Drinking ashes and other unique ways world celebrates New Year | Inquirer News

Drinking ashes and other unique ways world celebrates New Year

By: - Content Researcher Writer / @inquirerdotnet
/ 12:28 PM December 31, 2021

FILE PHOTO. People celebrate on Dec. 31, 2019 as they watch the traditional New Year’s fireworks at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. PHOTO COURTESY OF AFP

MANILA, Philippines—It’s New Year and certainly, you already know what to do!

The Philippines has a lot of traditions to celebrate New Year with, but if you travel the world–online, at least—you will see weird yet exciting ways other countries say goodbye to the old year and welcome the new.


As the COVID-19 crisis continues to be a threat, these traditions might have been called off again, but it doesn’t mean zero excitement for New Year as there are still other things you can do.


READ: DOH again appeals for less dangerous New Year celebration

Graphic by Kurt Dela Peña

If you’re looking for ways to have a celebration filled with excitement, check this list of entirely strange yet senseful New Year traditions all over the world.

  • Sea of flowers and candles

Through the years, white flowers and candles were often related to death. However, in Brazil, it’s a way to celebrate New Year.

In Brazil’s New Year, this tradition was explained as a sign of giving Iemanja, a goddess in Brazilian myths, a gift.

Iemanja, the Culture Trip said, is the goddess of the sea who blesses fishermen. A “powerful” goddess, she is also a protector of women, children, family, and fertility.

It was said that people, especially those living near the sea, should light candles and send flowers to the sea on Jan. 1 or Dec. 31.

This tradition, which has religious significance, has been in existence even before Brazil adopted Christianity as its main religion.

  • Picking the ‘right’ potato

As Peru celebrates the New Year, potatoes aren’t for midnight meals—it helps people see the future.

The NBC News said potatoes have significance in Peru’s past and people’s livelihoods so it’s not shocking to see them as one of Peru’s New Year symbols.

It is said that on New Year’s Eve, people prepare three potatoes–one is peeled completely, one is left half-peeled, while the last is not–and placed below a sofa.

As the New Year begins, a person picks one potato with eyes closed.

The completely peeled potato signifies a bad financial year, the half-peeled means an “average” year, while the last signifies a great financial year.

  • New Year with the dead

While people often visit the dead on Nov. 1 and 2, All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, residents of Talca City in Chile also celebrate the New Year with the dead.

The Vintage News said people spend New Year’s Eve inside local graveyards to be with their deceased loved ones.

While this looks like a sad and heartbreaking tradition, especially for New Year, locals said the tradition makes the year great as the souls gain peace through the presence and prayers of the living.

It was said that this custom is a recent one since Chile started practicing this only in 1995, when a family crossed the fence of the cemetery to celebrate New Year with their deceased father.

Since this happened, graveyards in Chile were opened on New Year’s Eve and people were encouraged to bring goods for their loved ones and celebrate with them.

  • Breaking the plates

The Philippines often relates death and misfortune to broken glasses, but in Denmark, breaking plates on New Year’s Eve is a sign of love.

Best Life said people in Denmark take pride in piles of broken dishes seen outside the door by the end of New Year’s Eve celebrations.

It was said that breaking the plates by throwing them at your neighbor’s doors means affection while some say it signifies leaving “aggression and ill-will” behind.

When the celebrations end, people check the piles they got–when the pile you get is immense, it means the household will have a great year.

People heeding this tradition often use “already damaged” plates instead of new ones. Currently, some people “pre-break” the plates before bringing them to neighbors’ doors, according to World Mark.

  • Setting the ‘bad’ on fire

While effigies are often set on fire in protests, this practice has found its place in Ecuador’s New Year traditions.

The Woman’s World said this is like a kind of light show where residents set effigies of politicians and several icons on fire and leap over the fire 12 times–one for each month.

The tradition signifies burning the año viejo, the Spanish words for old year. These days, however, the tradition became lighter–the effigies are paraded while children set small masks on fire.

It was said that this tradition traces its roots to 1895, when the Yellow Fever, which swept Guayaquil, had people pack dead bodies inside coffins and burn them.

This, they said, was an act of cleansing.

  • Melting the lead

Germany has Bleigiessen as a tradition for New Year. This literally means “lead pouring,” a known Silvester heritage, the Alpine Village Center said.

It was said that on New Year’s Eve, relatives and friends gather, melt a small piece of lead through a spoon and a candle and drop the lead into cold water.

The shape of the cooled lead will tell what comes in the year.

This tradition of melting lead or wax, the German Way said, dates back to ancient times, when the Celts and the Romans engaged in this heritage, even the interpretation of the candlelight.

It was said that this tradition is observed in Germany, Finland, Bulgaria, Czechia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Turkey.

Here are some of the meanings of the shapes that the lead will possibly take:

  1. Eagle: You are ambitious since you want to fly
  2. Balloon: Free yourself
  3. Dome: Good days are in view
  4. Goose: Happiness is fragile
  5. Belt: Friendship becomes intimate
  • Drinking your wishes

The Russians gather on New Year’s Eve with drinks. It’s not a simple celebration, though.

They write down their wishes for the year on a piece of paper, roll them, set it on fire, gather the ashes, and mix it with their drinks.

As the clock strikes 12:01 a.m., they drink the champagne with ashes to literally “internalize” a longing for the wishes to come true, the Travel Magazine said.

  • Slicing the apple

The Fr. Meyer’s Son Logistics said that apples become the center of one of Czech Republic’s New Year traditions.

It was said that on New Year’s Eve, people slice an apple in half to know what comes with the year.

If the seeds form a cross, it signifies bad things while a star means a great year.

  • Armenia’s bread

Armenia has a lot of New Year traditions, but one stands out–the one which involves wheat breads.

The Levon Travel said since breads signify a request to pagan gods to send a “fertile” year, the mother bakes the bread for the family and hides a coin in the dough.

The bread is then divided into several slices and the rest of the family takes a slice, hoping to find the coin since a great year is waiting for the one who has it.

Armenians also believe that when baking bread for New Year’s Eve, a special ingredient should be mixed with the dough: one’s wishes for the year.

They also have “Tari Hats,” a kind of bread that is designed with images of animals and temples.

  • Sleeping on mistletoe

When the Irish celebrate New Year, the mistletoe is still part of the hype.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

The Irish Post said for individuals who are still single, a mistletoe should be placed below the pillow so that they would dream of their future husband or wife.

RELATED STORY: Weird and wonderful Christmas customs across the globe



TAGS: 2022, INQFocus, New Year, Traditions

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

© Copyright 1997-2023 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.