December is here and the new year is just around the corner. If you are thinking of traveling the world in the new year, there are some New Years traditions that you should be aware of. Champagne and fireworks are standard, however, every country carries its own New Years traditions and it doesn’t hurt to know them, especially if you are traveling.
It is standard to start the new year celebrations on 31st December, however, not all celebrate the new year the same way. The citizens of the United States know all the basic traditions that come with the new year like the ball drop at Times Square, countless fireworks, and sharing a kiss with a loved one as midnight strikes.
However, elsewhere around the globe new years traditions are very different. They can include everything from opening a fresh pomegranate to cleaning your house. In this article, we will talk about the New Years traditions of different countries. And also take a glimpse into the festivities and events that come with the new year.
New Years Traditions
New Years Traditions Around the World
1. New Years Traditions in Various Countries – Eating Lucky Foods
One of the New Years traditions that is observed by many countries around the world is sharing a meal with friends and family. In some places sharing a meal means eating specific lucky foods. In Portugal, Spain, and most parts of Latin America, the people welcome the new year by eating twelve grapes or raisins. Whereas in Italy people eat 12 spoonfuls of lentils, one spoon with each chime of the clock at midnight.
The French welcome the new year with a stack of pancakes, while Germans eat marzipan shaped like a pig to bring luck. On the other hand, the people of the Netherlands fest on donuts and other ring-shaped foods, while Estonians eat as many as 7, 9, and sometimes seven 12 times on the eve of the new year. According to Estonians, for each meal consumed the person gets the strength of that many men in the new year. In the U.S. South people consume black-eyed peas and collard green beans for prosperity and luck.
2. New Year Traditions of Scotland – Auld Lang Syne and Redding of the House
In the county of Scotland, Hogmanay is held at the end of the year as a New Year’s Eve party. The festivities of Hogmanay stand on the 30th of December and come to an end on New Year’s Day. Throughout Scotland, many variations of Hogmanay are celebrated. However, the most common tradition is that of first footing. First footing involves people being the first ones to pay a visit to neighbors and friends, with a symbolic gift in hand. Moreover, as the clock strikes midnight to welcome the new year, Scots gather to sing Auld Lang Syne.
One of the most important New Year’s Eve traditions that is observed in Scotland is the redding of the house which involves cleaning the house thoroughly from the cabinets to the front door. One place of the house that is focused on more during redding is the fireplace. People thoroughly clean their fireplace, removing all the old ashes, so that everyone in the house can have a fresh start in the new year.
If you are in Edinburgh around the new year you will come across processions throughout the city on December 30th involving drummers and pipers leading torch-wielding locals. The festivities of the new year come to an end on New Year’s Day, with a swim in the chilly waters of the Firth of Forth.
3. Philippines New Years Traditions – Consuming Round Fruits and Wearing Polka Dots
The Filipino community incorporates a lot of round things in their New Year’s traditions which include wearing polka dots. The people of the Philippines believe that wearing round shapes brings good luck and prosperity. Moreover, eating round fruits like lemon, watermelon, grapes, oranges, and pomelos is considered fortuitous. A fun New Year tradition for the kids involves them jumping as high as they can as soon as midnight hits. Filipinos believe that it will help them grow taller in the coming year.
4. Brazil New Years Traditions – Donning White When Jumping in the Ocean
Donning white on the eve of the new year has been a long-held tradition with roots in Africa. Brazil holds Festa de Lemanjá on New Year’s Eve. This festival celebrated the goddess of the sea called Lemanjá. The climax of the event is when the people of Brazil, dressed in white run into the water when midnight strikes to jump over seven waves. Each wave and jump signify a different request the person is making to a different god or orixá.
5. Mexico New Years Tradition – Walking with an Empty Suitcase in Hand
This is one tradition that all of us travelers and voyagers can get behind. In Mexico, one of New years tradition is that people, on New Year’s Eve walks around with an empty suitcase to help ring in a year filled with new experiences as well as travel. Several Latin American countries celebrate this tradition, some instead of walking around the neighborhood with an empty suitcase, prefer to walk in the middle of the room. Whereas, the more daunting ones take a full lap around the block carrying their empty suitcase.
