15 New Year Rituals around the World

In almost every corner of the globe, both adults and children are waiting for New Years’ time. It is the time when you make wishes and wait for their fulfillment with great faith. Almost every corner of the globe has special New Year rituals, which are interesting to learn.

1. New Year in Japan. 

Japan is the country that gave the world the most important traditions: to celebrate the New Year in new clothes, build ice sculptures and castles. Nevertheless, the most unusual tradition is that the Japanese buy a rake before the New Year to rake up happiness and prosperity.

2. The most famous tradition in Spain for the New Year is eating 12 green grapes.

Grapes in Spain symbolize wealth, happiness and health. On New Year’s Eve, they dine with their family at home or in restaurants, but after, they go outside.

3. New Year traditions in Belgium revolve around four whales: Church attendance, fortune telling, games and getting rid of evil spirits. 

What is more interesting is that there are two Santa Claus figures – St. Niklaas and Pere Noel. Pere Noel visits children who speak Walloon language while St. Niklaas visits those who speak French. 

4. New Year in Brazil is a summer holiday because December 31 is the time of sun, heat, and beaches for Brazilians. 

Officially, the holiday is called Confraternização, which literally means “fraternization”. But another more common French name is Reveillon. 

In Brazil, there is a tradition to count aloud the last seconds of the outgoing year, wishing each other ” Feliz Ano Novo!”- “Happy New year!” and drinking champagne during the fireworks.

5. New Year in Ireland is a whole string of traditions, a tangle of cultural superstitions and echoes of the past. 

Before the New Year, the girls put collected herbs – mistletoe, clover, ivy, lavender under a pillow. According to an old belief, on New Year’s Eve, you can see your future groom. It is customary to meet New Year with loved ones; it helps to strengthen family ties and brings wealth to the family. A mandatory dish is a cookie or cake with cumin. All families cook it, and recipes pass from generation to generation. 

6. The New Year hero of Germany is everyone’s favorite Santa Claus, who appears in Germany on a donkey.

On New Year’s Eve, children before going to bed prepare a special plate for gifts. According to tradition, they put hay in boots for the donkey. 

Raising a glass of champagne, the Germans say “Prosit Neujahr” or “Prost Neujahr”. The word “Prost” comes from Latin and means”it can work out.” Thus, the people of Germany congratulate each other on the New Year.

7. The date of the Chinese New Year is determined by the lunar calendar: the holiday falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice on December 21.

Thus, each time the New Year in China falls on different dates of the Gregorian calendar, between January 21 and February 20. New Year in China is the main celebration and a great occasion to gather the whole family. The Chinese themselves call the new year the holiday of Spring.

The history of this holiday has more than 4000 years. Moreover, in China there is such a thing as Benmingnian – this is the so-called code of Fate. Those codes composed of zodiac animals. For example, 2020 is the year of Rat. People who born in the year of the Rat are believed that they are destined for trials and unexpected changes. 

8. In addition to the generally accepted December 31 and the famous Chinese New Year on the lunar calendar, Thailand celebrates another New Year, called Songkran.

The Traditional Thai New year is celebrated on April 13. Songkran “translates as the movement from one place to another or the rotation of the Earth around the Sun”. Full circle means the arrival of the long-awaited New Year.  

People in Thailand meet New Year with their relatives, for this purpose 2 additional days off were introduced. Alms to monks is a mandatory part of the New Year holidays. During the celebrations, Thais go to the monasteries to bring gifts. Moreover, they pour water as a sign of respect, wishing at the same time purity of thoughts, liberation from the hardships of the outgoing year.

9. New Year is the most beloved and expected holiday in Russia.

Relatives gather on the evening of December 31 to meet New Year with a table covered with all sorts of festive dishes. Traditional Russian New Year’s table dishes are salads “Olivie” and “herring under a fur coat.” In Russia, “new year” fruit is considered tangerines. They drink a glass of champagne with a peal of bells and make a wish! 

Father Frost is the main character of the New Year. He is a kind magical old man with a white beard in a red, white or blue coat and boots. He always comes with his granddaughter Snow Maiden. Also, he visits children in a carriage with three horses.

10. In Denmark, everyone is looking forward to the New Year.

The brightest New Year tradition of the Danes is the breaking old dishes under their friends’ doors. The whole year they keep old plates and mugs, and on the eve of the holiday, they go to beat them to their friends’ threshold. Moreover, most surprisingly, friends are not angry at all! They even rejoice for that ritual, because the more shards under their door, the more friends they have.

11. New Year in Austria is called-St. Sylvester’s day.

In honor of this Saint, the Austrians prepare a punch of cinnamon, sugar and red wine. Pork and carp are traditional treats on the New Year’s table in Austria. People give each other small chocolate or marzipan Souvenirs for good luck (Glucksbringer) in the form of pigs. Austrian New Year is very bright with confetti, colorful ribbon decorations, and champagne.

12. New Year in Greece. 

Famous New Year’s mascot in Greece is “new year’s onion” – a plant called “sea onion”. They exhibit the root of the sea onion outside of their houses on December 31. On the morning of the first day of the New Year, the father or mother of the family takes a bow from behind the door and lightly taps the sleeping members of the family with it. This means that it is time for all of them to get up and go to Church for the festive service in honor of St. Basil, who is considered Santa Claus in Greece.

13. People in the Philippine display circle-shaped figures on the New Year’s Eve.

According to the Philippines tradition, circle figures represent the coins that symbolize prosperity and wealth in the upcoming year. 

Additionally, families decorate their New Year’s table with all sorts of fruits to attract fruitful and productive new year. 

14. Making loud noises in New Year’s Eve is the most celebrated custom around the world.  

It is not surprising to see people making loud noises during the New Year celebration. They shoot fireworks and guns and ring bells to welcome a new year and send off the old year. It sounds like people make loud noises not only to express their joyful emotions but also scare off the demons. By making those loud noises, people scare off the demons coming into the new year and at the same time, they send off the demons of the old year.

15. To be in a good relationship, kiss a person whom you love on New Year’s Eve.

Kissing is always a sweet action. Kissing whom you love during the New Year’s Eve is especially recommended in some cultures if you want to continue your relationship in the upcoming year. 

Other important New Year rituals are paying your debts and coming to a friendly agreement with the people whom you had a relationship. Supposedly, these new rituals help people to start the new year with fresh beginnings. 

By Arslan Batyrovich

Founder of
Writer, Researcher, Fact-finder, and All-in-one
Loves nature, Likes history, and Adores anything interesting
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