New Years Traditions from Around the World

By Jennifer Schorr, Publisher of Macaroni Kid Reading December 26, 2019

People celebrate the new year in many different ways. In our family, we started the tradition of going out to dinner to a hibachi and then celebrating at home, playing games as a family and banging pots and pans at the stroke of midnight. Here are some ways people around the world celebrate on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day:

Scotland - The first person welcomed into the home (which is usually someone who lives in your home) comes in carrying gifts that represent something from life that you want brought to the family in the new year. Examples are: money for financial prosperity, salt for flavour, bread for food, or coal for warmth.

Italy - Dating back to medieval times, Italians make sure to be wearing red underwear on December 31 to bring themselves good luck in the new year. Men used to wear a red drape over their "family jewels" in medieval times, to protect them from the witches who were out in the streets at the stroke of midnight who were supposedly casting spells.

Spain - At the stroke of midnight, if you can manage to stuff your mouth full of 12 grapes, you are considered to have achieved good luck for the next year. (Editor's note: While this sounds like fun, I do find it to be a choking hazard and do not recommend trying it.)

Japan - Bells are rung 108 times, representing the 108 human sins which are part of the Buddhist beliefs. The bells are rung 107 times before midnight and 1 time after midnight.

Denmark - It is tradition to throw plates at neighbors doors as a symbol of friendship on New Year's Eve. The person with an abundance of broken plates at their door is supposed to have many friends.

Estonia - Since the numbers 7, 9 & 12 are thought to be the luckiest, Estonians eat 7, 9 or 12 times on New Years Day.

Burma - Splashing others and being splashed with water is how they celebrate. This represents starting the new year with a purified soul.

Philippines - Their traditions all revolve around circles, as they are considered sacred. Philippians wear polka dots, eat round fruits, and walk around with round coins in their pockets.

Columbia - If you like to travel, you may want to join in the Columbian New Year's Celebration of carrying around suitcases. They carry them around with them on December 31 in the hopes of having a travel-filled year ahead of them.

Chile - This is a more recent tradition, but has become more and more popular each year. The people of Chile sleep in graveyards with their deceased relatives on New Year's Eve. It's a chance to reconnect with loved ones you have lost, while reminding you of how valuable life is.