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10 Delightful New Year’s Traditions from Around the World

Becky Hart | May 10, 2024

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The New Year: It might be the closest thing we have to a universally celebrated holiday. It seems that no matter where you go, people are eager to ring in a new beginning.

What’s less universal, however, is how we celebrate. From the sentimental to the strange, we're counting down some of the interesting ways we party on New Year’s Eve.

10. Spain: Twelve Grapes

When midnight rolls around, Spaniards will eat one grape for each time the clock chimes in hopes of guaranteeing good luck for the following year.

“It may sound pretty straightforward,” says Seven Corners blogger Grace Lower, “but my Spanish friends assure me that the challenge is tougher than it seems.”

Failure to complete the task supposedly puts you at risk for bad fortune, so the Spanish do their best to improve odds. Staying true to the superstition, you want Aledo grapes, grown in Alicante in a way that makes their skin particularly fine and easy to eat.

9. Germany: Marzipan Pigs

Sticking with the lucky food theme, Germans will gift marzipan pigs to friends and family as a way of wishing them good luck. It’s a bit like giving someone a four-leaf clover, and you might even find some of the confectionary Glücksschwein with a lucky clover incorporated in the design.

We don’t know how lucky they really are, but they certainly are cute!

8. Denmark: Broken Plates

Broken glass isn’t normally a welcome sight, but in Denmark, it’s celebrated. Every New Year’s Eve, Danes will travel to their friends’ homes and throw their old, chipped dishes at the front door.

As strange as it seems, a stoop covered in plate fragments suggests that the homeowners are quite popular among their friends.

Another popular New Year’s tradition in Demark is jumping off furniture. It’s a quite literal interpretation of jumping into the new year.

7. Japan: Ringing Bells

Buddhist temples play a key role in (ahem) ringing in the new year. Just before midnight, temples across Japan will ring their bells 108 times to represent 108 human sins. Each ring of the bell is seen as a way to rid Japan of the bad experiences, deeds, and luck from the previous year.

The most popular bell-ringing event takes place in Tokyo, where the “Watched Night” bell is rung 107 times on December 31, and once past midnight.

Find more events in Japan that you’ll want to travel to see for yourself.

6. Philippines: Noisemakers

New Year’s Eve isn’t a quiet holiday, but Filipinos take it to a new level. And they have sound logic behind their noisy celebrations.

When the clock strikes 12, Filipinos celebrate the New Year as loudly as they can — clanging pots and pans, revving their car engines, dragging tin cans through the streets, and blowing whistles. The racket created is thought to scare away evil spirits.

The Philippines is also one of the few countries we’ve found with a New Year’s tradition for kids. It’s said that if the youngster jumps as high as they can as the clock strikes midnight, it will help them grow tall.

5. Netherlands: New Year’s Dives

On New Year’s Day, after an evening of warm and cozy bonfires, the Dutch will dive into lakes, canals, and even the North Sea for a frigid dip. Why? Because someone in the 1960s thought it sounded fun.

No one claims the polar plunge will make you healthier or bring you wealth or help you find the love of your life in the new year. It’s just something to do in this cold-loving country.

4. Mexico: Walking in Circles

This is one of our favorites. If your New Year’s resolution is to travel more, do like the Mexicans and Colombians and grab your suitcase and walk in a circle. Whether it’s a spin around the house or a stroll around the block, this practice is said to guarantee a year of exciting adventures.

This trip is the ultimate in packing light. Your suitcase can be empty.

3. Scotland: Redding of the House

The Scottish gave us “Auld Lang Syne,” but they’ve kept the redding of the house to themselves. If you want to adopt this tradition, though, you’ll need to deep clean your house. 

Starting the new year with an untidy home is considered unlucky, so get out your scrubbing sponges and pay special attention to the fireplace. Sweep the chimney, remove the old ashes — have someone read the ashes to tell your fortune for a truly authentic experience — and lay a new fire.

2. Greece: Vasilopita

In Greece, New Year’s Eve coincides with St. Basil’s Day, which is an important celebration in the Greek Orthodox tradition. In addition to exchanging gifts, special cakes called vasilopita are a favorite New Year’s treat. Inside each of the round cakes is a coin, which is said to bring good luck to whoever finds it.

To celebrate the New Year and to commemorate St. Basil, Greek families will cut the vasilopita, dedicating the first two slices to Christ and the household. The rest is distributed to guests in order of age, all of whom are hoping for that lucky coin.

1. Brazil: Colorful Underwear

In Brazil, New Year’s partygoers often don new, colorful underwear in hopes of good fortune. Each color is said to attract a different type of luck for the year ahead. Green underwear symbolizes good health, while yellow represents financial prosperity. White underwear is for peace, red is said to attract passion, and pink underwear is thought to bring romance. Purple underwear symbolizes intellectual and spiritual inspiration.

Brazilians aren’t the only ones to put faith in their undergarments. Italy and Spain also wear red underwear in hopes of good luck in the new year.

Don't Leave Travel Up to Lady Luck

When you travel this year, don’t leave it all up to luck. Prepare for the unexpected — from cancellations and delays to illness and injury — with travel insurance.

Learn more about how you can protect your trip and health at SevenCorners.com.

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