Ringing in the new year is always highly anticipated but not all countries celebrate in the same way! Learn the superstitions and traditions that are embraced around the world.
Depending on which part of the world you come from, New Years Eve is celebrated with different – even crazy or hilarious – traditions! From superstitious underwear, good luck dances, and stuffing a particular food into one’s mouth at midnight, countries all over the globe have their own take on what will surely bring great fortune and happiness in the coming year.
New Years Eve means something different to everyone. Some feel somber about another year gone by much too quickly. While others relish in the idea of new opportunities that lie ahead. Personally, I love a fresh start and a quick reflection of the most memorable times of the last twelve months.
And 2020 is a year I don’t think ANYone will feel sad about leaving behind. With many countries still facing tight restrictions, it seems we’re all focused more on better days ahead than on nostalgia for what once was.
While travel is still suspended in many parts of the world, learning how various cultures embrace New Years Eve should bring a sense of hope and anticipation for travel to resume in 2021.
New Years Eve Traditions Celebrated Around the World
Contribution by Lauren at The Expat Chronicle
If I’ve learned anything from living abroad in Barcelona for four years, it’s that this culture marches to the beat of their own drum! And New Years Eve celebrations are no exception.
In Barcelona on New Years Eve, it’s just another reason for locals to head to the streets, light off colorful (and often deafening) fireworks, and party on Barceloneta beach till dawn.
Catalan families typically gather for a special meal before the stroke of midnight. Minutes before 12 o’clock strikes, a popular Spanish tradition also adopted in Madrid as well as in other countries throughout the world, is to stuff twelve grapes into one’s mouth. Each grape represents the chime of twelve bells approaching the new year.
We tried this tradition one year and although the grapes are smaller than the ones you may see sold in bunches at the grocery store, it’s still not an easy task! So I suppose the legend says the person who can accomplish twelve grapes in their mouth is said to have good luck and fortune in the coming year.
Plaza de España and the National Museum of Catalunya Art which sits at the base of the Montjuïc mountain, is the backdrop for the most impressive fireworks display in the city. Thousands gather to watch the light theatrics set to music. This is a free event which begins at 11:45pm but one must be sure to arrive at least two hours early in order to claim their spot.
If fireworks aren’t your thing, the most famous nightclubs and bars in Barcelona such as Luz de Gas and Opium are crawling with visitors destined to ring in the New Year right. Typical closing time? Some establishments will shut their doors at 5 AM, others not until 9 AM the next morning! The Spanish aren’t big on early bedtimes.
Or if you’re more into the food on New Years than anything else, there are a plethora of restaurant options with specialty menus to fancy any appetite. Rooftop dining al fresco, such as that offered at El Palace Hotel, is all the rage in Barcelona and with weather temperatures comfortable in January, one won’t need to worry about layering up much.
Regardless where you find yourself on New Years Eve in Barcelona, one thing is for sure. Bottles of cava, or Spanish champagne, will be flowing! Made from local grapes and can be white (blanco) or rose (rosado), cava is a popular celebratory beverage available in Spain any time throughout the year – but most widely poured on the last eve of the year!
Contribution by Bruna from I Heart Brazil
New Year’s in Brazil equals tons of fun and plenty of superstitions. While not everybody believes or even follows these traditions, a considerable number of people do.
Arguably the most significant New Year’s Eve tradition we have is wearing white clothing. This tradition actually comes from the Afro-Brazilian religion called Candomblé. According to their customs, people wear white during rituals seeking peace and spiritual purification.
And exactly like the spiritual meaning of wearing this color, Brazilians celebrate New Year’s Eve in white clothing, hoping to draw lots of spiritual protection and peace for the upcoming year. The motto here is “new year, new life.”
We indeed wear this color because we wish for peace, but we want more than that. We Brazilians always want more. Why limit ourselves, right?
So to top off our wishes, we use colorful underwear to attract more positive energies for the new year.
It is important to note that each color has a meaning rooted in the meaning of the colors. So, for instance, red underwear is for passion, pink is for love, yellow/gold for money, and so on.
Contribution by Rose at Where Goes Rose?
A unique New Years celebration can be found in Bulgaria in Southwest Europe. Food is a huge part of many cultures’ festive celebrations and Bulgaria is no exception.
