Throw things out the window
The above scene, from the 1988 Italian film "Cinema Paradiso," depicts what happens at midnight -- as pots, pans, and even furniture get flung out of windows by New Year's revelers. The act symbolizes casting away the old in favor of the new, letting go of past sorrows for a more hopeful time.
At least in one notoriously rough neighborhood of Johannesburg, residents adopted a conspicuously more dangerous version of this tradition. Some people living in Hillbrow, in the city's downtown, started chucking large appliances off balconies. According to Global Post, residents stockpiled items in the days ahead of New Year's Eve, including fridges, microwaves and old couches. In 2011, South African health authorities complained of gunfire and objects "often seen flying from high-rise buildings" and set about distributing first aid kits to beleaguered community members. (Perhaps don't try this one at home.)
Burn an effigy
Who needs firecrackers when you have the combustible representation of everything you loathe. An act popular in Latin America (the video above is shot in Argentina) and parts of the Mediterranean world, the effigies embody all the attendant afflictions and evils of the previous year.
Wear bright colored underwear
Another Latin American superstition advises the wearing of red and yellow-colored underwear: red if you hope to find love in the new year, and yellow if you're focused on prosperity. Does that mean orange for both?
Melt tin and then dunk into water
A Nordic tradition, most commonly associated with Finland, involves melting a tin horseshoe and pouring the molten liquid into cold water on New Year's Eve. The solidified shape that emerges, as well as the shadow it casts, will offer insight into your future year. There are a whole host on interpretations for what augurs well or poorly. Just make sure your tin oracle doesn't fall apart: that's definitely a bad sign.
Carry around an empty suitcase
It's a custom most prevalent in parts of South America and Mexico: some choose to carry an empty suitcase around the block in the hope of a year full of new adventures and pursuits.
Still practiced in Scotland, "first-footing" is the act of being the first in the foot in the door after midnight. It's a tradition meant to reassert the value of hospitality to friends and strangers alike. One custom, possibly dating back to the age of Viking settlement, holds that the most propitious "first-footer" should be a dark male bearing a symbolic gift of shortbread, whiskey or even a lump of coal.
Note: This post was previously posted for 2015.