New Year’s Traditions Around the World

Like many holidays, New Year’s is celebrated differently around the world. In the spirit of the holiday, we thought we’d show you how some countries will say good-bye to 2015 and hello to 2016.

The United States

In the U.S., there are a variety of ways in which we celebrate New Year’s. Probably the most well-known tradition is to watch the ball drop in New York at midnight. Kissing someone at midnight is also a big tradition in the U.S.! In some parts of the U.S. (usually the South), many will eat black-eyed-peas on New Year’s Day as a means to bring luck into the new year.


When the clock strikes midnight in Spain on New Year’s Day, Spanish citizens have a handful of grapes. Why? With each strike of the clock – 12 in fact – Spanish citizens eat a grape. It’s a tradition that is supposed to bring luck into the new year. What a fun, delicious, and healthy way to get luck!

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is a big deal in China and many surrounding countries. It’s celebrated at the end of January or beginning of February. People clean their house out, get new haircuts, end arguments, and more to start the New Year’s right. Red is a lucky color so many people will wear it during the holiday. Dragons, an important symbol to Chinese people, will be seen everywhere. Many make dumplings on New Year’s Eve as a tradition to bring good fortune, and eat long noodles (though you musn’t cut those long noodles if you want a long life!). When coming together to celebrate the festivities, it is also common to give each other monetary gifts. In the U.S., the $2 bill is a lucky gift to give to others. The Lantern Festival is another big tradition during the Chinese New Year as it symbolizes the last day of the Chinese New Year. It involves displaying lanterns of all sizes and shapes, creating a beautiful and mesmerizing scene.


The New Year’s traditions in Romania would probably appeal to child or an adult’s inner child! People dress up in seemingly real bear costumes and dance to ward off evil spirits on New Year’s Eve. Check it out!

South Africa

In South Africa (and some parts of Italy), especially Johannesburg, people throw old furniture out of their windows for New Year’s! It’s a way to get rid of the old to bring in the new for the next year. If visiting during this time…watch your head!


The Thai New Year, known as the Songkran Festival, has to be one of the most fun traditions found across the world. Rather than celebrated on December 31st, the Thai New Year is celebrated in mid-April and involves water, lots of water! Before the Songkran Festival begins, everyone must clean their house completely to remove dirt and rubbish which might bring bad luck. Then comes the best part: the water fight. Water guns, water balloons, elephants that spout water, and garden hoses are all used to drench each other in water to celebrate the New Year, a means to cleanse and purify the body for the upcoming year. Talk about fun!


In Scotland, New Year’s is an extremely important holiday. The Scots call it “Hogmanay” and celebrate it over a course of many days. One of the most important traditions of the Scot’s Homgmanay is the practice of marching through the street swinging fire balls around their head. This dangerously amazing tradition brings cheers and applause to all that watch!


For New Year’s, Russians will write a wish on a piece of paper that they hope will come true for the coming year. After doing that, they burn the paper and place the ashes in a glass of champagne. They then must drink it before the clock strikes midnight so that their wish comes true!


New Years in the Philippines is loud to say the least! People there believe that making as much noise as possible will ward off evil spirits for the coming year. So expect fireworks, clanging of pots, music, cheers, and shouts if you visit the Philippines during their New Years.


It’s important to wear white in Brazil to bring luck for the New Year. Many Brazilians will also make their way to the beach to throw flowers into the ocean and make a wish. Some also head out at midnight to the ocean to jump over seven waves as a means to appease Lamanja or the diety of the sea.


In Greece, celebrating the New Year involves cake! Greeks will bake a St. Basil’s cake with a gold or silver coin inside. Whoever gets the cake slice with the coin will have really good luck the coming year. What a yummy and fun way to celebrate the holiday!

Underwear traditions

There were just too many of these not to have their own section. Apparently, underwear is a most important aspect of many New Year’s traditions around the world. Check out which country focuses on which color underwear on New Year’s Day in this video.

Check out this great infographic of other New Year’s traditions around the world!


Featured photo by: Flickr / John Shedrick

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