Unique New Year’s Eve Traditions Around the World

2021 is a year of the Ox: A New Year, A New Start.

There are only a few days left in 2020, and it’s safe to say that everyone is ready to leave this year behind. As you get ready to ring in the New Year, hoping for some brighter days ahead, take a look at how countries around the world celebrate this holiday. There are some unique ways to bring good fortune for the New Year, and we could use all the luck we can get!


For Filipinos, anything round signifies wealth and prosperity, so many of their New Year’s Eve traditions involve this shape. It’s common for Filipinos to wear polka dots on the 31st and host a midnight feast that must include at least 12 round fruits on the table—usually, grapes, oranges, and cantaloupes signify wealth for the next year.

The grand pageantry of a new year springs hope eternal


Mistletoe is often associated with kissing in the Christmas season, but the Irish have different usage. Single women hoping to find love in the New Year place mistletoe under their pillows on December 31st, then burn it in a fire the next day. Another unique NYE tradition in Ireland involves hitting the doors and walls of your home with Christmas bread to ward off evil spirits.


These neighboring countries share a few different NYE traditions, but one, in particular, stands out: the burning of effigies. Every year, families use paper and old clothes to build scarecrow-like effigies, known as viejos. They’re often made to resemble disliked politicians or celebrities and are then burned at midnight in hopes of putting a true end to all the bad of the previous year.


Just before the clock strikes 12 on New Year’s Eve, Buddhist temples across Japan start ringing their bells for a total of 108 gongs—107 in the previous year, with the 108th one sounding in the New Year. This tradition, known as Joya no Kane, is said to cleanse the people of their sins of the year.


In Mexico and several other Latin American countries like Bolivia and Brazil, the color of the underwear you slip on for NYE can make or break the next year for you. Donning red underwear is said to bring love and romance in the coming year, while yellow leads to wealth and success, and green signifies well-being and nature. For those in need of peace and harmony, white undies are the way to go


According to Danish tradition, breaking plates against your friends’ and neighbors’ doors is said to bring them good luck for the next year. The bigger the pile of broken plates in front of someone’s door, the more fortune they’ll enjoy in the coming year. It may also be a sign of how popular they really are. Danes also jump from a chair at midnight to literally leap into the New Year.

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