The first thing you need to know? Banitsa. This delicious carb-heavy snack is the national dish of Bulgaria. Whisked egg and crumbling white sheep’s cheese (similar to feta) are layered amongst filo pastry and baked in the oven.
They’re eaten throughout the year but are particular during New Years celebrations. For this period, people make special banitsas with wishes written on paper notes and coins inside. Sometimes they also have pieces of dogwood branch with flower buds attached to symbolise luck and happiness for the upcoming year.
Groups of Bulgarians celebrate the changing year by each taking a piece of banitsa and seeing what they find inside. The lucky charm is thought to define the upcoming year, and finding the flowering branch is the ultimate lucky dip!
The tradition of pulling apart the banitsa isn’t reserved for families at dinnertime. Even in lively Sofia bars, you’ll find groups of young people pulling apart these delicious pastries to share the moment with their friends. After a few drinks, they’re just what you’d need!
Contribution by Daniel at Layer Culture
Rather than celebrate the New Year why not ensure the end of the old year goes up in flames? In Colombia a tradition named Año Viejo, which translates literally to “old year” allows locals to chase away the negativity and mishaps of their current year.
As it happens these types of rituals and traditions provide some kind of guarantee that the new year will be a success.
Whilst traveling around the Cauca Valley region of Colombia, I had somewhat of a culture shock when I saw life-like figures stood around all lined up all over the streets. I had no clue what they were about until I ask a local bystander who told me that the tradition is to set fire to these life-like scarecrows as a way of shedding of all the badness one may have accumulated during the year.
Some people even put a note with the figure with their wishes for the coming year. Others will write about all the bad things that happen from the previous year in hope that setting fire to the figure will take all the bad thoughts and emotions away.
As far as New Year traditions go this is definitely a unique and memorable one to learn about.
Contribution by Veronika at Travel Greekery
Typically, Czechs celebrate the New Year’s Eve merrily – on a trip to the mountains with friends, or hosting a party of their own. Open-face sandwiches “chlebíčky” and bite-sized treats called “jednohubky” cannot be missing.
It’s customary to stroll outside for the midnight, ideally somewhere with the best view of fireworks. In Prague it’s usually one of the hilltop parks, such as Riegrovy Sady or Letná.
Since carp is the most traditional meal for Christmas, many people keep a carp scale or two in their wallet or put it under their plate while eating. That way they’re making it easier for a fortune to find its way to them. Lentils have the same effect too, so cooking a lentil soup to eat on New Year’s is always a good idea. You never know what might help, right?
Also, we have a saying “How on a New Year day, the same for the rest of the New Year” meaning that whatever you do or whatever happens to you on January 1st, might be your reality for the rest of the year. Of course everyone knows that’s not true, but the first day of a new year makes one more motivated to stick to resolutions and thus feel good about themselves.
Contribution by Derek & Mike at Robe Trotting
We’ve been living in Copenhagen for four years and have celebrated many fun New Years Eve nights. The evening begins for the whole country of Denmark at 6:00 PM with the Queen’s New Year’s Address. Each year at the same time, everyone across Denmark tunes in to hear from their beloved monarch, Queen Margrethe II.
Next is dinner – most Danes celebrate New Years Dinner the same way, with a catered meal at someone’s home. Restaurants and other vendors sell pre-made “take and bake” meals that you heat up and serve for guests. They average around $50 USD so it’s pretty reasonable. The dinner ends with kransekage – a Danish confection for special occasions like New Year’s Eve.
At 11:40 everyone watches an old British sketch comedy called “Dinner for One” or “90th Birthday”. It originally aired in Germany in 1963 but is now part of the Danish New Year celebration.
At 11:50 the TV networks switch to a live feed of the clock on Copenhagen City Hall. The whole nation counts down to midnight together and we jump off the couch. Yes, we “jump into the New Year” by standing on the couch and jumping off at 12:00 AM.
The fireworks then begin and go well into the night. In Denmark, you can only buy fireworks between Christmas and New Years, so Danes get pretty excited for the chance to light up the sky.
Contribution by Kat at Wandering Bird
If you’re planning an England trip over New Year’s Eve, the way you celebrate it will depend entirely on which part of the country you happen to be in.
