New Year’s Traditions Around the World

It’s that time of year again! Is it just us, or has this past year flown by as fast as ever? As we end off the year of 2018, I’m sure we’ll all be celebrating as we enter into the new year full-force. Whether your plans for ringing in 2019 included watching the fireworks or spending time with friends and family, take a look at some unique New Year’s traditions celebrated by countries and cultures all around the world.



In Spain, it is customary to eat 12 grapes – one at each of the 12 chimes of the clock at midnight on New Year’s Eve, with each grape representing good luck for one month of the coming year. It’s harder than it sounds (people even practice for it), but if you’re successful, tradition says you’ll have a year of prosperity. In bigger cities like Madrid and Barcelona, people gather in main squares to eat their grapes together and pass around bottles of cava (Spanish wine).


12 grapes new year



In hopes of a travel-filled new year, residents of Colombia carry empty suitcases around the block on the 31st of December. This is one New Year’s tradition that we especially love!


Smashing things against someone’s house might be considered bad luck, but in Denmark, people hold on to chipped dishes and glasses all year just for New Year’s Eve. That night, they go around to the homes of friends and family and smash them against their front doors. The more shards you have on your doorstep the next morning, the more popular you are.


Hogmanay, a multi-day New Year’s celebration across Scotland, is comprised of thousands of people marching down the streets of Old Town holding torches, creating a “river of fire”, alongside a procession of pipers and drummers. On New Year’s Eve itself, Scots like to have a few drinks and have a good time at ceilidh, a social gathering with Scottish music and traditional dancing.


Scotland Hogmanay



Known as the Polar Bear Swim, the tradition started in 1920 and involves people jumping into the freezing waters of the English Bay in Vancouver on New Year’s Day. Now, this icy tradition has spread throughout the country, with Canadians all over welcoming the calendar year with a cold start.


Every year, thousands of Brazilians throw white flowers into the ocean as an offering to “Iemanjá”, the Goddess of the Sea and Mother of Waters, in the hope that she’ll make their wishes for the next year come true.


Brazil Iemanjá new year



An onion is traditionally hung from the front door of a house on New Year’s Eve as a symbol of rebirth for the coming year. Parents then wake their children the next morning by tapping them on the head with the onion.

New York

Since 1907, thousands of people gather into Times Square every New Year’s Eve to watch the New Year ball drop, with its minute-long descent starting at 11:59pm.


New York Times Square ball drop



Circles have long been considered sacred in the Philippines, such that you’ll find round shapes all over the country on New Year’s Eve, with the round shapes representing that of coins which symbolize prosperity in the coming year. Many families will display and eat round fruit on their dining tables, wear polka dots for luck, and toss coins into pans.


On New Year’s Eve, many Mexicans decorate their homes in different colours, each representative of their hopes for the new year. Red is for love, yellow is for work, and green is for money.