The start of a new year is celebrated the world over in many ways. Many people consider New Year a fresh start. There are various superstitions that come with this about things you should do to be lucky, healthy or prosperous. Here, I’ll look into a selection of New Year’s Eve and Day traditions from around the world, diving into a little culture and history along the way. Take a look, and maybe you can think about incorporating some of these New Year’s traditions into your own celebrations this year!

Are New Year greetings part of your New Year traditions? If so, make sure you check out the MyPostcard app for easily sending real cards with your own photos in the post anywhere worldwide. Use the free pre-written messages available in the app, or check out these five ideas for New Year wishes for inspiration.

#1 Firework Displays

Fireworks blaze over the USA as part of New Year's Eve traditions for many.

From Sydney to Hong Kong, Paris to Las Vegas, fireworks are a staple of many cultures’ New Year’s Eve celebrations. Believed to have originated in ancient times, the New Year’s tradition of using fireworks and noise making in general (bashing pots together, chiming bells and banging drums) was incorporated in order to drive away evil spirits and bad luck. China is credited with inventing firecrackers around 200BC, and now much of the world uses fireworks to celebrate on the 1st January.

#2 New Year’s Resolutions – global

Because so many peoples believe that a New Year means a fresh start, many people make New Year’s Resolutions as part of their traditions. Often new year’s resolutions involve being healthy – participating in more exercise classes, or eating better, but they can involve any aspect of our lives including work, relationships or education. The purpose of a New Year’s resolution is to improve ourselves in some way.

If you’re looking for ideas, check out these 22 ideas for New Year’s Resolutions – for work, study and life in 2022

#3 Ringing Bells – South Korea

In South Korea, New Year is celebrated traditionally with a bell ringing ceremony that first began in 1953. The ringing of the bells signals a farewell to the old year and is an expression of happiness, hope and expectations for the new one.

#4 Swim during the Loony Dook – Scotland

A figure stands according to Scottish traditions in front of an almost frozen lake in a snowy landscape on New Year's Day.

If you’re feeling brave this year, why not take a trip over to Scotland to participate in the annual “Loony Dook”. Every year on the 1st January, hardy Scots (and others who have travelled for the event) don fancy dress costumes and jump into the freezing cold waters just North of Edinburgh. This bracing New Year’s Day tradition dates back to the 1980s, when it was jokingly suggested that a dip in the water would cure the inevitable hangovers from the festivities the night before!

#5 Smashing Plates – Denmark

In Denmark you’ll find a long held New Year’s tradition that might seem strange to outsiders. Every year on New Year’s Eve, people go to visit their friend’s houses in order to throw and smash plates at their front doors. According to this tradition, it brings good luck to whoever’s house it is.

#6 Eating lentils – Italy/Brazil

Part of traditions in both Italy and Brazil, eating lentils is a popular New Year’s eve custom that is believed to date back to Roman times. The coin shaped lentils were given as gifts in small pouches back then, but now they are cooked and eaten at the stroke of midnight as a symbol of abundance and prosperity.

#7 Money in pockets – The Philippines

A child holds a hand full of coins out in their hands

Another tradition involving wishing for prosperity comes from the Philippines. In this South East Asian country, it is customary to make sure that you have some coins in your pockets as the clock strikes 12, in order to make sure your pockets (and bank accounts) remain full for the rest of the year.

#8 Ball drop – New York

Watching the ball drop over Times Square in New York has become a New Year’s Eve tradition for many Americans. First starting in the early 1900s, the televised event sees a huge ball descending a specially designed flagpole on the roof of One Times Square as the clock strikes midnight.

#9 Eating 12 grapes – Spain

A close up of a woman holding a basket of black grapes as a New Year's Day tradition to eat 9.

The “12 grapes of luck” is a New Year’s tradition that started in Spain in order to attract good luck and prosperity. Participants are encouraged to eat one grape as each gong sounds for the strokes of midnight.

#10 Dressing up as Bears – Romania

By far one of the most unusual (and therefore most interesting) New Year’s tradition hails from Romania. Taking place just before New Year’s Day, this celebration, called Festivalul de Datini și Obiceiuri Strămoșești, (the festival of customs and ancestors’ customs), involves men dressing up as bears and dancing to drive away evil spirits. The tradition is thought to derive from the previous Roma tradition of having actual trained bears who danced, but since that was outlawed in 1998, people now dress as this sacred animal and perform for themselves.

What’s your New Year tradition?

Not mentioned here? Let us know what your country’s New Year’s Eve or Day traditions are, and I’ll make sure to add it to the list.

In the meantime, if you’re still looking for alternative ways to celebrate – check out these 10 ways to ring in 2022 right!

Author

Hiya, I’m Maud. I’m an English girl who's moved to Berlin - because who wouldn’t fall in love with a country which has words like ‘Kummerspeck’ hidden around every corner... I love traveling and finding out the quirks of each country - and what better way to remember them than on a postcard?

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