There are some things which are traditional all over the country. Most people link arms and sing Auld Lang Syne just after the stroke of midnight (which is traditionally Scottish but we’ve stolen it!) and then we toast to health and happiness.
If at home, we watch the TV and listen for the tones of Big Ben counting down the last few second of the year before welcoming in the new one. We also enjoy the fireworks over London (unless you’re lucky enough to be in the city itself, in which case you can enjoy the atmosphere in person.
If Christmas is for family, New Years is for friends. In ‘normal times’, many of us will enjoy a drink (or 5) at the local pub- but DO NOT rely on a taxi to take you home afterwards… you won’t get one.
If you’re anywhere even close to the sea, beware. Many MANY people will enjoy a ‘bracing’ dip in the ocean to welcome in the new year… some places even go as far as to wear fancy dress and make an event of it (and yes- it is as cold as you think it will be!) You’ll also find many 5k charity runs- often with people dressed up in Santa suits regretting the Champagne from the night before!
Key West, Florida
Contribution by Lori at Travelin Mad
If you’re looking for a new tropical oasis to kick-off the New Year, head to Key West, Florida, for one of the best celebrations on the planet.
Temps in the mid-80’s (F) are perfect for swimming or snorkeling in the warm surrounding waters. The holiday season in Key West means parties, time spent with friends, and being in or on the water. Taking a sunset champagne cruise for snorkeling and an amazing sunset is a must-do.
During this festive time of year, the Conch Republic has something for everyone, families included. By day, soak up the sun by the pool or at Smathers Beach, then dine on fresh Florida lobster and a slice of key lime pie.
After dinner, head to Mallory Square for the fun sunset celebration.
Of all the annual celebrations in Key West, ringing in the New Year might just be the best. Get started with the ‘pub crawl’ along Duval Street to join in the party.
At midnight, you have a choice of entertainment. Watch as Sushi, Bourbon Street Bar’s favorite Drag Queen, is lowered into a shoe of bubbly champagne, or catch the giant conch shell dropping at Sloppy Joe’s, or a pirate wench being lowered from the mast of a tall ship at the Schooner Wharf Bar. The party lasts for days!
Be sure and book your accommodations well ahead of time. The best airbnbs are in Old Town, but expect to book a minimum 5-night stay which is the norm at this time of year. Key West for New Years? How can you go wrong!!
Contribution by Paulina at Paulina on the Road
Madrid, Spain is popularly known as one of the best destinations for New Year’s Eve celebrated around the world. The last night of the year takes the city on a journey of long nightlife. The city is a combination of both cozy and luxurious eve.
Whether you want to spend an evening at home or be at the popular Gatsby-Esque Gala, you can do both.
As the clock hits midnight, all the locals and tourists do not wait to dive right into the prior Spanish tradition of the new year-eating grapes! It isn’t only a tradition; it holds meaning. People eat 12 grapes and they have to eat one every time the clock chimes. After that, the celebration shifts to clubs and restaurants all night long.
The tradition is followed by visiting Debod Temple the next morning and watching the first sunrise of the year. You might also notice the shops in Madrid selling red underwear as New Year’s Eve comes closer. Locals consider it as a symbol of good luck and welcoming love in the new year. The important thing- the underwear must be gifted to you by somebody else.
Apart from the traditions, New Year’s Eve in Madrid is full of Champagne and a delicious breakfast. However, these are also a part of the tradition. Locals believe that having Champagne brings good fortune. At the same time, having hot thick chocolate with churros at San Gines is a tradition specific to Madrid.
Contribution by Julien at Cultures Traveled
New Year’s Eve customs in Mexico are steeped in symbolism and superstition with some fireworks thrown in for good measure. Given the history, several of them overlap with other Latin cultures, including Spain. Let’s start with some of the more tranquilo traditions.
To bring good luck to the new year, Mexicans eat grapes at the stroke of midnight. In order for your 12 wishes to come true, you must eat 12 grapes (one for each month) within the first 60 seconds of the new year.
And for those that wish to travel in the new year, grab your suitcase and walk around the block after midnight. Mexico tradition states that doing so will bring you lots of opportunities to travel!
