10 unique New Year’s Eve celebrations from around the world

As the new year approaches, there’s a good chance you’re gearing up for a night of celebrations with your loved ones to reflect on the past and look forward to the future, often with a glass of prosecco in hand.

While this could be a familiar scene for you, it’s worth remembering that cultures around the world have their own distinctive ways of bidding farewell to the old and welcoming the new. 

Continue reading to discover 10 weird and wonderful New Year’s Eve celebrations from around the globe. 

1. Eating 12 grapes, Spain

If you love grapes, then you’ll certainly like the sound of Spanish New Year’s Eve celebrations. Indeed, in many parts of Spain, locals kick off the new year with a unique tradition known as “Los doce uvas de la suerte”, or “the 12 grapes of luck”. 

Locals will eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight, each symbolising a month of the upcoming year.

The ritual, which dates back to the late 19th century, is believed to ward off evil and usher in a year of prosperity.

However, the tradition only “works” if you manage to eat all 12 grapes by the time the clock strikes midnight.

2. Burning an effigy of an old man, India

In many parts of India, New Year’s Eve involves burning an effigy of an old man, called “pappanji”.

The ceremony symbolises letting go of any grievances from the past year, such as work-related stress, bad thoughts, or other difficulties you’ve faced.

Locals will write notes expressing their sorrow and place them around the hay effigy. When it burns, this creates space for a fresh start in the new year. 

Afterwards, the atmosphere transforms into a festive celebration, complete with the singing of Auld Lang Syne. 

3. Breaking old plates, Denmark

While you may initially think that only the Greeks smash plates in celebration, Danes also do this on New Year’s Eve. 

Indeed, it’s normal for Danish locals to throw old crockery at their neighbours’ and friends’ doors to bring in the new year. 

While the origins of this tradition are unclear, it’s thought that this shows appreciation for the people in your life. It’s essentially a way of saying “thank you” and wishing them luck in the new year. 

It’s also seen as a good way of letting go of the past and starting fresh, since you’re leaving behind any negative energy or bad luck and making room for new opportunities. 

4. Throwing out old furniture, Italy

Many Italians like to take a more literal approach to starting the new year fresh by throwing their old furniture out the window as the clock strikes midnight. 

This act is said to represent throwing away the old and ushering in a fresh start in the year ahead, as well as a convenient way for locals to physically make space in their homes.

No piece of furniture is safe and could range from a chair to cushions, and sometimes they’re even thrown out of second-floor windows. So, if you’re in Italy for New Year’s Eve, watch out for flying furniture. 

5. Hanging an onion outside the door, Greece

Aside from being a kitchen staple, onions also become decoration over the new year in Greece, as many locals hang them outside their doors. 

This is said to symbolise fertility and growth, as onions can sprout on their own. Like many New Year’s Eve traditions, locals believe that the hanging onions will bring them luck in the year ahead. 

6. Placing 3 potatoes under the bed, Colombia

Colombians also follow a unique vegetable-related New Year’s Eve tradition by placing three potatoes under their beds. 

In the ceremony – which is called “Aguero” – each family member will hide three potatoes. One is peeled, one is partially peeled, and one is left alone. 

Then, at midnight, each family member grabs one of the potatoes with their eyes closed. Depending on the potato they choose, they can expect a year of good fortune, financial struggle, or a mix of the two. 

7. Banging bread against the walls, Ireland

Many families in Ireland still adhere to an ancient tradition on New Year’s Eve: banging a loaf of bread against the walls of their homes. 

They believe this dispels any lingering bad luck in their homes, while encouraging a plentiful supply of food in the coming year.

Better yet, this can be a helpful way to use up any stale loaves of bread from around the house!

8. Serving 12 round fruits, the Philippines

Filipinos embrace another food-related New Year’s Eve tradition that involves serving 12 round fruits at their tables. 

Locals believe that the shape of the fruit represents prosperity since it mirrors the shape of a coin. On top of the fruit, locals in the Philippines often wear circle-related clothing, such as polka dots, and fill their pockets with coins.

This superstition is said to bring wealth and prosperity in the year ahead. 

9. Watching the ball drop, the USA

A more widely recognised tradition in the USA involves watching the iconic ball drop in Times Square, New York. 

Indeed, dating back to 1907 to draw attention to the New York Times’ headquarters, an 11,875-pound ball made of Waterford Crystal drops on a mechanism to mark the new year. 

Millions of Americans watch the event live on TV, and many gather on the streets to watch it in person. Then, the revelries ensue. 

10. Sharing soup joumou, Haiti

In Haiti, New Year’s Eve holds a special significance, as it marks Haitian Independence Day on 1 January. 

Locals celebrate the momentous event by sharing a pumpkin soup called “joumou”, a delicacy that was once forbidden to enslaved Haitians.

Since everyone makes the soup differently, many locals will visit other people’s homes and have a culinary swap, adding a flavourful touch to the celebrations. 

Get in touch

As always, if you ever need to speak to us for any reason, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Please call 01992 500261 or fill in our online contact form to organise a meeting and we’ll be in touch.

Join our newsletter

Sign up now to be the first to receive the latest news from our team.

    More stories

    13 Dec 2023

    8 intriguing ways to stay fit and healthy in retirement

    Read more

    13 Dec 2023

    The benefits of using your pension as an estate planning tool

    Read more