Frocks, Burning Effigies, Icy Swims -- and Predicting the Future With Molten Lead

LONDON--(Marketwire - Dec 21, 2012) - With less than two weeks of 2012 left, the travel experts at decided to discover how different cultures from around the globe celebrate the arrival of the New Year. Check out's list of Top 10 New Year's Traditions, which may inspire you to start your own custom to ring in 2013 with family and friends.

Our experts looked at culturally diverse New Year's traditions celebrated in various countries around the world, rating them for a range of criteria including how long they've been established, community involvement and engagement, the number of people taking part, the warmth of the welcome -- and how strongly they were associated with the time of year. Here are the five that topped our list:

  • Germany & Finland - How about a spot of fortune telling to ring in the New Year? Molybdomancy is an ancient technique of divination that involves interpreting the shapes made by dropping molten lead into cold water. On New Year's Eve in Germany and Finland, family and friends come together for a spot of lead pouring -- Bleigießen in German and uudenvuodentina in Finnish -- and make predictions for the coming year. It isn't an exact science and there are no firm rules on what the shapes actually represent. A bubbly surface can mean money is coming your way; a broken shape misfortune. Ships refer to travelling; a ball means luck; a monkey says beware of false friends; and a hedgehog means someone is jealous of you. But don't get too worried if you receive a bad fortune -- the predictions are just for fun; and you can always pour some more.

  • Ecuador - One of Ecuador's quirkiest traditions sees men putting on their finest frocks and dressing up as women to represent the "widow" of the year that has passed. However, the focus of the country's celebrations comes in a much more fiery form. At midnight, families and communities come together to light fireworks and burn Monigotes -- papier-mâché effigies -- of politicians, public figures and popular culture icons. The puppets range from small, simple, homemade offerings to giant, detailed, professionally-made creations. The puppets are filled with sawdust or newspaper and, in some cases, firecrackers. Burning the Monigotes represents getting rid of the bad feelings, events and spirits of the past year.

  • Scotland - Hogmanay is the Scots word for the last day of the year and has become one of the world's most recognised New Year's celebrations. The roots of Hogmanay date back to the celebration of the winter solstice, incorporating elements of the Gaelic celebration of Samhain. There are many customs, local and national, linked with Hogmanay. The most widespread is the practice of 'first-footing' which starts immediately after midnight. First-footing involves being the first person to cross the threshold of a friend or neighbour's home and giving symbolic gifts such as salt, coal, shortbread, whisky, and black bun (a rich fruit cake) to bring luck to the householder. This goes on throughout the early hours of the morning and into the next day, and can last well into mid-January. But it's not just about ancient traditions in Scotland. On New Year's Day a new custom has begun to take hold -- the Loony Dook. Since 1987, the brave (and the mad) have taken the plunge into the icy cold River Forth in South Queensferry, Edinburgh for a refreshing start to the year. A sure-fire way to get rid of a hangover, the event attracts thousands of 'Loonies,' spectators and swimmers alike.

  • Greece - While Christmas in Greece is a relatively solemn occasion, New Year's Day is filled with celebrations and gift giving. January 1 is the name day of Aghios Vassilis (St. Basil), the Greek Father Christmas, and many customs are based upon his arrival. On the morning of New Year's Eve, children go door-to-door and ask permission to sing kalanta (carols) to bring good wishes to their neighbors, announce the coming of Aghios Vassilis and bless the house. Later in the evening, families gather for a meal of roast lamb or pork and an extra place is set at the table for Aghios Vassilis. An onion is hung on the front door (alongside a pomegranate that has been hanging since Christmas) as a symbol of rebirth and growth. Around midnight the household lights are switched off and the family goes outside. One lucky person is given the pomegranate and smashes it against the door as the clock strikes midnight. As the New Year rolls in, Greek families all over the world cut into a cake -- the Vassilopita -- bearing the name of Aghios Vassilis. Each Vassilopita is baked with a coin or medallion hidden inside and whoever gets it will be rewarded with good fortune in the New Year.

  • Philippines - In the Philippines, New Year's Eve (Bisperas ng Bagong Taon) is a public holiday and people usually celebrate in the company of family and close friends -- but be warned; it can be a noisy time. Traditionally, most households host or attend a Media Noche (dinner party). Most Filipinos follow a set of traditions that include wearing clothes with dots (in the belief that circles attract money and fortune) and bright colors to show enthusiasm for the coming year. Throwing coins at the stroke of midnight is said to increase wealth as does serving circular shaped fruits and shaking of coins inside a metal can while walking around the house. Things really get loud as people make noises by blowing on cardboard or plastic horns (torotot) banging pots and pans, playing music, or lighting fireworks to scare away bad spirits.

Rounding off our list are the diverse New Year's traditions from the following destinations: Mexico; Italy; Chile; Japan and Wales. To read how these cultures will be ringing in 2013 and's complete list of Top 10 New Year's Traditions, visit

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