30 Ways New Year's Is Celebrated Around The World

Published 1 year ago on December 25, 2018
By Hugo

New Year's Eve divides opinion. To some, it is a chance for a great night out, filled with amazing fireworks, great company and copious bottles of champagne. For others, it offers up the same letdowns each year: Being turned away from clubs, realizing you'll have no one to kiss come 12, and perhaps the most common of all, making a drunken fool of yourself.

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However, while most of us wind up doing the same things, around the world NYE celebrations vary wildly and involve unique and exciting traditions. Here we take a look at a few ways the world celebrates.

1. The Philippines

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New Year’s in the Philippines is centered around a special symbol involving food, coins, and polka dots! 

This culminates in a unique orb shape that symbolizes money. For these reasons, many Philipinos will sport this symbol on the night. Doing so is thought to spawn financial fortune for the year ahead.

2. France

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Unashamed gluttony dominates proceedings in France where revelers are encouraged to eat as much as possible before midnight. Known as le reveillion de la Saint-Sylvestre, party-goers are often encouraged to kiss under the mistletoe to loved ones while fireworks are also a regular fixture of the celebrations.

A typical French cuisine consists of a wide variety of expensive meats and luxuries from foie gros, goose and turkey to oysters and champagne. This is also supposed to encourage fortune for the year ahead.

3. Vietnam

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In faraway South-East Asia, the Vietnamese bring in the new year in style by wearing specially designed new clothes. This tradition is supposed to signify a fresh start.

While these colorful clothes are not worn every day, the Vietnamese often revert to their cultural roots by wearing a colorful type of dress called ao dai.

4. Russia

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In recognition of the Soviet era, many Russians- barring Russian Orthodox Christians- observe a similar holiday to Christmas Day during the New Year’s celebrations.

Instead of Santa, Grandfather Frost visits homes at midnight to drop presents when kids are sleeping. As Christmas was banned during the much-maligned Soviet era, New Year’s became the go-to celebration instead.

5. Italy


It shouldn't be too much of a surprise to hear that Italians also celebrate the new year in style by wearing their favorite clothes.

Much like the Russians, they also see New Year's Eve as a time for presents. But instead of your run-of-the-mill gifts, they usually consist of honey, gold, money, and lamps with each supposed to signify something poignant for the receiver. Food is also big business on New Year's Eve. The photo above shows the traditional festive dish, zampone con le lenticchie - pig trotter with lentils.

6. Turkey 

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While food and fashion is a big deal On New Year's Eve for many countries on this list, in Turkey, it has long been thought of as good luck to wear red underwear!

However, while the tradition may sound unique, people from other countries, including Italy, Spain and Mexico also sometimes do this, as do China, where red is deemed to be the color of luck.

7. Panama

Panama's “muñecos” dolls (Judas dolls) are a staple part of this country's tradition. For the uninitiated, munecos, or Judas dolls, are these weird but incredibly decorative dolls packed with fireworks. The tradition is in accordance with ancient folklore. By striking these life-size effigies aflame, evil spirits of the past year will have vanished and the soul will be cleansed for the year ahead. 

An unusual, and slightly creepy tradition but certainly a novel and original way of bringing in the new year.

8. Belarus

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In the Eastern European nation of Belarus, New Year forms part of the 13-day festival Kaliady, a holiday derived from an old pagan honor of the solstice. Following the Orthodox Christian calendar, Christmas was added as a celebration on January 7 as opposed to December 25.

While Kaliady is very much rooted in traditional Christian scriptures, the holiday sees people eat an array of local foods, engage in the Halloween tradition of trick-or-treating, sing traditional Belarusian songs, and partake in exciting fortune-telling and folk games. 

In other words, these guys like to have fun!

9. Belgium

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While New Year's in Belgium is celebrated with a festive cheer of most of its European neighbors, is slightly different here- at least for farmers. At the crack of dawn, Walloon and Flemish farmers bring in the new year to greet the cows and other livestock a happy New Year.

Romania farmers also follow this tradition.

10. Finland

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Finland is home to the original Lapland, and the attraction draws many visitors from around the world, but there's more to a festive Finish period than snow and reindeers. Like in Belarus, the Finns celebrations involve crafting their very own fortune-telling object.

To do this, people often melt tin in horseshoes then pour the results into chilled water. The spawned solid is supposed to offer an insight into the coming year. However, the various shades of soil are supposed to signify different outcomes for the year ahead while a broken piece of tin brings bad luck.

11. Austria 

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Celebrations in Austria are very much a period of two halves. The first part consists of a fun game which requires you to unearth a lucky charm within a suckling pig.

Once the charm is discovered, Austrians can tuck into a delicious dessert of peppermint ice cream.

12. Switzerland

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Whilst the Austrians tuck into their sugary delights, the Swiss, home to some of the best chocolatiers in the world, turn their noses up at their New Year’s treat and drop an entire serving of whipped cream on the floor instead.


13. Estonia

Shutterstock/ igor sockolov (breeze)

Estonians have a reputation for being heavy drinkers and even bigger eaters, so how they can even stand at midnight is certainly one of life's great mysteries. Starting the special day with a variety of tasty meals, these feasts are often shared with guests and can sometimes consist of 12 separate dishes.

By eating 7, 9 or 12 times on the eve of the coming year,  the tradition states that you'll have the strength of that many men or women with those numbers being the lucky ones.

14. China

Shutterstock/ wong yu liang

For good luck in the coming year, many Chinese residents paint their front doors red for good luck. As we explained in the case of Turkey, the color red is thought to bring good luck.