Out with the old, in with the coins? There are two traditions involving brooms for New Year’s in Mexico. Sweeping towards the outside of the house makes sense in an effort to sweep the old energy out and bring in the new. But some people take it a step further by dropping 12 coins on the ground and sweeping them into the house for financial prosperity in the new year.
Mexico’s New Year’s Eve traditions also extend to the color of your underwear! Choose the color red to bring love and passion to your life or yellow to bring prosperity and happiness. One thing everyone agrees on? No black clothes for New Year’s celebrations.
This last Mexican New Year’s Eve tradition gets a bit rowdy. Similar to several South American traditions, Mexican families create a life size figure by stuffing old clothes with flammables and fireworks. Then they set it on fire in the middle of the street.
The fire starts off slowly as it creeps up the pant legs and sets off each explosive, which sound off like individual fireworks. It’s just another symbolic way to say out with the old man/woman/way of living and in with the new.
Contribution by Annalisa at Travel Connect Experience
In Italy, New Year’s Eve is generally characterized by 3 elements: a long dinner, live music in the historic centers of towns and cities, and fireworks. The most famous city to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Italy is Naples, which overlooks the sea, framed by the profile of the volcano Vesuvius.
On this special evening, the locals eat the catch of the day. Those who want to eat at the restaurant (the menu is usually fixed and dinner costs around 150 euros per person) must book well in advance. Highlights include sauteed mussels, homemade pasta with seafood, and baked fish.
Those who have dinner at home, after finishing eating enjoy the traditional board game called Tombola. Tombola is similar to bingo but more intimate. In Naples, there is an ancient custom of assigning each of the 90 numbers of the game a word or expression. The tradition is also linked to a method of interpreting dreams (if an individual dreams of a certain object or situation, he or she can check the popular Neapolitan dreams’ dictionary for the corresponding number to play the lottery).
At 10:30 the concert begins in the picturesque Piazza del Plebiscito, in front of the Royal Palace. Shortly before midnight, people walk to the seafront. At midnight sharp an unforgettable show begins on Posillipo Hill. Fireworks are set off from all the houses, highlighting the beauty of the coast even more. The people living in the city enjoy the fireworks set on the hill, while the people living on the hill enjoy those set in the city.
There is a sort of dialogue going on, or “race”. The show-off is ignited by the awareness that those living on the hills are “rich” families, while the working class gathers in the city. At 12:45 am, behind the ancient Castel dell Ovo on the bay, from two boats anchored offshore are set off the fireworks funded by the City, a show that lasts half an hour and renowned all over Italy.
At the end of the shows, the luckiest people go home to perform another propitiatory rite that originates from the popular saying “Those who make it on New Year’s Eve make it all year long…”
Contribution by Dymphe at Dymabroad
New Year’s Eve is a great time to be in the Netherlands and one of the best things of Amsterdam in winter. This is a special night in the country that you should not miss out on.
Often family or friends gather for an evening of great fun. While they are together they often eat oliebollen. Oliebollen are doughnut balls, a typical Dutch treat. They come in two types, one with raisins and one without raisins and topped off with powdered sugar.
These oliebollen are truly delicious! 10 seconds to midnight there is a countdown on television that people often watch. After that, people say ‘Happy New Year’ and drink champagne.
Then, it is time for fireworks. In the Netherlands everyone can set off their own fireworks. When you go to a rooftop this makes for a beautiful sight to see as you see fireworks all around you! Besides setting off fireworks on their own, people often go to organized fireworks throughout their city.
Setting off fireworks is seen as a way to blast into the new year. Furthermore on New Year’s Day, an annual event in the Netherlands is the New Year’s Dive. Thousands of people start the first day of the new year by diving in the extremely frigid North Sea.
New York City
Contribution by Victoria at Tori-Leigh
New Years Eve in New York City is a once in a lifetime experience rivaled by no other.
The iconic celebration began on December 31, 1904; the owner of The New York Times, Adolph Ochs, opened the newspaper’s headquarters (One Times Square) by ringing in the new year with fireworks. The first “ball drop” rung in 1908, in a much larger celebration commissioned by Ochs.
