Mummer’s the Word: Unusual New Year’s Eve Celebrations

By Audrey W. | Arcadia Staff
People have been coming up with creative ways to welcome the New Year for decades. While the holiday is often seen as an opportunity for a fresh start, with an inspiring set of goals and plans to accomplish in the New Year, stories of weird and wacky traditions to bring good luck and fortune are everywhere. Whether you consider yourself superstitious or not, odds are you’ve encountered some strange NYE traditions throughout the years.
New Year’s Eve is undoubtedly one of the biggest parties of the year. Most people celebrate by gathering together with a group of their closest friends and family drinking, toasting, and reminiscing on the past year. Television specials run across the globe as countries say goodbye to the old year and hello to the next 365 days. At midnight, people cheer, drink, and kiss. However, in some places around the world people throw furniture from their windows, jump into freezing water, and watch a peach drop from a skyscraper.

Here are 5 bizarre New Year’s Eve traditions you won’t forget.

A Philadelphia mummer.Philadelphia Mummers

If you’re looking for the oldest folk festival in the United States to ring in the new year, Philadelphia’s Mummers parade is your place. Every year hundreds of people flood the city streets with elaborate costumes, performance routines, and moveable scenery that they most likely spent the entire year creating. Local clubs can compete in one of four categories: comics, fancies, string bands, and fancy brigades, and tells the story of modern-day art, fashion, and freedom through their performances.

Throw Furniture Out the Window

This New Year’s Eve tradition invites its participants to begin the new year with a little decluttering. Pots, pans, chairs, and couches are just some of the items tossed from windows when the clock strikes midnight. The place most notorious for this yearly celebration is Johannesburg. Here, people have adopted a somewhat more extreme version of the tradition by heaving large appliances from their balconies. Residents stockpile items in the days leading up to NYE, and when midnight arrives, they and their party guests launch these from their windows. It would be wise to steer clear of the sidewalks if you find yourself somewhere this tradition in popular this New Year’s Eve.

Atlanta’s Peach Drop

Everyone has heard of the New York Times Square ball drop on New Year’s Eve, but what about Georgia’s Peach Drop? It’s Atlanta’s version of the renowned ball drop in Times Square.  Every year, over 100,000 people are drawn together to watch the beloved Georgia peach drop as they count down to ring in the New Year. The tradition dates back to 1989, and has grown exponentially in recent years. Performances fill the night leading up to the drop, with musicians like Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, Rozonda “Chili” Thomas, and Jeezy.

After nearly 30 years of being dropped from Underground Atlanta, the giant 800-lbs peach is being moved to the historic Flatiron Building. It’s the city’s oldest skyscraper, the first flatiron building in the country, and 120 years old. Admission is always free for visitors, who begin lining up as early as 5:30 PM. If you’re looking for a NYE celebration where the temperature is a little warmer and slightly smaller crowds, Atlanta’s Peach Drop might be your place to ring in the New Year.  

Colorful Underwear

Supposedly it matters what color of underwear you wear on New Year’s Eve. The future of your happiness and good fortune may very well depend on your undies in this wacky New Year’s Eve tradition. The idea is that the color one wears sends a message to the universe, and they are more likely to attain that thing over the course of the coming year. For example, red underwear guarantees a year filled with passion and romance. Yellow undies will bring you money and happiness, green for good luck, blue for good health, white for peace and joy, and pink for love. The legend also says to avoid black undies for these will bring a year of bad luck. It’s time to find your desired color of drawers and ring in the New Year. 

Rehoboth Beach's polar bear plunge.The Polar Bear Plunge

For a reason that remains unknown, leaping into bodies of freezing water remains the preferred choice of NYE celebrations by many. There are several countries around the world who partake in the annual Polar Bear Plunge tradition, but Canada is the most well-known. Every year, hundreds of people bravely gather on the shores of chilly bodies of water, preparing to launch themselves into the frozen waves. Vancouver’s annual Polar Bear Swim Club has been active since 1920 and sees anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 participants each year.

At the start of the New Year, you can frequently see pictures of people sliding down snowy hills while wearing only their bathing suits and trying not to slip on the ice. The tradition has become so popular that in recent years it has been adopted to raise money for various nonprofits and charities, making it one of the most widely used bizarre traditions to date.

New Year’s Eve is a night to remember no matter where you live. Now after reading some of these bizarre traditions from around the globe, its your turn to invite your party guests to maybe wear a certain color underwear or jump into a body of freezing water this NYE.