12 New Year's Eve celebrations around the world

TD Team | 31 December 2019
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Forget Auld Lang Syne when the clock strikes midnight, why not try some other customs from around the world to ring in the New Year!

1. 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! 

2. Spain

Spaniard 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 and 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

Colombians have several interesting New Year’s Eve traditions; including 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 and some Chinese people will adorn their homes with red decorations to bring happiness and good fortune. 

8. Turkey

If you sprinkle salt on your doorstep in Turkey as the bells ring in the New Year this will bring peace and prosperity to your home.

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” as they throw away old furniture. 

10. Russia 

As the clock strikes midnight, Russians write their wishes on a piece of paper and then burn it, they then pop open a bottle of champagne and mix the ashes in their glasses! You have to clink glasses with everyone and finish your drink before the last bell tolls otherwise your wish won’t come true! If you don’t make it the first time round, you can try again throughout the night as Russia has eleven different time zones!

11. Estonia

Although you may have overindulged during Christmas, in Estonia it’s tradition to eat a lucky number of meals, as this will mean you will be well fed in the coming year. This can be difficult for some as the luckiest numbers are 7, 9 and 12! 

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.

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