New Year’s Eve Traditions Around the World


New Year’s Eve is not just any other day – it is a refreshing beginning, the start of something new. Hence the reason why people write down so many resolutions that they forget to sustain a few months later. Some people party with friends, whip out expensive liquors, and scream and jubilee at the stroke of midnight. Others watch fireworks and spend time with loved ones. While we keep up with these popular traditions, there are countries around the world where people usher in the new year in quirky and unconventional ways. There are so many New Year’s Eve traditions out there – here are some we love.


Danes have an unusual tradition of breaking dishware against the doors of their neighbours, family, and friends. This represents good luck. The more broken dishes you find on your doorstep, the better your luck for the new year. Hint: make a lot of friends during the year so you get a lot of broken dishes.


Spaniards secure good luck for each month of the coming year by stuffing in 12 grapes into their mouths – one grape at a time following the 12 seconds countdown into the new year. The 12 grapes signify each month of the year.


Ditch your old, dark-coloured underwear! Brazilians wear brand-new colourful underwear on New Year’s Eve. You choose the colour of your underwear based on what you want for the coming year: white is for peace, red for love, and yellow for money. Brazilians also usually wear white clothes on New Year’s Eve –  you would be considered a rebel to wear black.


Another unconventional tradition is found in Belarus, where unmarried women play games to determine their relationship fate. All the single women stand in a circle, a pile of corn is placed in front of each one, and a rooster is placed in the middle. The lady’s pile of corn to be eaten first by the rooster is believed to be the first to wed. Similarly, married women play hide and seek games with their single friends by hiding items around their houses. Whoever finds a loaf of bread will most likely marry a rich man, and whoever finds a ring will marry a handsome man.

A couple welcoming guests by the door/ a tight fist


New Year’s Eve in Scotland is called Hogmanay. At midnight, everyone sings “Auld Lang Syne,” a poem written by Scottish poet Robert Burns. There’s also a popular tradition called the “first-footing,” in which the first person to visit a household in the new year is expected to come with a gift. This signifies good luck. Preferably, the person should be dark and tall, and the gift should be  black coal, which represents light and warmth, salt, whiskey, or raisin bread. If you are short or blonde – oh well! Head over to Scotland to find out.


Squash the beef with your frenemies in this popular Peruvian tradition called Takanakuy (meaning “when the blood is boiling”). Anyone, including old and young, male and female, can take part in this traditional fistfight. The fight is organized on the 25th of December to let out your anger or settle disputes literally so as to start the new year with a clean slate. The fight usually begins or ends with a handshake or a hug. According to the rules, you cannot hit your opponent when they’re on the ground.


In Greece, New Year’s Eve is the perfect time for gambling. People are seen gambling from early evening until midnight. These marathon games are organized at homes, casinos, clubs, or coffee shops. Whoever hits the jackpot will have good luck and happiness all year long.


Russians believe in the power of New Year’s wishes coming true. To this effect, they write down their wishes for the coming year, burn them with candle, and throw the ashes into a glass of champagne. They drink the champagne when the clock strikes 12.


Chileans walk around the block with empty suitcases on New Year’s Eve to welcome the year with lots of travel and adventures. For prosperity in the coming year, they put money in their right shoes.


The Chinese New Year falls around January or February because of the lunar calendar. Head over to China if you weren’t ready on January 1st and feel like starting afresh (and maybe draft new resolutions). While you are there, be careful when you’re around sharp objects and knives –  according to the Chinese tradition, getting cut on the last day of the year causes bad luck to the entire family.

Throughout all of these different traditions, one thing is common: “Out with the old, in with the new”. There is something mystical and energizing about the start of a year that is recognized by cultures all around the world.

Thinking about breaking tradition this year? Why not celebrate the New Year with a cruise? Check out our cruise deals to find a cruise that suits your budget, or give our experts a call on 0808 2746 777 


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