Today, the event is run by the Times Square Alliance, and welcomes around one million street spectators in midtown Manhattan. Witnesses will see the ball light up at 6pm and enjoy the New Year’s Rockin’ Eve musical performances, before the epic ball drop at midnight. The ball drop is followed by a fireworks show, set to Auld Lang Syne.
Guests arrive the morning of New Year’s Eve with no intention of leaving their post, regardless of the absence of public restrooms. At some point, typically when the area reaches capacity, guests will not be allowed to leave or enter.
Alternatively, Times Square area restaurants and bars host elaborate New Year’s Eve parties, with prime indoor viewing locations. Reservations must be made months in advance, and NYPD officers will typically escort attendees to ensure rules are followed.
If Times Square doesn’t pique your interest, there are a number of other parties and events around the city. Plus, with all of the New Your City Christmas festivities running through the New Year, it’s a festive trip well spent.
Contribution by Chisom at The Awesome Traveler Blog
All over the world, the New year is the celebration and start of something new, just as Christmas is the celebration of all the times past. In Nigeria, the festive period of Christmas and new year is a great opportunity to travel home and lavish your family with endless love.
In fact, it has become a norm to travel home for that new year. So many people work very hard through the year just so they can have enough to throw a feast for their loved ones and family members.
Most people over here travel home when it’s close to Christmas and they stay through the new year which is celebrated with drinks, parties, carnivals (costumes, street parades, dance and local delicacies) and masquerade appearances in the Eastern and southern part of Nigeria.
Of course there are others who take the new year seriously, they spend the night before the new year at their various place of worship. For them it is important that they enter the new year in the presence of their MAKER.
Then there are the party revelers who believe that celebrating the new year brings good luck and happiness. However, immediately the clock strikes twelve, the night comes alive with fireworks from both the revelers and worshipers who come out to shout “Happy New Year!” while they dance and sing.
It is truly amazing and the celebration is quite contagious. This is expected as it’s a happy moment, a celebration of life and continuity.
Contribution by Arabela at The Spicy Travel Girl
Celebrating New Year in Peru is a loud, fun, and yellow affair. The color yellow is believed to bring good luck for the new year and therefore an integral part of Peruvian New Year.
Weeks before the celebration, the streets of Lima are therefore full of vendors selling everything yellow, from balloons to garlands and most importantly, underwear. Yes, you heard that right. Selling underwear publicly on the street may sound strange to some people, however, yellow underwear is perhaps the greatest New Year lucky charm for Peruvians. It’s believed that wearing yellow underwear for New Year is imperative for an auspicious new year, so it’s important that everyone has the chance to buy it.
New Year celebrations themselves are huge parties that last from the evening until late into the night. They are loud, fun, and full of pisco sour, Peru’s favorite cocktail.
However, there is no food until midnight. At exactly twelve o’clock, people raise their glasses, light firecrackers, which is illegal in many places but nevertheless widely practiced, and take their suitcases and run three rounds around the block. This fun tradition promises a big trip in the new year – who would mind doing some cardio in exchange for that?
After the excitement settles down, people return to their homes and finally eat the food that had so long been waiting for them – usually a variety of heavy cold salads and delicious Creole dishes.
It’s also useful to note that Peru is located in the southern hemisphere. This means that in many parts of the country, people have the chance to celebrate New Year in light dresses rather than heavy coats.
Contribution by Catherine at Die Kaisers on a Camper
A few days before the New Year comes, every family in the Philippines starts preparing for the celebration. They clean all the house corners, including doors, windows, ceilings, and its vicinity, besides keeping everything tidy and clean.
It is believed that when everything’s uncluttered, it makes space for good luck. In terms of food preparation, someone must serve something long and sticky must be done on the table like pasta, pancit (Filipino’s favorite dried noodle), and rice cake. Glutinous foods mean attracting more luck in your life as they stick.
Moreover, 12 types of different round fruits such as watermelon and grapes are carefully placed on the table covered with red cloth and admired. Round also means money and this means the money will keep rolling into your pocket and your house. In addition to that, everyone in the family must wear something red, brand new, and with a polka dot pattern.
