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The 20 most beautiful New Year’s Eve traditions around the world

In the article 20 Christmas traditions around the world we have reviewed the quirkiest customs performed around those dates. Keep reading to find out how the New Year’s Eve is celebrated in other countries!

Brazilian New Year’s Eve tradition: jumping over seven waves

Music, sun, beach and summer. These concepts are related to the year-end celebrations in Brazil. On New Year’s Eve, friends and family gather on the beach after midnight. Why? To perform the ritual of jumping over seven waves for good luck and to make seven wishes for the new year, one per wave.

And by the way…Did you know that Brazilian and European Portuguese are very different? Ensure that our mother-tongue Portuguese translators (in their respective variants) adapt your text correctly.

Red underwear: a Spanish New Year’s Eve tradition

Do you need some luck in love? On the last night of the year try wearing red underwear to attract love. This tradition dates back to the Middle Ages. Wearing red was prohibited by the church as it was associated with the devil. However, people associated it with luck and therefore kept wearing red… but covered up!

It’s not only in Spain that we choose the colour of the lingerie for that night. In Latin America there’s a tradition to choose other colours for other wishes. Yellow for wealth, white for peace, etc.

New Year’s tradition in Scotland: first footing

New Year’s Eve in Scotland is celebrated even more than Christmas. Why? After the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, the observance of Christmas was forbidden for almost four centuries. In 1958, 25th December was finally made a public holiday in Scotland.

Around the New Year’s Eve celebrations, or Hogmanay in Scots, we find a host of quirky traditions. Among them, first footing which refers to the first person to enter a door after midnight on 31st December. Ideally, it should be a handsome, dark-haired man, and he should bring whiskey, shortbread, coal or salt.

Midnight kiss, a New Year’s Eve tradition in the United States

To say goodbye to the old year and start the new one with plenty of love, in the United States you have to kiss someone at the stroke of midnight. It must be done to prevent 365 days filled with loneliness. The exact origin of this tradition is unknown, but it’s believed to have originated in Ancient Rome which celebrated the Saturnalia festival from 17th to 23rd December.

The Saturnalia festival? Precisely. Ancient Romans celebrated Saturnalia to welcome winter in honour of the main god, Saturn. There are even theories that Christmas originated there. Either way, party guests kissed each other. And the midnight kiss tradition in the United States is believed to have originated from there.

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New Year’s Eve tradition in Germany: Dinner for one

Dinner for one is a short film from 1963. Since then, it has been broadcast every 31st December on German public television. It is a film adaptation of a play by Lauri Wylie. The film tells the story of an old woman who, as every year, wants to celebrate her birthday with her friends. The issue: they have been dead for more than 25 years! So the waiter has to play their role.

This tradition of bringing the family together in front of the screen is not unique to Germany. The short film is broadcast in this or other versions in countries such as Australia, Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Denmark, Luxembourg, Sweden and Switzerland.

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Danish New Year’s tradition: breaking plates

The Danish save up plates throughout the year to throw on New Year’s Eve. On 31st December, friends and relatives smash plates against the doors after the Christmas dinner. It is a way of wishing good luck to the family. Those with a big pile of dishes in front of their house have many friends and will have a lot of luck in the upcoming year.

Jumping off a chair: a New Year’s Eve tradition in Denmark

Another interesting Danish tradition is to climb up on a chair a few seconds before midnight. At the stroke of 12, you must jump off of it. This jump symbolises a leap into the new year.

Eating lentils: a New Year’s Eve tradition in Italy.

On the notte di San Silvestro, a lentil dish – a symbol of wealth – is a must on the table. The more you eat, the luckier you’ll be in the coming year. This tradition is not exclusive to Italy, but is also celebrated by some families in Chile.

Japanese New Year’s tradition: 108 bells

If you have read our article on Christmas traditions, you’ll know that Christmas in Japan is thought of as a romantic holiday. However, the New Year is a celebration with a deep-rooted tradition and many rituals. For instance, at the stroke of midnight, the temples ring their bells 108 times. In Buddhism, it is believed that there are 108 earthly desires that cause suffering. That night, the bells symbolise a spiritual cleanse.

