Strange New Year’s traditions around the world

Unlike many holidays, where celebrants are bound by tradition or religion, New Year’s is a holiday that allows each individual to choose his own method of celebration. Some revelers will soak themselves in alcohol, boozing it up with copious bottles of champagne. Others choose to make the evening a quieter affair, settling in for a movie and an early night in bed.

However you personally choose to celebrate New Year’s 2009, people around the world certainly have some wacky ways that they choose to bring in their new year. MSNBC is reporting on some of the more interesting customs. Here’s a look at a few of the more curious:

  • South America – in countries like Brazil and Bolivia, it’s what’s inside that counts. Residents in cities such as Sao Paulo and La Paz ring in the New Year by donning brightly colored underpants. Those who choose red are hoping for an amorous year ahead, those with yellow wish for money. I guess this begs the question of how you tell who is wearing what color underwear. Perhaps that is best left unanswered…
  • Denmark – as if the effects of plentiful New Year’s alcohol were not disorienting enough, many Danish revelers leap off chairs at the stroke of midnight, hoping to banish bad spirits in the year ahead.
  • Philippines – New Year’s celebrations in places like Manila tend to be circular; Filipinos focus on all things round, consuming “round” fruits such as grapes and wearing clothing with round shapes like polka dots. The spherical theme is meant to remind celebrants of the “round” shape of coins and prosperity.
  • Spain – at the stroke of 12, Spaniards begin to consume 12 grapes, attempting to eat the whole bunch by the time the clock stops chiming.
  • Belarus – the new year in Belarus is all about getting hitched. Unmarried women compete at games of skill and chance to determine who will tie the knot in the coming months. One game involves setting piles of corn and a rooster before the potential brides-to-be – whichever pile the bird chooses apparently picks the lucky lady.

You can check out the full list of weird New Year’s traditions here.