New year traditions from all over the world

Every country has its own New Year traditions. Some are unique and some are strange; yet, all are equally interesting and fun to do. Here are some finds we’d love to share…

Every country has its own New Year traditions. Some are unique and some are strange; yet, all are equally interesting and fun to do.

Here are some finds we’d love to share…


People in Brazil, specifically in Rio de Janeiro, wear white.  Some may mix their clothing with other solid colors while others wear colorful underwear.

In Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, faithful devotees celebrate the Iemanja Festival.  Iemanja or Yemanja is the African sea goddess to whom offerings, usually fruits and flowers, are tossed into or left by the water.

Right after New Year’s Eve, some will tread the waters and jump over seven waves to invoke Iemanja’s power. Seven is the lucky number that will bring good fortune for the whole year.  They will eat 7 grapes or chew 7 pomegranates.


Belgian farmers take their livestock seriously. They wish their cows a happy new year.


Some Bolivians bake their coins into sweets and whoever finds those has good luck for the next year.


Families in Chile spend the night in the company of their deceased loved ones by sleeping at the cemetery.


Colombians eat 12 grapes – sometimes 6 green and 6 red – at the stroke of midnight.  Traditionally, the church bells ring 12 times at the stroke of New Year’s eve and believers take one grape each time as they make a wish.

They also wear new yellow underwear to ring in good luck, love and happiness.  Before midnight, wear it inside out and then reverse it as soon as the clock strikes.  It is said that it will be better if someone gifts that to you.

They also take their suitcase around to block to ensure lots of traveling for the whole year, fill their pockets with lentils for abundance, clean and dust off their houses to get rid of bad energy and bad memories.

They also keep cash in hand and all things they want for the new year, put the right foot forward and burn the “old man”.


The Danish people ring in their New Year in a rather unique way by throwing old plates against the doors of their family and friends.  This is believed to banish bad spirits.  The more shattered plates by your front door means the more friends you have and the more good luck to come to you for the whole year.  

Danes also jump off chairs at midnight to “leap” into January in hopes of good luck.


Estonia is all about eating the New Year’s traditions food. People eat seven times on new years day to ensure abundance in the new year.


New Year tradition in Ecuador has some similarities with Colombia.  Both peoples eat 12 grapes at midnight, carry suitcases and burn some “años viejo” monigotes or old-year stuffed dolls.  They also wear yellow underwear for prosperity; and/or red for love luck.

What is different are the “viudas”, which literally means widows.  These are men who cross-dress, representing the burned man’s widow, and loiter to beg for money.


Finns like to predict during the New Year.  They cast molten tin into cold water and watch the new form it takes.  The shape is then interpreted as that person’s future. If the cast breaks, it is a sign of bad luck.


In Greece during New Year’s Eve, an onion is traditionally hung on the front door of homes. This is a symbol of rebirth. On New Year’s Day, parents wake their children by tapping them on the head with the onion.


In Ireland, they hit the walls with bread to get rid of evil spirits.


Japanese people ring all of their bells 108 times in line with the Buddhist belief that it brings cleanliness. It is also considered good when you smile as you approach the New Year. This is believed to bring good luck.


Filipinos surround themselves with round objects during the New Year. Round, as the shape of a coin, symbolizes prosperity and to have those objects – flat or spherical – will give you money luck for the whole year.

You’ll also find 12 assorted round fruits on dining tables. Many Pinoys also wear polka dots for luck on New Year’s eve and the following days.


In Spain, they traditionally eat 12 grapes – one at each stroke of the clock at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Each grape represents good luck for one month of the coming year. In bigger cities like Madrid and Barcelona, people gather in main squares to eat their grapes together and pass around bottles of cava.


Some Swiss believers celebrate the New Year by dropping ice cream on the floor.


Besides throwing buckets of water on each other in Thailand, they also go around smearing each other with gray talc.


To drive off evil spirits for a fresh New Year’s start, it is tradition to burn muñecos or effigies of well-known people, such as television characters and Panamanian political figures. Those effigies represent the old year.


Just like in Belgium, Romanian farmers try to communicate with their cows. “If they succeed”, it means good luck for the year.


In Siberia, some brave souls jump into frozen lakes carrying tree trunks.


New Year’s Eve celebration in Hogmanay, Scotland, is celebrated by “first-footing”. With this countrywide tradition, the first person who crosses a threshold of a home in the new year should carry a gift for luck. Scottish people also hold bonfire ceremonies in which they parade while swinging giant fireballs on poles. These fireballs, a symbol of the sun, is believed to purify the new year.

South Africa

In some parts of South Africa, they throw old furniture out the window.

United States of America

Americans sing the Auld Lang Syne and eat black-eyed peas for good luck.

Now, the above mentioned New Year customs and traditions are all I was able to find. If I missed your country, please feel free to let me know.

Thanks and have a prosperous new year!

Brazilians celebrate goddess of the sea.  Retrieved from
Browning, D. (2014, December 29). 5 Brazilian new year’s eve traditions and 2 good luck cocktails [Blog post]. Retrieved from
Grimond, G. (2017, July 4). Brazil’s goddess of the sea: Everything you need to know about festival of Iemanjá. Retrieved from
Giles, P. (2013, December 30). The 7 best Colombian new year’s traditions [Blog post]. Retrieved from
Bell, C. (2017, October 26). The 11 strangest Colombian new year traditions. Retrieved from
Poole, P. M. (2017, October 4). Agüeros: Colombian new year’s traditions. Retrieved from
Jessamyn. (2012). Ecuador new years eve [Blog post]. Retrieved from
Snyder, R. New year begins boisterously in Finland. Retrieved from
Chrysopoulos, C. (2014, December 31). Pomegranates, onions and other Greek new year’s eve customs. Retrieved from
Pegg D. (2017, November 21) 25 strangest new year’s traditions from around the world. Retrieved from ,∂ , and

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