10 New Year Traditions Around the World

10 New Year Traditions Around the World

From breaking plates to drinking a wish to wearing pink underwear, Musement takes a look at ten different New Year traditions around the world.

As one year comes to a close and we gear up to embrace a new one, we couldn’t help but wonder about the different new year traditions practiced by various citizens of the world. From quirky to rowdy to calm, here is a look at the practices found in ten different cities across the globe.

1) Rome

To celebrate the new year, Italians feast on a hearty meal of cotechino, a creamy pork sausage made from the pig’s hoof and flavored with cloves and nutmeg, coupled with lentils. The cotechino represents abundance while the lentils are believed to bring one affluence and good luck in the forthcoming 12 months.

A repast of cotechino and lentils is an Italian New Year tradition

2) Moscow 

Muscovites and their compatriots are known for writing down one new year wish on a piece of paper which they then burn. The ashes are added to their Champagne, which they then drink at the stroke of midnight. They have 60 seconds to finish their glass of bubbly, otherwise, their wish won’t come true.

Russians drink the ashes of a burned wish with their Champagne on New Year’s Eve.

3) Madrid

It’s rare to find a Madrilenian, or a Spaniard for that matter, who won’t eat their 12 grapes at the 12 strokes of midnight (one for each stroke). Not only is this a Spanish New Year’s tradition, it’s also a superstition, as eating the grapes guarantees 12 lucky months in the forthcoming year.

The Spanish eat 12 grapes at midnight to guarantee good luck in the forthcoming year.

4) Rio de Janeiro 

In addition to ringing in the new year sporting head-to-toe white to ward off bad spirits, it’s also customary for Brazilians to take a dip in the ocean and jump over seven waves, making one wish per wave hurdle. Don’t cry for fthe ate of the inlanders; jumping three times on their right foot or climbing down a stool right foot first are acceptable substitutions.

Brazil’s coastline plays a fundamental part in the New Year’s Eve festivities.

5) Copenhagen

The Danes have a New Year’s tradition that falls a little on the rowdy side. Firstly, they literally jump into the New Year by standing on a chair and jumping on to the ground at the stroke of midnight, which seems more or less harmless, but there’s an aggressive side to the festivities. It’s customary to keep any chipped/broken tableware in a safe place year round, and come New Year’s Eve, break them against the front door of your best friend’s house. They say the more broken tableware sitting on your doorstep in the morning, the more loved you are.

Sweeping up broken tableware is customary on New Year’s Day in Denmark.

6) Zurich

The Swiss believe that dropping ice cream on the floor (repeatedly!) will bring you good luck and affluence in the forthcoming year. We can’t help but wonder about who gets the seemingly less fortunate role of the cleaner upper.

The Swiss drop ice cream on the floor, a practice that ensures good luck for the new year.

7) Buenos Aires

The Argentines have two very particular habits when it comes to the new year. Firstly, it is practically compulsory to feast on beans for a favorable year on the career front. It’s believed that this will provide job security to those happy with their current positions, or a better role on the horizon for those looking to make a move. Also, wearing a brand new pair of pink underwear out and about is practiced by those who hope to get lucky (pun not intended) in love during the upcoming year.

Eating beans is a New Year’s Eve tradition in Argentina.

8) Berlin

So, on the food front, Germans tend to nosh on “pfannkuchens” a rolled, baked pastry often filled with jam or liqueur at midnight. A victim of a practical joke may receive one stuffed with mustard or some other unexpected spicy taste. On the non-food front, lead is considered quite favorable and a a molten form of this element is poured into cold water and whatever shape the lead takes predicts the year ahead (for example a heart indicates love while a cross signifies death).

Pfannkuchens are typical German New Years sweet treats.

9) Tallinn

In this Baltic gem, the Estonians eat at least seven meals (or nine or 12) on New Year’s Day as this is believed to promise abundance for the upcoming year. These are lucky numbers in Estonia and it’s said that as many meals as you eat means you’ll have the strength of that many men for the upcoming year, which is, of course, seen as favorable.

One meal down, six to go. Estonians eat (at least) seven meals on New Year’s Day.

10) Tokyo

The New Year’s Eve tradition that’s very quintessentially Japanese is the tolling of the temple bells…108 times to get rid of the 108 sins that are part of the Buddhist beliefs. It’s believe that this clears everyone of their sins from the previous year. In downtown Tokyo, the Watched Night bell is a major attraction. Bells toll 107 times on 31st and once just after midnight. They also snack on some mochi prepared especially for the holiday.


In honor of the new year, the Japanese ring the bells at Buddhist temples 108 times.

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