But instead of wearing red underwear, the Chinese give out red packets of money for children, red rackets for married couples and red lanterns for the night-time sky. 

15. Puerto Rico

Puerto Ricans like to keep everything clean during the annual celebration we all know as Eve. This means keeping everything, form their cars, gardens, and homes right through to the streets spotless. Well, kind of.

They take care of the latter by throwing buckets of water out of windows in a bid to rid the negative spirits (bad juju) of last year. 

16. England

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While this tradition is certainly a pleasant pastime, some English people have kept this unusual tradition alive.

Some still believe that if the first guest who arrives through the front door on New Year's Eve is a young, dark-headed male, they will receive many gifts including bread (for health), salt (wealth) and coal (for warmth).

17. America 

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Americans may be known for their extravagant celebrations of sporting events and important days in their nation's history, but when it comes to New Year's Eve, they like to keep things relatively straightforward.

Screens across America broadcast live from Times Square as an enormous ball drops over the capital's landmark until every timezone has crossed the midnight mark. Fireworks on NYE in the Big Apple have been banned for some time.

Travel further South, however, and you'll come across many different customs. In Louisiana, most locals still eat black-eyed peas and cabbage with the promise of wealth and health for the year ahead.

18. Bali


Sometimes it's best to celebrate a festive event by doing nothing at all. Though many East-Asian cultures use the lunar calendar as a way of determining certain holidays, certain swathes of Indonesia follow a Saka Calendar, meaning certain events such as New Years fall on different days of the year.

Because of this, Eve and Day are relaxed days for Bali natives though many of the island's tourists celebrate well into the early hours.

 19. Scotland

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Referring to the celebrations by their Gaelic name of Hogmanay, this is actually a 3-day event in Scotland and most of the action takes place in the Scottish capital of Edinburgh as they pay tribute to their Viking roots with a 'river of fire' as 8,000 revelers holding torches light up Old Town's streets, from Parliament Square to Calton Hill and pipers, drummers and folk in full warrior garb roll through.

Traditional dances of ceilidhs can be found up and down the country whilst just outside of Edinburgh city you can take part in the Loony Dook where costumed revelers plunge themselves into the icy waters of the Firth of Forth.

20. Spain

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Many people in Spain can be found with 12 grapes in hand at the stroke of midnight as they try to each one with each ring of the bells and if you can manage this, you are destined to have a prosperous year ahead of you.

Some make it harder by trying to do it with a cocktail stick but head to  Puerta del Sol in Madrid for Nochevieja, and you'll find many enjoying the fireworks with grapes in solid form in one hand and in liquid form in the other.

21. Denmark

Shutterstock/ Herr Loeffler

Whilst most people would probably try and avoid smashing things up, Danes store up their chipped plates, glasses, and crockery over the year and then take them to their friend's doors and hurl them hard to make sure they shatter on the doorstep.

The more shards on your doorstep in the New Year, the more popular you are, and the better year you will have.

22. Brazil

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Those living near the coast of Brazil often head to the sea as the new year greets them to offer bouquets or flower petals to the goddess of the waters. 

Many will wear white to bring peace to them, and it is good luck to jump seven waves as you wade out into the water.

23. South Africa

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Those living in the neighborhood of Hillbrow in the capital Johannesburg incorporate house cleaning into their new year celebrations, but it's not your typical domestic clean- far from it.

This kind of house cleaning involves throwing furniture and other appliances- no matter their weight- from the windows of high buildings to ensure the new year is a bright one. Let's just hope a fridge doesn't land on a poor person's head!

24. Japan

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According to the Buddhist tradition, 108 is the number of human desires and thus, causes of suffering so by ringing bells 108 times, it scares off bad spirits and brings in good luck and faith in the new year.

Others will wear all white before stripping down and bathing themselves in ice baths in order to cleanse themselves of sin for the New Year.

25. Bahamas

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A festival tradition that happens on both Boxing Day and New Year starting at 2 am on the first day of the year as people take to the streets in wild and colorful costumes, dancers parade down the walkways and roads whilst musicians beat goatskin drums.

Born of a time when plantation slaves were allowed time off to celebrate Christmas as a community, these loud and vibrant celebrations now take place against a far more appealing backdrop.

26. Germany

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In many European countries, including Germany, they drop especially melted meta into cold water and then try and read the future from the shapes formed.

For example, if it makes the shape of a flower, it could mean they have an unknown admirer. Nice.

27. Romania

Shutterstock/ Crisan Rosu

According to old folk stories from Romania, bears are a special creature that has the power to protect and heal and so, just before the new year rolls around, people dress up as bears.

This is to scare off any lingering bad spirits before the start of the new year, so you get things off on the right foot.

28. South America


In many parts of South America, people will take their suitcase for a stroll to encourage the coming year to bring them many adventures ahead.

The suitcase is empty to make things a little easier, but for the adventurous in life, this may be a good way to start the year.

29. Egypt 

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In Egypt, New Year’s Day celebrations are dependent on the shape of the moon. This lunar worship means that festivities in the North African nation only occur once a crescent moon is sighted.

Now that's one beautiful way of celebrating ! 

30. Cambodia

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Along with neighboring Laos, bringing in the New Year in Cambodia is normally celebrated around April. The holiday consists of a 3-day long celebration which is known as the Khmer New Year.

The exact dates of the festival usually occur during the end of the harvest season which, as we mentioned above, often falls in April.

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