Our New Year’s Eve celebrations are usually timid affairs, with little more than overpriced fireworks and flowing champagne to keep us happy. Compared with some other countries in the world, in fact, they’re downright lame.
The following countries on this list all have rather peculiar ways of welcoming in the New Year, from fist fights through to dancing bears and “communicating” with animals.
Check out the 10 weirdest New Year’s Eve traditions from around the world in the gallery below:
The Weirdest New Year's Eve Traditions From Around the World
Sleeping with the Dead - Chile
In the small town of Talca, Chile, locals celebrate the dawning of the New Year by sleeping in a graveyard, surrounded by their deceased loved ones. Considering how morbid this tradition seemingly is, it surprisingly started relatively recently - in 1995 it was reported that a family jumped over the cemetery gates in order to celebrate New Year's Eve with their dead father.
Since then, locals have flocked to the graveyard in the town, with it estimated that 5,000 people take part in the tradition every year in Talca.
Smashing Plates - Denmark
Denmark's tradition of smashing plates seems to be more of a popularity contest than it is a way to welcome in the New Year.
The tradition goes that the Danish celebrate by smashing their crockery against the doors of their neighbors, with the most popular neighbors having the most broken plates left on their doorstep. In other words, there's an awful lot of cleaning to be done in Denmark every January 1st.
Talking to Animals - Romania
Every New Year's Eve in Romania farmers attempt to communicate with their livestock, in a tradition that, if successful, will bring them good fortune the following year.
We can imagine the success rate of this ritual is very low, though when we've been drunk on New Year's Eve we've attempted to hold a lengthy conversation with our dog, so who are we to judge?
Eating Too Much - Estonia
Estonians must suffer from terrible indigestion on January 1st, as it is tradition in the country to eat seven meals (that's right,
seven meals) on New Year's Eve in order to ensure abundance throughout the following year.
By abundance, we think they actually mean "several trips to the toilet."
Burning Celebrity Effigies - Panama
It must be terrifying to be a celebrity in Panama on New Year's Eve, as it is customary for the locals to burn effigies of famous faces which is somehow intended to grant the locals good luck throughout the New Year.
Essentially, Panama is turned into a large-scale recreation of The Wicker Man every December 31st.
Bear Dancing - Romania
Romania's at it again with another strange tradition.
Along with farmers attempting to talk to their animals, another ritual for Romanians to partake in on New Year's Eve involves them wearing bear costumes (or, if they're feeling less in the mood, brightly colored clothing), traveling to different houses and dancing in order to ward off evil demons.
Not only does this tradition help to fend off those pesky demons, but it also earns the street performers a bit of money, as tourists and locals alike express their gratitude for their community service by throwing cash at them.
Balls of Fire - Scotland
As part of Scotland's Hogmanay celebrations (though its roots actually date back to as early as the Vikings), the Scottish don their kilts and storm the streets, swinging great big balls of fire around their heads.
Potentially a little more dangerous than a few of the other traditions featured in this list, it's certainly more visually impressive than, say, smashing plates off your neighbor's door.
Throwing Furniture - South Africa
This tradition upheld in some parts of South Africa is actually forbade by law (the accompanying image depicts police attempting to prevent citizens from throwing their furniture out of the window), but it's still one that some continue to practice.
Although the tradition states that it's a way of locals saying "out with the old, in with the new," in actuality it seems like it's more or less a way of getting rid of old, broken furniture without having to pay someone to come and move it.
Underwater Tree Planting - Siberia
A sign of peace for the New Year, in Siberia trees are planted in freezing cold water on New Year's Eve.
Given the obvious health and safety risks that come with this tradition, only professional divers take part in this ritual.
Beating Each Other Up - Peru
Though celebrated on December 25th and not New Year's Eve, the Takanakuy fighting festival is used as an opportunity for conflicts that have arose throughout the year to finally be settled - by locals punching each other.
This festival can include men, women and children, with citizens going at it in a brawl to settle scores and see in the New Year with a clean slate.
We'll still to our annual countdown and glass of champagne, thanks.