New Year’s Celebrations Around the World

After much research and help from my travel friends…..

Here are a few of the unique ways that others celebrate the New Year:

Ireland-One Irish custom that is to take a large loaf of Christmas bread or cake outside the house and hammer it against the closed doors and windows.  This is done to drive out any misfortune and let happiness in. (Thank you to Andrew,  the Brooklyn Nomad for sharing this family tradition.)

Ecuador-Effigies, typically made of old clothes and stuffed with sawdust and firecrackers,  are burned in New Year’s bonfires. The effigies heads are typically made of paper and shaped to look like celebrities, politicians, and others in representation of the old year. These effigies are then burnt, which is said to drive away evil spirits.

Finland-Folks predict their fortunes for the coming year by casting molten tin into a container of water and interpreting the shape the metal takes after it hardens. A heart or ring shape means a wedding, a ship signifies travel, and a pig means lots of good food.

Hungary-Similarly to Ecuador, in Hungary, they burn effigies or a scapegoat known as, “Jack Straw,” which represents the evil and misfortunes of the past year.  Jack Straw is carried around the village before being burnt on the Eve of the New Year. On the New Year morning, people eat cabbage soup and roasted pig. It is said that both are meant to bring good luck for the coming year.

Philipines-Round shapes, which represent coins, symbolize prosperity. In Filipino homes, there are heaps of round fruits on tables. In Fact, some folks eat precisely a dozen fruits at midnight. Also, Polka dots are thought to bring good luck, being round and all, and are quite prominent. People also make loud noises by blowing on cardboard or plastic horns, banging on pots and pans, or by igniting firecrackers at the stroke of midnight, in the belief that it scares away evil spirits and forces.

Belarus-Unmarried women play games to predict who will get hitched in the new year. In one game a pile of corn is put in front of each woman and a rooster is let loose. Whatever pile he approaches first shows which woman will be the first to marry.

Denmark-Old dishes are saved all year to throw them at the homes where their friends live on New Year’s Eve. It is a good sign to find your door heaped with a pile of broken dishes as it is a symbol that you have many friends.

Portugal-Like their Iberian neighbors, the Portuguese pick and eat twelve grapes from a bunch as the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve. This is done to ensure twelve happy months in the coming year.

Scotland-On what they call Hogmanay, “First footing” (the first foot or visitor in the house after midnight) is still common in Scotland for New Year’s celebration. To ensure good luck for the house, the first foot should bring symbolic coal, shortbread, and/or whisky.

Japan-New Year’s Day, a symbol of renewal, is one of the most important holidays in Japan.  At midnight on December 31st, the Buddhist temples strike their gongs 108 times in order to dismiss 108 different types of human weaknesses. New Year’s Day itself is a day of joy in which no work is to be done. The children receive small gifts with money inside known as ‘otoshidamas‘.

Mexico-Mexicans, not unlike the Spanish or Portuguese, down a grape with each of the twelve chimes of the clock during the New Year’s countdown, while making a wish with each one. On New Year’s Eve, those who want to find love in the new year wear red underwear and yellow if they want money. Other traditions include sweeping the dirt out and taking luggage outside as a symbol of future trips. (Thank you for your tips on the 12 grapes, TransAmericas!)

Italy-Similarly to some of the countries mentioned above such as Mexico, red underwear as a New Year’s symbol of good luck for the coming year. From Traveling Anna, I received good inside “la famiglia” information on “Il Capodanno,” or New Year’s in Italy. Anna added that La Festa di San Silvestro, 12/31, is a huge feast with beans and pork, sometimes even pigs head, which mean good luck and money in the New Year. For a complete guide to Celebrate New Year’s in Italy, here is a list of the top ten ways to celebrate New Year’s in Italy from Travel with Julie. (Grazie Anna and Julie).

In order to capture the many other New Year’s traditions from around the world, some research and assistance was needed.  I must thank my many travel friends, peers, and bloggers who added their traditions. Thanks to:

JourneyWomanBrooklynNomad,

TransAmericasTravelDesigned,

TravelwithJulie, and TravelingAnna.

Did we miss any? I invite you to share other traditions that you know of OR how you are celebrating this year.

11 Comments

  1. […] what is happening at Chez Ms Traveling Pants, I wanted to capture the many other New Year’s traditions from around the world. In order to do so, some research and assistance was needed.  I must thank my many travel friends, […]

  2. ChrisSummer says:

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  3. Shannon OD says:

    What a neat idea! I really enjoyed reading these different traditions! 🙂 I really like Denmark – that sounds like crazy fun!

    • MsTravelingPants says:

      I think the plate idea is great. I just was informed that also in Italy they tend to throw an old item out the window to signify out with the old and in with the new. Plates are also used for this. Wonderful traditions.

  4. ennasnosrap says:

    Hub and I were once in Quito, Ecuador, for New Year’s. Saw the incredible effigies on display through the streets during the day, then locked ourselves into our B&B for New Year’s Eve night on advice of hosts, listening to gunshots and yelling late into night – very wild West!

    • MsTravelingPants says:

      It is great to hear first hand stories of these. I look forward to experiencing these and more. Happy New Year!

  5. Mack says:

    Very nice article. New Year has come so close to everyone. New Year event encloses every person’s heart with great amount of happiness, joyness. Every corner of the world celebrate mesmerizing event like Sparkling fireworks, good greetings, non-stop partying, electrifying music etc. Here are top ten spots of the world such as New York City, Sydney, London, Paris, Ko Phanagn Thailand, Kiribati, Tokyo, Las Vegas, Boston. How they celebrate new year to see refer http://www.travelworth.com/ring-new-year-in-best-spots-of-the-world.html

  6. In Italy we also have the tradition of breaking or throwing something old out the window (like a plate). It is not so common in urban areas anymore, but it is still fairly common in southern Italy – I once saw a guy throw an old washing machine off of his balcony in Taranto…! It said to represent the desire to get rid of old problem and welcome new chances into our lives!

    • MsTravelingPants says:

      I think that this is an excellent way to start a fresh. So the list is becoming quite endless: throw a plate out the window (like in Italy), throw one on your friends door (like in Denmark), wear red undies (like in Italy), eat 12 grapes (like in Spain, Portugal, Mexico, and others), wearing white (like in Brazil), or wearing Polkadots (like in the Philippines).

  7. Belinda says:

    It’s interesting to learn about other new year customs, I like the Italian good-luck red underwear tradition; I might do that now too just in case it does bring good luck. In Australia we don’t really have any specific traditions except for elaborate fireworks displays, we love a firecracker! Drinking too generally works well to bring in the new year, but that’s very global I’d say. Cheers to the new year! 🙂

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