12 Fascinating New Year’s Eve Traditions from Around The World
Need more luck or good fortune next year? Try these New Year's Eve traditions from around the world.
We usher out the last day of the year with cocktails, ball drops and fireworks. Elsewhere, symbolism plays a big role in this final holiday of the season. Find out how you can get in on these traditions, too.
Just before midnight on New Year’s Eve, the Japanese eat soba noodles. The Toshikoshi Soba, which means “year crossing buckwheat noodle” has lots of symbolism. The long noodle denotes the crossing from one year to the next and the easy-to-nibble noodles signify a letting go of the past year’s regrets, a cutting-off if you will, before the fresh start the new year brings.
Soba noodles are the main ingredient in this light and savory dish.
In Spain, with 12 seconds remaining until the New Year, people eat 12 green grapes to bring good luck in the coming year. It’s thought to be bad luck if you can’t eat them all by the final midnight chime. But gobble them down in time and 12 months of good fortune will come your way.
You can give this tradition a try with any one of the yummy grape recipes.
The French ring in the New Year with a huge feast, commonly know as le réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre. The meal is full of traditional, decadent eats, including foie gras, oysters, lobster and escargot. And, just like in the U.S., champagne is the drink of choice.
Plan your feast with one of our French-inspired recipes.
Italians revere lentils for their coin-like shape, symbolizing luck and prosperity. Their New Year’s Eve dinner usually features this legume to ensure luck in the coming year. They add pork to lentil dishes in the form of cotechino, a spicy sausage, or zampone, a deboned pig trotter, to represent the plenitude of the land.
May this lentil soup bring you good taste and good fortune in the New Year.
On the last night of the year, Colombians place three potatoes—one peeled, one unpeeled, and one half peeled—under their bed. At midnight, they pull out the first potato they grab. Peeled means they’ll have financial problems, unpeeled indicates abundance, and half peeled…well, somewhere in between.
Instead of potentially cursing yourself for the year ahead, we recommend leaving this tradition to the Colombians and enjoying au gratin potatoes instead.
Australian celebrate like we do here in the States. Fireworks herald the New Year in cities and towns throughout the country. The countdown begins and at midnight sparks fly. Displays are launched off bridges, such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, jetties along the beaches, and on river banks, with the lights of the fireworks sparkling off the water and drawing huge crowds. Assorted picnics are shared as people arrive hours early to ensure the best viewing spots.
Filipino culture celebrates the New Year by serving twelve round fruits. The round produce symbolizes coins—which represent prosperity and wealth for each month of the upcoming year. Apples, melons, oranges and grapes are popular picks, but any round fruit will do.
After a traditional New Year’s Eve meal of boiled cod with mustard, the Danes eat a tower of marzipan doughnuts called kransekage, meaning “wreath” or “doughnut” cake. It was once called overflødighedshorn (cornucopia), because the whole donut tower was tipped on its side, with chocolate and treats spilling out. This traditional cake is also served at weddings and birthdays.
In rural areas of Canada, New Year’s Eve is a time to spend ice fishing with friends. Celebrations on the frozen ponds and rivers tend to last all night as buddies fish in the open or in purpose-built fishing shacks and perhaps catch a fish or two to help celebrate the coming year.
How fun would it be to catch your fish and host a fish bake on New Year’s Day?
The Irish have a tradition of banging bread against the walls of their house on New Year’s Eve. The idea is that bad luck and evil spirits are chased away and good luck invited in. It’s also done to ensure that the coming year is filled with an abundance of bread and other food.
We suggest banging this crusty homemade bread against the wall, but not so hard that you can’t eat it afterward.
In Brazil, particular foods are eaten to ensure the attraction of good luck for the coming year. Seven is the lucky number on New Year’s Eve, so seven pomegranate seeds are eaten to keep the purse full and seven grapes to ensure abundance in all areas of life. Some Brazilians also jump over seven waves in the ocean and make seven wishes for the new year as they leap.
We recommend that you toss those seven pomegranate seeds into this cranberry pomegranate margarita and then toast the year ahead.
The Greeks ring in the new year by eating vasilopita, a sweet yeast bread. Eaten at midnight, the bread is made in honor of Greece’s revered St. Basil. Before serving the family, beginning with the older member, households set a slice of bread aside for the saint and a portion for the poor. A coin is baked into the bread and the person whose slice contains the coin is in for a year filled with good fortune.
You can give this tradition a shot with any one of these warm and wonderful breads.