Filipinos pray and say grace together before eating the served traditional foods, ask for a bountiful year ahead when midnight strikes. Everyone should enjoy the meal, eat a lot and won’t sleep too soon. Besides, one must not be sleeping when midnight comes, as this means you might be sleeping and be lazy for the rest of the year.
Additionally, cooking or serving chicken must be avoided as this brings scarcity “ Isang kahig isang tuka.” In English, “ One scratch, one peck” only enough. Not more than enough.
On the other hand, every member of the family must be happy and avoid feeling downcast as it may cause bad luck. In order to do this, one should sing, dance, and make everything loud by blowing the trumpet, horn, or anything that can create a loud noise. In this way, evil spirits will be terrified and move away, thus bringing endless good fortune.
All of these traditions have been believed, followed, and practiced in every Filipino household, and it’s remarkably astounding.
Contribution by Karolina at Lazy Travel Blog
New Year’s Eve starts like any other day in Poland. People are going to work but they leave it a bit earlier. It is all because they need to get ready for the celebrations!
Poles are spending New Year’s Eve either at home or they are leaving for a gala party. Like in many other countries in the world, they are waiting for midnight and open a bottle of champagne when the clock hand moves to 12.
It is time for the wishes, kisses, and watching the fireworks shows.
What’s unique to Poland, is a New Year’s day superstition. It is believed that if you want to be lucky in the newly started year, the first person that enters your house must be a man.
I am a native Pole, and I remember that every New Year’s day my mom used to ask my grandpa to come to visit us early in the morning. He was the first person we welcomed at our home every year.
Looking back, I think it is a lovely tradition. Obviously, I don’t believe anything can bring you luck (or bad luck) for the entire year but it is definitely a Polish tradition worth knowing
Contribution by Julie Dawn Fox at Julie Dawn Fox in Portugal
If you’re celebrating New Year’s Eve in Portugal, expect fireworks at midnight, especially in Funchal, Madeira, where the wide bay is famously lit with bursts of colour. All major Portuguese towns and cities normally have free open air concerts in the main square or avenue and fireworks displays to bring in the New Year.
The tradition, when the clock strikes twelve, is to eat twelve raisins and wash them down with some espumante (the Portuguese version of Champagne) before eating, drinking and dancing the night away.
A more discreet but perhaps more important tradition is to make sure you’re wearing your lucky pants. By this, I mean choose the colour of your underwear wisely as it will affect your fortunes in the year to come.
If you’re looking for love or increased passion in your relationship, wear red knickers. For good fortune and prosperity, yellow is the way to go. Blue is the colour you need for tip top health, while white will bring you peace and happiness.
Whatever you do, don’t wear black underwear as it brings bad luck!
Contribution by Raluca at Travel with a Spin
Masked dances, performed on New Year’s Eve, are probably the most
colorful and spectacular traditions related to the winter festivities in Romania. Their origins go back hundreds of years and rely on the strong agrarian roots of the country, as well as Pre-Christian beliefs.
On the last day of the year, groups of young people dressed in costumes go from door to door and perform peculiar theatrical performances. They bring to life characters such as the gipsy, the emperor, the elder, the military or the devil.
In the center of it all, there’s usually an animal that dies and is brought back to life by the power of magic. This symbolizes the death of the old year and beginning of a new and better one. The ritual is supposed to purify and fertilize the soil for the following crops. The most common masked dances are The Bear Dance, The Goat, The Little Horses and The Masked Men.
The masks used are usually handcrafted from fur, wood, beans, rugs and colorful materials. It’s not uncommon to pass them from one generation to the next.
The dances are usually accompanied by drum beats and loud shouts. It can get very noisy and this is how it should be. It all goes back to an old belief that says that noises will scare away the evil spirits of the year passed. The carolers receive food and money as a reward.
Nowadays, with modernization, masked dances can mostly be seen in the countryside, remote areas and winter festivals.
Contribution by Claudia at Strictly Sardinia
New Years Eve in Sardinia is typically a very lively affair, and locals – whether in Alghero, renowned for its New Years Eve concerts, or in Cagliari, which only in the last 15 years started putting more effort in the public celebrations – celebrate it in a variety of ways.
Whether we want to keep our New Years’ Eve a low key or a spectacular one, a few things are never missing. Lots of food, music and dancing, and seeing family and friends. But there are more things that we believe in, and which make our New Years even more fun.
