New Year’s Traditions Around the World

Happy New Year’s, everyone!

As 2017 comes to an end, I’ve decided to put less pressure on myself by not stressing about resolutions. My focus is to stay more present in each moment. However that evolves over the year is fine with me!

Since my toddler is now old enough to start remembering our celebrations, it’s up to us parents to create our own family traditions. This is really important to me, as we’re raising our kids in a multi-cutural household. My husband (British) and I (American and German) (living in France) have basically handpicked the most fun things we remember doing at each holiday. We talked to some other expat friends and realized there are so many fun and different ways people celebrate New Year’s!

New Year's Traditions from Around the World

Here are some of my favorite New Year’s
traditions from around the world

In Savannah, GA, where I’m from, we would always eat collared greens and black eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck. When I’m home I love doing the Polar Bear Plunge on Tybee Island. Yes, I know it’s not super cold in the South, but it’s still an amazing and refreshing way to start the New Year!

Rather than writing Christmas cards, many people in France write New Year’s cards instead. A large feast with friends and family marks la Saint-Sylvestre, often with sea food and foie gras. People will wish each other a Happy New Year or “bonne année” well into February.

Since I’m a huge Outlander fan (anyone else??!!?) I’ve been reading up on the Hogmanay celebrations in Scotland. This is actually a several day celebration, with fire festivals, folklore, and whiskey galore. First footing is one of the more well known traditions, where the first person to step through your door brings you good luck (and hopefully also gifts!) Actually, the celebrations were outlawed in the 16th and 17th centuries, and since then people have embraced them in full force.

Singing Auld Lang Syne at midnight is an important tradition across the U.K. The song was originally a poem written by the Scottish Robert Burns and is now sung to bid farewell to the departing year.

Around Europe there seems to be a theme of dropping and throwing things to bring good luck. In Denmark, plates are broken on your neighbor’s doorstep to wish them a lucky new year. People in Switzerland drop ice cream on the floor to bring luck.

Lots of countries have traditions revolving around food. In Spain they eat 12 grapes at each stroke before midnight to bring good luck for each month of the year. In Estonia people eat a lucky number of meals (7, 9, or 12) to bring an abundance of luck and food in the new year.

I’d heard about writing down your resolutions and wishes for the new year, but in Russia they burn the pieces of paper, throw the ashes in a glass of champagne, and drink it up before midnight.

In Japan people believe that you should be smiling as the new year approaches to bring good luck. How nice is that? Temples ring their bells 108 times, as per Buddhist customs, to rid people of their sins in the old year.

Whether you’re a Trafalgar Square or Times Square party-goer or more of a watch the fireworks on TV kind of a person, there is no wrong way to ring in the new year! Here’s to a happy and healthy 2018!

What are your favorite New Year’s traditions?
I’d love to hear about them in the comments!!

New Year's Traditions from Around the World


6 thoughts on “New Year’s Traditions Around the World

  1. Jane

    We don’t have any traditions, but always try to have fun! Last year I was newly pregnant and dreaming baby dreams before midnight! 😉 This year I can host in my new apartment with baby and friends! (And friends’ babies! Baby’s friends!) 🌟

  2. Bridgid

    Very interesting read! I’ve never known of all the other traditions. I was especially interested because I am raising multi-cultural children as well. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Elaine

    I grew up in the Philippines and what I remember was jumping up and down at the stroke of midnight to make me grow taller! We also lit up plenty of fireworks and had plenty of food.

  4. Jenny

    This is really interesting! The polar bear plunge sounds really fun. We’re in the UK and we sing Auld Lang Syne like you say, or the words we can remember anyway!


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