10 fascinating new year traditions from around the world

December 7, 2023

As 2023 draws to a close, you may be starting to think about how you’d like to celebrate New Year’s Eve. 

Whether you like to eat, dance in the street, or have a go at predicting the future, these new year traditions from around the globe could provide some inspiration about how to welcome 2024 in style. 

1. Throwing furniture out the window in Italy

In southern Italy, a particularly unusual tradition on New Year’s Eve is to throw old crockery and furniture out the window. 

The tradition is thought to help make way for better things to come in the new year and is known as “buttare le cose vecchie”, which translates to “throwing out the old things”. 

So, if you’re in Naples at midnight on the 31 December, make sure you watch out for any furniture tumbling down from above! 

2. Grape-eating race, Spain

While you may be used to raising a glass of champagne to toast the new year as the clock strikes midnight, the Spanish take part in an eating contest instead.

Twelve grapes are traditionally eaten at the stroke of midnight, one on each chime of the clock. As you can imagine, it’s no mean feat, but it’s considered bad luck for the year ahead if you’ve any grapes left when the 12th chime has finished. 

3. Collecting round fruit and wearing polka dots in the Philippines

In the Philippines, round shapes are said to bring luck and prosperity. So, on New Year’s Eve, you’ll find a selection of round fruit on the dining table in most homes. 

In addition, it’s considered good luck to wear polka dots on New Year’s Eve. So, many women will wear dresses adorned with spots to see in the new year. 

4. Carrying an empty suitcase in Colombia

If you love to travel, Colombia has a new year tradition that’s perfect for you. 

It’s said that those who take their suitcase for a walk around the block at midnight on 31 December will experience a year full of travel and adventure. Even more strangely, the suitcase can be empty. 

So, if you’ve a long list of places you’d love to visit in 2024, make like the Colombians and grab your suitcase as the clock strikes 12. 

5. Smashing pomegranates in Türkiye

Pomegranates symbolise prosperity and abundance in Türkiye, and many people decorate their homes with them all year round. 

The fruit also has a central role to play in New Year’s Eve celebrations, as people smash a pomegranate on the ground or on their front doorstep. Many believe that the more seeds that explode from your fruit, the better your luck will be for the year to come.  

6. An icy dip in the North Sea in Scotland

In Scotland, New Year’s Eve is known as “Hogmanay” and is celebrated with fireworks and street parties, especially in its capital city Edinburgh. 

A little further north, though, the celebrations turn colder. The “Loony Dook” is held on New Year’s Day in South Queensferry and involves crowds of people jumping into the North Sea at the Firth of Forth. 

In true Scottish fashion, participants are cheered on by crowds of well-wishers, the sound of bagpipes, and a hearty bowl of porridge before they take the plunge. 

7. Spring cleaning and “hong bao” in Singapore

If the icy waters of the North Sea don’t take your fancy, perhaps Singapore’s new year traditions will suit you better. 

Here in the Lion City, it’s customary to greet the Chinese New Year with a spring clean of your home. Traditionally, bamboo leaves are used to sweep as it’s believed that this will ward off evil spirits. 

A further tradition is to give younger relatives “hong bao” – small scarlet paper packets, usually filled with money. These packets are a token of good will for the year to come.

8. Ice fishing in Canada

Ice fishing is a popular winter pastime in Canada, and many Canadians can be found trying their luck out on the lakes as they see in the new year. 

The practice has evolved over many years since the first nation people used it. You can now hire heated huts and all manner of gadgets to help you find, catch, and cook your fish. 

9. Singing Auld Lang Syne in the UK 

Auld Lang Syne is an ancient song that is traditionally sung at events that mark the end of a significant period of time such as graduations and funerals. 

As the clock strikes 12 on New Year’s Eve, Brits cross their arms across their front and join hands with those either side of them. Then, they sing the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne to mark the end of the year just gone. 

10. Tin casting in Finland 

In Finland, a new year tradition is to predict what may happen in the months to come using an old divination practice. 

Finnish families will melt a small piece of tin in a ladle over the stove before throwing the metal into cold water to solidify it into a new shape. The shape that the tin takes is thought to predict the events of the new year. 

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