We are convinced that wearing brand new red underwear will bring us luck in the new year. This seems relatively easy as anyone can go buy a pair of red undies but no – it has to be something that was gifted.
We eat lentils and cotechino – which actually is a traditional dish of Emilia Romagna, and we associate lentils with money and argue that the more lentils we eat, the more money we’ll get in the new year.
Finally, we think that to get rid of anything bad that happened in the year that has just ended, and to welcome the new year, we should throw old things out of the window – not exactly ecological, nor safe.
Needless to say, none of these beliefs has ever been proved true. Yet, we continue doing it. Well perhaps except the last one!
Contribution by Allen at Its Sometimes Sunny in Bangor
New Year’s Eve, known as Hogmanay in Scotland, shares similar modern traditions as many cultures these days, with mass gatherings, the countdown to midnight, and the fireworks display.
But there are also more intimate traditions celebrated locally and nationwide that are slightly more obscure than those now known worldwide.
Firstly, before the new year arrives, it is important for families to ‘Clean the House’ and ‘Clear the Bills’ to give a fresh clean start and good luck for the year ahead. On New Year’s Eve there will then be gatherings of family and friends to share traditional Scottish food and drink (Scotch a popular choice) to ring in the New Year.
At midnight the traditional rendition of Auld Lang Syne is especially significant as the now-global tradition originated in Scotland and was written by the renowned Scottish poet Rabbie Burns. This is often done with revellers linking arms in a circle for the final verse of the song.
After midnight it is first-footing where it is said it is that the first person to enter the house in the new year should be a tall dark-haired male, and this tradition is thought to be from Viking times, when the thought of a blonde-haired stranger was more a cause of fear.
This first-footer should also bring symbolic gifts, traditionally salt and coal although there are variations, which bring good fortune for the year ahead.
Southern United States
Contribution from Megan at Virginia Travel Tips
One of the biggest traditions in the southern U.S. for New Year’s Day is to eat black-eyed peas for good luck and prosperity into the new year. Another tradition pairs it with Hoppin’ John. These black-eyed peas are cooked with a fatty pork meat or substance in order to infuse flavor and they are cooked with chopped onions and served with a peppery vinegar sauce.
This Southern tradition allegedly goes all the way back to the Civil War era when Sherman’s Union Army looked through Confederate food supplies to scour for something to eat.
The northerners took everything but left behind the black eyed peas and salty pork because they did not view it as food that humans should put in their bodies. As a result, the Southerners felt lucky to have been left with food for the long winter months ahead and ever since then, black eyed peas and salted pork have been considered lucky foods.
Other legends state that eating black eyed peas for good luck on New Year’s Day has been around for over 1,500 years and has Jewish roots.
Regardless of the reason why the legume is eaten on New Year’s Day, it has retained its popularity and can be found on menus all the way from Oxford, Mississippi to Abingdon, Virginia, and beyond. It is usually served alongside collard greens and other Southern foods throughout the winter season.
Contribution from Nick at Spiritual Travels
In the subtropical island nation of Taiwan, New Year’s Eve is celebrated in the same way as many other places: with a fireworks display in the capital city, Taipei. But this fireworks display is like no other. At midnight, thousands of fireworks are shot from the sides of towering Taipei 101, once the world’s tallest building. Hundreds of thousands of people crowd into the streets below to watch the fireworks explode above their heads as they welcome in the new year.
In past years the government has hired world-famous artists such as Cai Guo-Qiang to plan the awesome fireworks display, which that year included a dragon of fireworks spiraling its way up the 508-meter skyscraper. In more recent years, the display has included a combination of lights and lasers. Besides watching the fireworks from below, some choose to climb hills and mountains surrounding the city for bird’s eye views of the display.
Because Taiwan traditionally follows the lunar calendar like several other Asian countries, they have a second New Year’s to look forward to, usually 1-2 months after the calendar New Year. Lunar New Year, also called Chinese New Year, is the most important holiday in Taiwan, when locals take a week off to gather with their relatives, feast for days on end, pray in temples, give red envelopes filled with cash to kids, and of course, shoot off even more fireworks.