New Year’s Customs Around the World

Santa Claus

Whether you have been looking forward to this time of the year because of a winter break, presents, snow, or just some quiet time with friends and family members, you can’t deny it: it really is the most wonderful time. All around the globe, people of different backgrounds, beliefs, and nationalities, all come together to celebrate the end of an old year and the beginning of a new one. 

People honor the moment between 31st December and 1st January, when the clock strikes midnight, in different ways. Whether the celebration is modest or lavish, one thing applies to all: every new year is a unique opportunity, a chance, a change, a fresh start, and a new beginning for everyone! 

Keep reading to learn about different traditions and origins of extraordinary celebrations and customs!

Shana Tova Israel!

In Israel, according to tradition, on New Year’s Eve, people eat only sweet food since it symbolizes fertility and life longevity. On that day, on the table, you can usually find honey-glazed apples and other sweets, such as cupcakes with honey for example. Many enjoy a good carrot cake, which is also a signature dish. It is believed to bring good fortune if eaten on New Year’s Eve. People of Israel also celebrate the so-called Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish new year. The name would translate as “The trumpet holiday.” The celebration lasts for 48 hours, and it is considered to be an introduction to the fasting period and days of atonement.

Feliz año Nuevo, Spain!

Spanish people have a wonderful tradition for New Year’s Eve. On 31st December, at midnight, all around the country, people eat grapes. Twelve grapes, to be precise. It symbolizes good luck for each of the months to come. Other than that, people gather on public squares and together, with music and fireworks, celebrate the New year’s arrival.

Aam Saiid, UAE!

Celebration of the New year in UAE, famous for its fireworks, attracts many people of all ages. It actually holds a Guinness record in fireworks. Dubai, known for its lavish and extraordinary parties, attracts tourists from different parts of the world, and consequently, its streets are especially crowded during the holidays. The celebration lasts for the first two weeks of January. 

Natives used to finish supper by the last bell on 31st December. However, since they are overcrowded by tourists that come mainly from Europe and that are used to celebrating way past midnight, that tradition is slowly being adjusted. They also celebrate New Year twice a year. Most of the population is Islamic, and according to Muslim tradition and calendar, a new year begins on the first day of Muharram, and in the year 2022, that will be on 29th July.

Happy New Year, USA!

Other than the famous crystal ball that drops on Times Square in the United States, a celebration of the New year combines several old traditions. For example, kissing under the mistletoe is actually an ancient custom. It is believed that evil spirits and bad luck vanish from homes by kissing and love. Black beans and pork are a must courses. But, they come with a twist. There should be a hidden coin inside, and whoever finds it on their plate is granted a whole year of great luck.

Selamat Tahun Baru, Indonesia!

People all around Indonesia gather on the streets or their homes and celebrate the arrival of the New Year just like any other nation. However, they have a tradition of their own, where people drive in their cars and honk, at midnight. Noise should drive away any evil spirits and bring good luck to everyone.  An exciting curiosity is that they also drop the crystal ball. However, it is not as nearly famous as the same tradition in New York. 

Xīnnián hǎo, China!

A significant custom for Chinese people is wearing red. From underwear to coats and accessories, at least something has to be red. Also, did you know that if you happen to be looking for a knife on New Year’s Eve in a Chinese house, you wouldn’t be able to find one? That’s because Chinese people believe that if someone cuts themself, it will bring bad luck to a whole family. That’s why they remove them and put them outside, not to be touched for an entire day.

Kali Xronia, Greece!

Greeks believe that it is crucial who is the first person entering their home in the morning on 1st January. They usually arrange with beloved family members or close friends to come by and bring good luck to their homes. A traditional cake with one hidden coin inside is also a must on the dining table. Whoever gets the piece with a coin can hope for a year filled with joy and good luck.

Felice Anno Nuovo, Italy!

If you happen to be on the streets of Italy at midnight on New Year’s Eve, you could easily get hit from above by a piece of old clothing or furniture. Italians throw old and overused objects out their windows to banish evil spirits, bad luck, and sad memories. In that way, they make room for better luck symbolically and literally 🙂

Sawatdii Pimaï, Thailand!

To drive away evil spirits and cleanse, the people in Thailand shoot at the sky and clap to make the noise. Also, this is the only time of the year when you can witness rivers filled with flowers. It is believed that throwing flowers into the water brings good luck. 

Feliz Año Nuevo, Colombia!

Colombians on new years day sew very special kinds of dolls. The doll should symbolize the old year, and it is filled with pieces of old clothes. At midnight, they bring it outside and set it on fire. In that way, they get rid of any bad mojo from the past year and drive away malicious spirits.  You could also see Colombians walking with empty suitcases everywhere in the streets. They believe it will bring them good luck and many travels.

There, we shared some interesting moments we found on the Internet. However, we invite our international students and their families to share their favorite New Year’s traditions with us.

Happy New Year, Everybody!

Wherever you are at the moment, whichever way you’ll spend New Year’s Eve, EduWW wishes you happy holidays and all the best in the New year. Whether you’ll be walking around with empty suitcases, throwing old stuff out your window, partying under the lavish fireworks in the night sky, or enjoying some delicious food with your loved ones, we hope that you are happy and wish you the luckiest year ahead! Be happy, be well, stay safe, and we bet you’re gonna have a really great year!