6. Cuba New Year Tradition – Throwing a Bucket Full of Water Out the Front Door
In Cuba, people symbolically gather all the negative energy and the bad spirits from the past year in a bucket and toss its contents out the front door. When in Cuba around New Year, it is not uncommon to see buckets of dirty water flying out of the front doors of houses as the time nears midnight. Therefore, when strolling the streets of Cuba around midnight on New Year’s Eve, watch out for dirty water flying out of houses.
7. Greece New Years Tradition – Hanging and Smashing Pomegranates
One of the New Year’s traditions in Greek called Podariko translates to good foot. The custom aims to bring in luck at the start of the new year. Before the holiday starts, households in Greece hang pomegranates from their doors as a sign of luck, fertility, and prosperity. Then, when New Year’s Eve rolls around, just before midnight people turn off the lights, and leave the house so they can send a lucky individual to renter the house, right foot first.
When the custom is done correctly, it brings good fortune and prosperity to the family for the new year. Afterward, a second person will take the hanging pomegranate and smash it against the door in order to see how much luck they will receive. The more juicy seeds that spill out, the more luck will enter the household.
8. Germany New Years Traditions – Melting Lead in Order to Divine the Future
In German-speaking Europe as well as Czechia, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Finland, it is one of the New Years traditions to melt small pieces of lead and then cast them in cold water/ afterwards people make predictions for the new year on the basis of the shape that the lead forms. As the new year is right around the corner, these days German-speaking countries are selling kits that include tin figurines people can melt.
9. Russia New Years Traditions – 12 Seconds of Silence Before Midnight Strikes
During the hours leading up to midnight, Russians say thank you to the past year and remember the most important events that occurred in the past year. In the last 12 seconds, they maintain silence to make wishes.
10. Spain New Years Traditions – Searching for the Man with Many Noses
In northern Spain lies a region called Catalonia where a special character appears on the last day of the year. The character is known as the man with many noses or L’home dels nassos. People there believe that this man has as many oases as there are days left in the year and grant wishes if they can find him. According to this Spanish tradition, children are usually encouraged to seek him out. However, they don’t realize that on the last day of the year, L’home dels Nassos is just like everyone else and has only one nose left which makes it difficult to spot him.
11. Denmark New Years Traditions – Literally Jumping into the New Year
It is one of the New Years traditions in Denmark, where people jump off a chair or sofa, literally jumping into the New Year. It is seen as good luck if you do it, however, for those who don’t, bad luck awaits in the new year. Therefore, if you are traveling to Denmark around the new year make sure to take a leak into 2024 at midnight.
12. Ireland New Years Traditions – Setting an Extra Place at the Dining Table
The people of Ireland engage in several New Years traditions like banging the outside walls of their houses with bread in order to keep evil spirits and bad luck away and starting the year with a fleshly cleaned and spotless house. However, one tradition that almost everyone in Ireland observes involves setting an additional plate at the dining table for the loved ones lost in the previous year.
13. New Years Traditions in Italy and Spain – Wearing Red Underwear
When the new year approaches both Spaniards and Italians wear red underwear to welcome good luck. The Spaniards insist that the red underwear has to be a brand new one in order to be lucky. Whereas, on the other hand, the Italians take things a tad bit further by throwing old items out of the window in order to symbolize the welcoming of new things with the new year.
14. Japan New Years Traditions – Visiting Temples for Lucky Charms
The New Years traditions in Japan are wholesome, to say the least. Shōgatsu or new year is mostly celebrated by visiting the local temple where the people exchange last year’s lucky charms known as omamori for new ones. Once that’s done, people of Japan feast on traditional New Year’s food like herring roe which boosts fertility, and prawns which are believed to bring the devourer a long life.
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