8 unusual New Year's Eve customs from around the world

A woman standing on top of a rock off Bikeman islet, Kiribati, in this May 25, 2013 file photo.
A woman standing on top of a rock off Bikeman islet, Kiribati, in this May 25, 2013 file photo. PHOTO: REUTERS

Before you dress up and head out for tonight's New Year revelries, here's a cool fact - at 6pm Singapore time, 2016 will already have dawned somewhere in the world. 

So who gets to celebrate it first? Samoa and the tiny Pacific island of Kiribati are among the first. With only a few thousand residents on Kiribati, and much of it protected nature sanctuaries, New Year’s Eve is a very intimate affair there. 

And 26 hours later, the remote Howland and Baker Islands in the US will finally welcome 2016 - at 8pm Singapore time on Jan 1. 

Popping champagne and watching fireworks after the countdown are a staple of many a New Year party, but some places celebrate in unusual ways. Here's a look at eight of them:

Grapes ready to be transported at a vineyard near Scaynes Hill, East Sussex, on Oct 12. PHOTO: AFP

1. In Spain, it is a custom to pop grapes into your mouth at midnight, one for each time the clock strikes. Twelve grapes symbolise good luck for each month of the new year. This is also practised in Latin America and the Philippines.

Red lingerie on display at OG Albert Complex. PHOTO: ST FILE

2. Some people in Spain and Latin America believe in wearing new underwear for the new year. Those looking for love will don red garments, while those hoping for wealth in the new year pick yellow.

 Lake Baikal in Siberia. PHOTO: ST FILE

3. In Siberia and Russia, it is tradition to dive into a frozen lake while holding a tree trunk. The "New Year's Tree" is then left under the ice.


4. In Russia, people write down a wish on a piece of paper, burn it, and throw the ashes into a glass of champagne. They must finish the drink within the first minute of the year.

5. In Mexico and Colombia, some start the new year by walking around their block with luggage. The ritual is performed in the hope of a year full of travels.

6. In Romania, farmers will attempt to hear their animals speak. If successful, it means they can expect a prosperous year ahead.

7. In South Africa, people throw old appliances out of their windows to the coming of a new year. It's for good luck, and also a pretty good excuse to buy new stuff. 

8. In Chile, some families choose to spend the night in a graveyard with their dead loved ones. This relatively new tradition started when a family broke into a graveyard to do that exact thing one New Year's Eve.