New Year traditions around the globe

New Year traditions around the globe

Check out the fascinating, fun and unique ways other cultures celebrate New Year


People across the world may disagree about many things all year long but on New Year’s, everyone wants the same three things: health, wealth and good luck. Not forgetting a great party of course.

Hit the streets

The island nation of Samoa is one of the first to welcome the New Year. People crowd into the capital, Apia, to be photographed at midnight standing in front of the town clock, clapping and cheering.

Worldwide, people congregate outside and no one does it better than New Yorkers. Thousands gather in Times Square to count down the hours till twelve. There’ll be confetti, kissing, and (often tuneless!) rounds of “Auld Lang Syne.” It’s such an iconic event that many kids’ first memories of New Year are waiting for the “ball drop” on TV.

Special food

Austrians sip a punch of cinnamon, sugar and red wine and eat roast pig, which represents good luck.

In Brazil, the lentil symbolizes wealth so they’ll serve lentil soup and rice.

Thais eat a special pudding of mung beans and rice followed by watermelon, which is considered lucky because the flesh is red, the colour of luck in many cultures.

Portugal and Spain incorporate the number twelve in their traditions. The Spanish eat twelve grapes at midnight and the Portuguese eat raisins to signify good luck for each month of the year.

If you’re hosting a New Year party of your own, don’t miss make a party buffet in 60 minutes

Good luck coins

When Armenians prepare their flat bread, called Darin, they knead the dough with “good wishes” and hide a coin inside. The Mexicans do the same with their sweetbread. In both cultures, the person who finds the coin will be blessed with luck in the coming year.

In Romania, they’ll toss spare coins into the river to ensure their good fortune.

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Fire and water

Fireworks will be exploding all over the globe and the Chinese, famous for their displays, put on a spectacular show in Beijing.

In Ecuador, you’ll find the citizens burning scarecrows and old photographs to promote good luck.

Conversely, Puerto Ricans throw water out the window to scare away the evil spirits.

In India, little oil lamps known as diwa glow in houses, temples and along garden paths. In the cities, strings of electric lights illuminate the buildings. Indians will make resolutions, pay their debts, and honour Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and good fortune.

Clean house

The Japanese and the Thais both believe in thoroughly cleaning their homes before the New Year. (If you feel suitably inspired – but perhaps a little more lazy! – don’t miss our headline house clean which will help you get maximum results with minimum effort.

The Thais also believe it’s important to pay off their debts. The Japanese will drape straw across the door for prosperity whereas in Korea, straw or rakes across the door ward off evil spirits. The Japanese smile at the stroke of midnight for good luck and, in a Buddhist tradition, they ring bells 108 times.

Everything round

Filipinos wear bright new clothes with circular patterns in the belief that circles attract money and good luck. They put coins in their pockets and vendors will display food in round shapes: stacks of melons or sliced fresh mango and bananas.

Finally, why not join the Danish and climb onto a chair to literally “jump” into the New Year?

With all these similarities, if the world celebrated every day like New Year’s, we’d probably have more consensus—and more good luck.

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