As December 31st nears, so does the feeling of excitement, anticipation, and joy as we leave 2021 and enter 2022. Many cultures and families have traditions and rituals in place to welcome the new year. For some, it may be as simple as watching countdowns happen on the television, while for others it may be eating an exact amount of grapes to wish the coming year good luck. People celebrate New Year differently, so let’s explore some of the long-lasting traditions around the world!
1. Hogmanay in Scotland
In Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh, as well as people across the county, celebrate the new year with Hogmanay, a 3-day celebration. On the 30th of December, thousands gather, holding torches to create a “river of fire” that floods Old Town’s streets in Edinburgh. Along with these torchbearers, pipers and drums walk in step, filling the air with the noise of bagpipes and loud beats. On New Year’s Eve, many enjoy drinks and ceilidh, which is traditional Scottish dancing. Finally, on the 1st of January, you catch the last ceilidh and celebrate the new year.
2. 12 Grapes in Spain
In Spain, it is a tradition to start off the new year by eating twelve grapes. This began back in the 1800s when vine growers came up with the tradition as a means of selling more grapes. Today, the people of Spain eat a grape for each of the first twelve strokes after midnight to bring good fortune and prosperity into the new year!
3. Jumping Waves & Throwing Flowers in Brazil
In Brazil, the new year starts off with a trip to the beach. There are many local traditions that are associated with the new year, one of them being jumping waves. When the clock strikes midnight, you jump seven waves as it is believed to bring good luck into the coming year. In addition, another popular custom is to throw white flowers into the ocean as an offering to a water deity to get their blessings for the new year.
4. Smashing Plates in Denmark
One of the traditions in Denmark involves what sounds a lot like a rage room. Citizens of Denmark smash plates and other dinnerware against the doors of families and friends. They do this as a way to ward off the bad spirits. What sounds like an angry tradition, is actually used to help keep your loved ones safe and wish them good luck!
5. Times Square in the US
I’m sure we all know, and watch as millions, whether in person or on TV, onlookers watch as the ball starts dropping during the count down of the year’s final seconds. Recently, the ball drop has also been preceded with entertainment such as performances by famous musicians.
New Year’s Eve and the 1st of January are universal days of celebration. Whether you’re eating grapes at midnight, or jumping waves in the ocean, everyone has a little tradition to commemorate another year on the planet! Happy New Year!
“13 New Year's Traditions from Cultures Around the World.” Invaluable, 18 Dec. 2018, www.invaluable.com/blog/new-years-traditions/
Arneson, Krystin. “How New Year's Eve Is Celebrated in 7 Different Countries.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 22 Dec. 2016, www.businessinsider.com/new-years-eve-in-around-the-world-2016-12
Greenwald, Morgan. “20 Unique New Year's Eve Traditions from around the World.” Best Life, 31 Dec. 2020, www.bestlifeonline.com/global-new-years-eve-traditions/