Six Ways the World Ushers in the New Year

By Kristen Rodman, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
December 31, 2013; 10:10 PM ET
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While New York City's New Year's Eve ball drop may be the most popular way to ring in the new year in the United States, many other countries around the world have their own unique customs to welcome 2014.

From Japan to Scandinavia, below is a list of our top six most distinctively different New Year's traditions from around the globe.

1. The Okera-Mairi Festival

Beginning on New Year's Eve at the Yasaka-jinja Shrine in Kyoto, Japan, this ritual, known as the Okera-Mairi festival, is a cultural norm for the city's new year commemoration. Two fires are lit in separate parts of the shrine and city residents then stop by to take some of the fire's embers. These embers are then brought home and used to start a fire in order to cook zoni, a soup-like customary Japanese meal. This process is supposed to bring a year of peace to the family, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.

2. Hogmanay

Edinburgh's Hogmanay Street Party (Photo Credit: Chris Watt)

The premiere New Year's event in Edinburgh, Scotland, known as Hogmanay, this all night celebration brought more than 800,000 into the heart of the city just last year, according to the event's website. Expecting an even larger crowd this year, the street party will feature multiple fireworks shows, a torchlight procession, the annual river splash, carnival rides and music concerts featuring some of the year's most popular artists including, Django Django, as well as traditional Scottish music. Hogmanay is also celebrated in some of Scotland's other large cities such as Glasgow and Aberdeen.

3. A New Year's Verse

This annual New Year's Eve tradition has been in place for years in Stockholm, Sweden. One the eve of the celebration at the Skansen Open-Air Museum in the city, "Ring Out, Wild Bells," a poem written by British poet Lord Alfred Tennyson, is read out loud and broadcasted live throughout the country. This poem was written back in 1850 and is still read every New Year's Eve right before midnight in Sweden's capital and preceded by chiming bells and an elaborate fireworks display.

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4. Muneco Burning

Reyes Jiancarlos prods a fireworks-filled effigy in the likeness of Colombian businessman David Murcia Guzman on new year's eve near Chame, Panama, late Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2008. (AP Photo/Sky Gilbar)

Munecos, doll-like figures, statues or scarecrows, also known as effigies, are made throughout Panama to mimic the year's most well-known people. Put on display after the Christmas holiday, these effigies are then burned on New Year's Eve. These munecos typically portray the country's celebrities, politicians and athletes.

5. Window Tossing

In the suburbs town of Hillbrown in Johannesburg, South Africa, this dangerous New Year's tradition involves literally throwing kitchen utilities out the window and onto the streets below. Objects usually thrown out include everything from refrigerators to microwaves, ovens, beds and garbage bins. However, tosses this year may have severe consequences, according to a BBC News article. The article reports that this year the South African police force plans to raid buildings participating in the tossing festivities. Additionally, armored vehicles and paramedics will be deployed and on-demand to deal with potential injuries.

6. Yemanja

Faithful push a boat filled with flowers into the waters of Copacabana beach as an offering for Yemanja, goddess of the sea, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday Dec. 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)

On New Year's Eve, residents of Rio de Janeiro and other parts of Brazil will send flowers out to sea in honor on the Sea Goddess Yemanja. Following the holiday, Feb. 2, 2014, will bring another type of celebration as people throughout the country flock to the beaches to pay their respects to the goddess and give peace offerings. Many will send flowers, perfumes and other gifts out into the ocean in baskets or boats as presents to the goddess and requests for protection from the sea in the coming year, according to the government's website. After the gifts given, fireworks will then conclude the night.


Have questions, comments, or a story to share? Email Kristen Rodman at Kristen.Rodman@accuweather.com, follow her on Twitter @Accu_Kristen or Google+. Follow us @breakingweather, or on Facebook and Google+.

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