New Year’s Traditions Around the World

New Year’s traditions vary wildly from culture to culture, although almost all include the Three F’s: food, fun and fireworks. Oh, yeah, and ways to assure good luck in the coming year. Whatever your traditions, may your New Year (and decade) be blessed. Because blessings beat luck hands-down! Don’t miss the summary of unusual traditions below.

(Click on any image to enlarge it, or to begin slide show)

  • South Africans party all night into New Year’s Day. When the church bell chimes at midnight, everyone cheers and many throw refrigerators from balconies!
  • Brazilians eat seven pomegranate seeds to assure wealth and seven grapes to assure abundance in everything else. Wearing red underwear also helps!
  • Siberians plant volkas, New Year’s Trees, under frozen lakes, symbolizing the coming of Father Frost, and the promise of a new life.
  • In Denmark, friends and relatives jump off chairs and break dishes on doorsteps. The bigger the pile, the more friends and happiness you’ll have in the coming year.
  • Chileans eat three spoonfuls of lentils: one for love, one for health, and one for wealth. They also place a luca (1000 peso note) in their right shoe to multiply wealth in the coming year.
  • The Chinese, once plagued by a hungry monster called Nian, make loud noises and decorate things in red to scare it away. Nian is now the word for “year.” Oh, and there are dragons, can’t forget the dragons.
  • In Netherlands on New Year’s Eve, Oudejaarslot, people buy lottery tickets and munch oliebol, Dutch doughnuts, at oliebollenkraam stands while waiting for the jackpot to be announced.
  • Ecuadorians and Columbians burn scarecrows at midnight. Columbians also place three potatoes under their beds: one peeled, one unpeeled, and one half-peeled. When the clock strikes midnight, they reach under and grab one. A peeled potato means money problems, unpeeled means abundance, and half-peeled means “who knows.”
  • The Spanish eat Twelve Grapes at Midnight. If they can eat all 12 in 12 seconds, they’ll have 12 months of good luck.
  • The Irish bang bread against their walls on New Year’s Eve to chase away evil spirits and attract good luck.
  • Peruvians celebrate (?) the New Year at the annual Takanakuy Festival by beating each other up!
  • The Swiss toast the new year with ice cream cones, then drop them on the ground at midnight, guaranteeing abundance—and more ice cream—in the coming year!
  • USA: the famous Times Square ball drop began when fireworks were outlawed in 1907. Also, many African-Americans eat black-eyed peas and collard greens to assure happiness in the coming year.
  • In Haiti, joumou, a pumpkin soup once forbidden to slaves, is eaten in honor of the independence they fought for and won in 1804.
  • In the Philippines, round is the ticket: Round fruits are eaten, balls and coins are handed out, and polka-dotted clothes are worn for luck.
  • The Scottish New Year, Hogmanay, involves lots of Vikings with torches, lots parties with haggis, and other actually edible things. The first party guest to arrive gets cakes or, better yet, a bottle of Scotch!
  • Ethiopians, far more soberly celebrate Enkutatash, the Coptic Christian New Year, with worship, processions and feasts, and end with torch-burning and hymn-singing on New Year’s Eve.

Whatever your tradition…

Happy New Year!

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
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44 Responses to New Year’s Traditions Around the World

  1. Eliza Ayres says:

    Reblogged this on Blue Dragon Journal.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very interesting! Happy New Year Mitch!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I vote to adopt the Swiss tradition. More ice cream! Happy New Year, Mitch!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Texans eat blackeyed peas and cornbread for luck on New Year’s Day. If you go to a restaurant, that’s all they serve.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. smzang says:

    Happy New Year!
    I want to know more about that refrigerator tradition.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mitchteemley says:

      Don’t know where it comes from. Apparently some people toss TVs or pieces of furniture, as well. Confidence they’ll have better things in the New Year ahead, maybe?

      Liked by 1 person

      • smzang says:

        I found a ‘chat’ page devoted to the topic. Not only that if they don’t have a spare fridge to toss, they use sofas, chairs, and other appliances. There are several listings of police warnings to not take part in such festivities. I still like the grapes better. They look just scrumptious.

        Liked by 1 person

      • smzang says:

        I was so excited at finding an article, I blubbered on without realizing you’d said the same thing. Let’s hope for that maybe!!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Mary Sweeney says:

    Happy New Year, Mitch!
    Thanks for all your wisdom and laughs throughout the year. I don’t always comment but I do read your posts. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: New Year’s Traditions Around the World — Mitch Teemley | Ups and Downs of Family History V2.0

  8. Great compilation, Mitch. A most healthy and prosperous 2020 to you and family!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Megan says:

    Happy New Year! Great post! We homeschool and I used this in our geography lesson today 🙂 Thanks!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Happy healthy new year

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Happy New Year! In Swiss,West Virginia it’s becoming a tradition to kick back the recliner and enjoy the New Year with my wife and doggy.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. dovalpage says:

    Lovely! Happy 2020! In Cuba we throw a bucket of water to the street to get rid of “the bed stuff” from the previous one.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Terese says:

    Thanks for sharing this extensive and informative research. Happy New Year!🎉🎊

    Liked by 1 person

  14. It is not only African-Americans who eat black-eyed peas etc. It is a tradition in the south to eat “hoppin john” which is a dish made of black-eyed peas, rice, ham and spices. Along with collards a typical southern New Year’s fare. It is supposed to bring luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Heidi Viars says:

    Happy New Year, Mitch. Thanks for being such an encouragement!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. K McVere LLC says:

    Happy New Year, Mitch. And many many more.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. gregoryjoel says:

    In just a couple of hours our New Year’s Day lunch will include lots and lots of Black-Eyed Peas and cornbread. I had a friend from up north say Black-Eyed Peas are what they fed the cows (He’d never celebrated New Year’s in the south). Perhaps that’s why he had a growing herd every year…
    It was also Watch Night last night, an important tradition in the African-American community. I hope you all have a wonderful New Year (with or without peas…) !

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Eliza says:

    Happy new year! May this year and decade bring awesome things your way – peace, connection, joy…
    Love, light and glitter

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Ann Coleman says:

    Happy New Year, Mitch!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Kathy says:

    My daughter-in-law introduced me to the Dutch oliebol! Yummy!

    Liked by 1 person

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