New Year’s Day Around the World

By Rachel King


As you have probably seen from many televised displays, fireworks are one of the fairly universal means by which people ring in the new year at midnight on New Year’s Eve. However, there are so many more fascinating traditions unique to nations across the globe, so let’s explore a few.



Coins are baked into sweets in Bolivia. Whoever gets the pieces with the coins is promised good fortune in the coming year.



Eating lentils is tradition for Brazilians, as they symbolize wealth in the year to come.



The Danish gather up all the dishes they have not used from the year and smash them on the doors of their friends and family. It is said that those with the biggest piles of rubble are the most popular.


Denmark New Year
Credit: Tradish



Finland, Germany

In some countries, including Finland and Germany, molten metal is poured into buckets of water. The figures that subsequently form in the water are then interpreted. These interpretations predict how one’s new year will be, whether it be unlucky, promising a new relationship, or bringing danger.



Buddhism is one of the major religions practiced by the Japanese, so it makes sense that this country’s general populace abides by the tradition of ringing a bell 108 times, one for each sin in Buddhism. This is viewed in Buddhism to be the cleansing of those sins.


Russia, Siberia

Probably the craziest tradition of all, the Russians and Siberians dive into frozen lakes with tree trunks and leave the trunks below the ice.


Russia New Year
Credit: List 25




The custom of “first-footing” is popular among the Scottish population. Essentially, people attempt to be the first to enter a loved one’s home. A gift will usually be presented to the residents.


South Africa

South Africans kick off the New Year by getting rid of all their old possessions from the previous year, typically furniture, that they no longer want. The strange part is that they toss these items out the window.


South Africa New Year
Credit: SeeThru Mag



South America

Some Latin countries believe participating in the “suitcase walk,” or walking around with an empty piece of luggage, on New Year’s Eve will grant them a year filled with adventures.



Twelve grapes are symbolic of prosperity for Spaniards. If one manages to eat a grape each of the 12 times the clock chimes at midnight, they will be very lucky in the New Year.


Happy New Year - champagne, grapes and party decoration
Credit: Artsy Magazine




Thailand not only has the tradition of pouring water-filled buckets on people, but also of rubbing talc on each other.





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