Toshikoshi soba, a traditional Japanese New Year’s Eve dinner

In addition to the 108 chimes, Japanese people participate in a special deep cleaning of their home to purify it. Also, a toshikoshi soba noodle dish is served for dinner. The long noodles denote prosperity and long life.

Burning the old year: a New Year’s Eve tradition in Ecuador

This tradition originated in an epidemic that hit Ecuador. The clothes of those who died of the disease were burned to avoid contamination and the bodies would be cleaned. The tradition continued, but today it is a cause for celebration: friends and family gather around a bonfire to burn dolls stuffed with newspapers. This custom is also common in other Latin American countries.

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New Year in Haiti: a double celebration and soup

1st January marks Haitian Independence Day. The country celebrates by eating joumou, a squash-based soup that was forbidden for slaves. Nowadays, Haitians share the soup with their family and friends to celebrate their freedom. Everyone brings their own and shares with others and gets to try everyone else’s joumou. Everyone does it a little differently.

New Year’s Eve tradition in Colombia: placing three potatoes under the bed

The tradition is to place three potatoes – one peeled, one unpeeled, and one half peeled – under each family member’s bed. At midnight, they pull out the first potato they touch. Unpeeled indicates a year of good fortune, peeled means the person will have financial problems and the half peeled means something in between.

Fishing: a New Year’s Day tradition in Canada

Don’t picture an idyllic sail on a calm river. In Canada, there is a tradition of ice fishing on New Year’s Day. If you are lucky, the fish is then shared with the whole family in a hut with a fireplace.

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Serving round pieces of fruit: a New Year’s Eve tradition in the Philippines

The spherical shape in the Philippines is key to ending a year. This shape attracts prosperity and good luck for the coming year as it resembles a coin. For this reason, round pieces of fruit are served on New Year’s Eve and people must wear polka-dotted clothing.

Walking around with a suitcase: a New Year’s Eve tradition in Mexico and Colombia

Fancy a trip? In Mexico and Colombia, as the clock strikes midnight on 31st December, people walk around the neighbourhood with empty suitcases. This portends a year full of adventure and travel.

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Melting lead: a New Year’s tradition in Finland and Germany

In some countries there is a tradition of melting lead on a spoon. This molten lead is then poured into water and the resulting shape reveals your fate for the year ahead. A ring promises a wedding; a boat – travel; and a pig – food.


Toasting with bubbles: a universal New Year’s Eve ritual

Despite the different traditions, there is one custom shared amongst almost all of us. People not only understand one another through translation but also through bubbles. With champagne, cava, or the incredible regional sparkling wines produced nowadays, a festive atmosphere is guaranteed. And there’s no doubt that the best way to welcome the new year is with a ding, which portends joy and good luck.

Sparkling wines are part of any celebration and the process of making them is an exciting world. Do you plan to export your wine this year? We congratulate you and invite you to read our blog post on translation in the wine sector and the benefits it brings.


Another universal New Year’s Eve ritual: fireworks

Another common New Year’s Eve tradition is fireworks. The light and shape shows enchant all spectators and we cannot imagine a New Year’s Eve without them. Nonetheless, extreme caution should be taken, as they can harm both animals and humans. That’s the last thing we want during a celebration. Fortunately for the latter, some ingenious minds have developed pet-friendly pyrotechnics.


New Year’s Eve tradition in Spain: eating twelve grapes

We are all familiar with this simple tradition. Midnight, 12 chimes, one grape per chime. And yet, things can get really tricky! The grapes can be too large, there might be seeds, the clock may chime too fast. Some even break with tradition and choose Smarties instead. But one thing is clear: the chimes, the Puerta del Sol in Madrid and the grapes are a must when celebrating the New Year.

This tradition is also followed in other countries such as Mexico. And did you know that other countries have a tradition of eating 12 raisins? For instance, Portugal. It’s a safer bet for sure… but less tasty!


We’re in Barcelona so we’ll be celebrating the chimes at the Montjuïc Magic Fountain with bubbles and grapes. And where will you celebrate the last night and the beginning of the new year? The most important thing is to do it in good company and attract good luck!

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