12 New Year's Celebrations Around the World

Georgina Willcox | 29 December 2022
Browse by Category

Forget Auld Lang Syne when the clock strikes midnight, why not try some other New Year celebrations from around the world to ring in the New Year!

New Year Traditions from Around the World

1. Japan

One of the most unique New Year celebrations around the world is found in Japan. Instead of the bells ringing 12 times to welcome in the New Year, a Buddhist tradition in Japan is for the bells to ring 108 times to banish all sins and achieve nirvana for the year to come.

2. Spain

Many Spaniards eat 12 grapes to the midnight chimes of a clock. Many believe the origins of this tradition in Spain date back to 1909 where wine producers from Levante gave away surplus grapes. They claimed eating grapes on New Year’s Eve was very good luck!

3. Iceland

Legend has it that on New Year’s Eve in Iceland, cows are able to talk and the dead rise from their graves! Elves, which are very popular in Icelandic folklore, move home on New Year’s Eve and so some Icelanders light a candle to help them find their way in the darkness. 

4. Greece

In Greece, it’s tradition on New Year's Eve to hang an onion on your front door as it’s a symbol of rebirth. Children are woken by their parents on New Year’s Day by being tapped on the head with the onion.

5. Denmark

Danes throw old plates against the doors of their friends and families’ homes. The more broken plates outside your door, the more good luck you’ll have. They also jump from chairs at midnight, so they literally leap into the new year!

6. Colombia

There are several interesting Columbian New Year traditions. This includes putting lentils in their pockets as this is a symbol of prosperity and wearing yellow underwear for good luck! Our favourite is, as soon as it’s midnight, they take a suitcase and run around their neighbourhood screaming the countries that they want to visit in the new year.

7. China

Red is a lucky colour in China, so some Chinese people will adorn their homes with red decorations to bring happiness and good fortune. They will wear red clothes and young people are often gifted with money in red envelopes too. Explore their traditions further with a China holiday.

8. Turkey

Differebt New Year celebrations around the world see sprinkling salt in Turkey. If you shake salt on your doorstep in Turkey as the bells ring in the New Year, this will bring peace and prosperity to your home for the following year.

9. South Africa

In some parts of South Africa, they mean it literally when they say “Out with the Old and in with the New” for New Year. They throw away old furniture, old appliances and declutter their homes indicating a fresh start.

10. Brazil

In Brazil, many people go to the beach to offer gifts, usually white flowers, to Yemọja; a water spirit who protects the ocean. They will also wear white clothes during rituals - along with brightly coloured underwear - to seek peace and luck.

11. Estonia

Which country traditionally eats 7, 9, or 12 meals on New Year’s eve? No matter if you’ve overindulged during Christmas, the New Year’s eve tradition in Estonia is to eat a lucky number of meals. This means you will be well fed in the coming year! 

12. Puerto Rico 

In Puerto Rico, a territory of the USA, at the stroke of midnight, some people drop backwards into the breaking waves to keep the evil spirits away. Another way to banish evil spirits is to throw buckets out of their windows!

Thinking of celebrating away from home? Then check out our guided New Year's Eve Holidays and join in the new year celebrations around the world with Travel Department. 


You Might also like

Seasonal Getaways

8 Best Christmas Markets To Visit In 2024

  • Georgina Willcox
  • 20 July 2023

We have chosen the Europe’s top Christmas markets to help you decide which markets are right for your festive escape. ...

Special Interests

Top travel destinations for couples 50+

  • Georgina Willcox
  • 18 January 2021

There are myriad reasons to travel with your partner later in life: financial security, a deeper understanding of the world, more time, etc. But perhaps the best reason to see the world is the experie ...

Best Places To Travel By Month Inspiration by Country

Top 10 must-see destinations in 2024

  • Georgina Willcox
  • 12 October 2023

Discover our top 10 must-see destinations to give you some inspiration for where you might travel to in 2024. ...


Be the first to know about our holiday updates, travel tips and special offers.

  • IAA
  • ITAA
  • Trustpilot
  • Readers Travel Award
  • Sustainable Travel Ireland
  • British Travel Awards Winner