New Year’s Eve Traditions Around the World

Posted on Dec 29 2013 - 10:00am by Ave

2014 is just 3 days away! Normally the end of the year is celebrated with parades, fireworks, new year’s resolutions and of course champagne. But besides the obvious, every country has it’s special New Year’s Eve traditions. Do you know how the beginning of the year is celebrated in Ireland, Spain, Denmark, China or Estonia? If not, come and explore with us!

Also, check our Christmas Trip Around the World post!

New Year’s Eve Traditions #newyearseve #newyearsevetraditions #travel


Spanish celebrate La Nochevieja by eating a grape within every clock bell’s chime – 12 grapes in 12 seconds. Doing it at the right time brings you twelve joyful months in the coming year. It’s not as easy to chomp down the grapes as it sounds, some people even practice beforehand. The tradition dates back to 1909.


One of my favorite Estonian New Year’s Eve traditions is pouring molten tin into a cold water and see what the New Year will bring. It’s fun to look for different contours and interpret the meaning of the shapes.

One of the oldest traditions is to have at least 12 different dishes on the New Year’s Eve table. It is believed that it brings plenty of food for the forthcoming year. Also, the table shouldn’t be cleaned until the next morning, so that the spirits of the passed away family members could feast too.


Did you know, that Danes are the happiest people in the world? Could it be because of they funny traditions?

Danes jump off of chairs to leap into the New Year to ban bad spirits and bring good luck. Besides all the jumping, they also save old china to smash it against their friends doors. Yes, that’s right! Breaking dishes is meant to bring good luck and the broken dishes pile on your doorstep shows how many true friends you really have.


Depending on the lunar calendar, Chinese celebrate the New Year between January 21 and February 20. People clean their houses to get rid of last year’s bad luck and paint their front doors red and decorate their houses with plastic firecrackers for a happy and good luck filled coming year.

There is a tradition that all the knives are hidden for the day so that nobody can cut themselves. It is believed that if somebody gets injured the entire family good luck is cut too for the next year.


The Irish people have some really curious New Year’s Eve traditions. To scare away bad luck and  evil spirits, let the happiness into the house and assure plenty of food for the coming year, Irish people bang loaf of Christmas bread on the doors and walls of the house at midnight!

Are you in search of love or want to get married? If so, do as Irish girls do –  put a sprigs of mistletoe under your pillow ay New Year’s Eve. This is said to scare away bad luck and bring true love in the new year.

How do you celebrate the New Year’s Eve? Any special traditions?

Unedited image by kirsche222 / CC BY

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  • Wow! I had no idea that the 12 grape custom came from Spain. We do that back in Bolivia, as well. We also have to buy new underwear and each color means something different. Red is for love, green is for money, etc. Usually my mom buys all colors of underwear and wears them all at once.

    • Ave T

      LOL! Way to go mom! 😀

    • brett

      hahaha that’s awesome. buys them and wears them all. i love it

  • Danette Lykins

    We usually take the kids outside to light sparklers every year~ thanks for the informative post!

  • Tina Ashburn

    This is really fun! I’m excited to see the traditions from around the world. I love the “leaping off the chairs”!

  • Jen At Dapperhouse

    Banging bread on the walls is funny! I really love the Estonian tradition the best – I wish that we had some meaningful and symbolic traditions to do with the kids.

  • Great list! I hadn’t heard of any of these. I might take up the Danish ones; they sound like fun!

  • Debi@The Spring Mount 6 Pack

    WE do not have many traditions for the New Years. We do eat pork and black eyed peas though

  • blm03

    Awesome list! We are going to have to try some of these!

  • Debbie Denny

    Great List. Love it!

  • Helene Bludman

    These customs are so interesting. I wish we had some traditions but we really don’t.

  • This was an interesting post. I always look forward to watching the international New Year’s coverage on TV.

  • Saving Common Cents

    What a fun read! I love the idea of breaking dishes being good luck! Maybe I have some Danish ancestors? LOL

  • trisha

    Ooh, these are awesome! I wish I could just sleep in as a tradition!

  • Jennifer B

    It is really interesting to learn about all of the different New Years traditions around the world

  • Deborah Munoz-Chacon

    I had heard about eating 12 grapes. I’m spending New Year’s Eve with my grandkids. We’ll have a fun evening of popcorn, sparkling apple juice and see who manages to stay awake until midnight.

  • Mama to 5 Blessings

    what a cool post – never thought about it — thank you for sharing!

  • Katherine Bartlett

    My husband is Irish so this one sounds awesome!

  • I love reading about the different traditions. I have never heard of any of them. I think the Irish tradition of the bread on the walls is interesting.

  • Danielle

    Wow, I guess I never gave any thought to what everyone else does – very cool! We don’t do anything now-a-days. We used to go to church and “pray in” the new year at midnight. The whole night was singing and eating til the midnight hour. But now with 2 little one’s I stay home.

  • Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell

    I’m cracking up at the 12 grapes in 12 seconds thing! That would be fun as long as someone was there to make sure you didn’t choke. All that dish breaking is a fun thing too!

  • Awesome list! May we all be as happy as the Danish in 2014! Thanks for sharing some wonderful and interesting traditions.

  • Janeane Davis

    It was fun to have this look at ways people celebrate the new year around the world.

  • Cynthia L

    What interesting information. When I was young, I used to go out, now I hope to stay awake! We always eat black eyed peas also!

  • Shannah at Just Us Four

    I love reading about holiday traditions from other places. Our au pair from Germany is sharing with us some of her traditions this year too.

  • Amy Desrosiers

    I had no idea of Spains tradition of 12 grapes on 12 seconds–that is super cool!

  • Mettsen

    I’m Danish and the dish smashing against front doors… I’ve NEVER heard of it before.