New Year’s Celebrations from Around the World

(Last Updated On: January 1, 2023)

If you like New Year’s Celebrations, you’ve probably made the joke about attending as many New Year’s parties as possible. For those who only plan to maybe spend a couple minutes at each party (for just when the clock strikes midnight), you could probably hit up like 60 different parties. Hopefully you’re familiar with New Year’s celebrations from around the world, then. If you’re American, you might find these a lot more interesting than watching a big ball fall

Further Reading: 21 Trivia Facts for New Year’s Day

Spain

Spaniards get new years going with 12 grapes, symbolic of the 12 Grapes of Luck. Each grape is meant to symbolize one strike of the clock when it hits midnight. It’s also tradition to wear red underwear. Specifically, this underwear has to have been given to you by somebody else. Finish it all off with a gold ring dropped into a glass of cava. Oh, also, you have to eat all the grapes before the clock finishes the 12 strikes.

Haiti

For Haitians, January 1st is Independence Day. Soup joumou is a super important meal on this day, as it was a meal enslaved Black Haitians weren’t allowed to consume. The soup is traditionally made with squash and simmered with other ingredients including (but not limited to) beef, potato, leeks, radishes, or onions. UNESCO put soup joumou on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in December of 2021, which was the first time Haitian culture made an appearance on the list.

India

In Fort Kochi, Kerala, effigies of an old man are prepared for the New Year. These effigies are called Pappanji. Pappanji are burned as the clock strikes midnight to symbolize the settling of the past year’s grievances. These effigies commonly wear clothes, like a coat or suits, and often appear to smoke cigars. They also get filled with straw—you know, for burning. 

Philippines

It’s traditional to eat 12 round fruits at midnight on New Year’s in the Philippines. The custom is largely inherited from Spanish colonization, if you remember the 12 grapes thing from earlier. Similarly, each fruit represents prosperity, but they also are meant to symbolize gold and silver coins. Cupboards are also supposed to be filled (and kept full for the rest of the year)—thank you colonization-induced food scarcity

Columbia

Potatoes are customarily placed under one’s bed for New Year’s in Columbia. Specifically, one should put three potatoes down—one peeled, one unpeeled, and one half-peeled. Once the clock strikes 12, you’re supposed to blindly take one of the potatoes. The peeled one means hard financial times are ahead while the unpeeled one means you’re gonna become rich next year. If you get the half-peeled one, well it’s gonna be average. 

Denmark

Throwing your dishes at people’s homes sounds like a good way to rack up assault or battery charges, but in Denmark it’s a show of good luck. The more broken plates, cups, or bowls sit on your doorstep, the more luck you’re supposed to receive for the coming year.

Ireland

New Year’s can come with moving what you might call “spring cleaning” to the start of a new year. One should also enter their home from the front door and leave through the back on New Year’s Eve. Also, bang bread on the walls, it’s meant to chase out bad luck and invite good spirits

Greece

In Greece, the onion is a symbol of rebirth. This is owed to onion bulbs sprouting all the time, even when it doesn’t seem like they should be sprouting. As an omen of growth and to symbolize the sense of rebirth for the upcoming year, hanging an onion outside one’s door is a common tradition. 


See if you know your New Year’s movies here.

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About Kyler 728 Articles
Kyler is a content writer at Sporcle living in Seattle, and is currently studying at the University of Washington School of Law. He's been writing for Sporcle since 2019; sometimes the blog is an excellent platform to answer random personal questions he has about the world. Most of his free time is spent drinking black coffee like water.