New Year’s Traditions from Around the World

Dec 15, 2020

By: Felecia Chatman

New Year’s Day might start the second the clock strikes 12 but not all celebrations begin with the drop of a giant ball in Times Square. Take a look at some of these New Year’s Eve traditions from around the world. Let us know what new year traditions you celebrate with your family and friends in the comments.

Greece: Hanging Onions

Hanging onions

The Greeks believe that onions are a sign of rebirth, and so they hang the vegetable on their doors in order to promote growth throughout the new year. Another tradition is Kali Hera, “good hands,” this tradition of a gift exchange is belief that you will be more prosperous in the new year if you receive gifts on the first day of the year.


Russia: Two New Year Days

Black and White Typography Photo New Year Card 5

In Russia, the New Year is grander and more widely celebrated than Christmas. In fact, in Russia, there are two New Year’s: one is celebrated on January 1st and the other one is on January 14th, the so-called “old” New Year, which is based on the Orthodox calendar. There are lots of fireworks and concerts to mark the special holiday.


Spain: Lucky Grapes


In Spain, locals will eat exactly 12 “lucky” grapes at the stroke of midnight to honor a tradition that started in the late 19th century. The eating of 12 grapes symbolizes the twelve months of the year. The grapes reserve for bringing in the new year a re usually small and green. Spaniards eat one grape during each of the first 12 bell strikes after midnight in hopes that this will bring about a year of fortune and prosperity.


Brazil: Fun on the Beach


There are many New Year traditions that are fun and filled with superstitions. People will celebrate on a beach in bright colors. One of the biggest new year rituals in Brazil is to offer white flowers, soaps, combs, necklaces and more to Iemanjá, the deity that protects the oceans. Another tradition would be to jump seven waves because the sea has power and spirituality, causing energies to be renewed when one enters the ocean.


Scotland: First-Footing


Scotland has a New Year’s Eve celebration of Hogmanay, “first-footing,” which is the practice that the first person who crosses a threshold of a home in the New Year should carry a gift for luck. Some traditionalist believe that the first footing should be done by a dark-haired male if you wish to have good luck bearing gifts of coal, salt, shortbread, and whiskey, all of which further contribute to the idea of having a good fortune.


Turkey: Sprinkling Salt


In Turkey, it’s considered good luck to sprinkle salt on your doorstep as soon as the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Day. Like many other New Year’s Eve traditions around the globe, this one is said to produce both peace and prosperity


Ireland: Banging Bread


An Irish tradition involved banging on the doors and walls of the family home with Christmas bread. It might sound out of the ordinary, but this one is all about chasing bad luck out of the house and inviting good spirits in before the start of the year. It also ensures that the coming year will be filled with an abundance of bread and other food.