Five New Year’s Eve Traditions from Around the World

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There are a number of fascinating New Year’s Eve traditions that are upheld annually around the world in order to bring good fortune in the coming year. Here are a few of the most unusual, and the reasons behind them.

1. Eating 12 Grapes, Spain

In Spain, it is traditional to eat 12 grapes during the countdown to the new year. This custom is called las doce uvas de la suerte which translates to ‘the 12 grapes of luck’. At exactly midnight, Spanish people will eat one grape for each chime in the hope that they’ll enjoy some good luck in the coming year.

photo of twelve grapes in a prosecco glass

2. The Ball Drop, USA

If you’re a film fanatic, you may be aware of the American tradition of watching the ball drop in Times Square during the countdown to the new year. While some people travel to New York to watch the spectacle in person, many families and groups of friends will switch on their televisions just before midnight to watch the event live on TV. The first ever time-ball was actually installed in the Royal Observatory in Greenwich in 1833 to help sailors set their navigational instruments!

photo of people cheersing prosecco in front of time square in new york

3. Plate Smashing, Denmark

This slightly destructive New Year’s Eve tradition involves smashing plates on the front doors of family members and good friends, which is thought to bring them good luck in the new year. While seeing a pile of broken crockery outside of somebody’s house might indicate a break in, in this case it would allude to them being a well-loved person! 

photo of a broken plate

4. Sydney Harbour Bridge Picnic, Australia

In a similar way to how us Brits commonly flock to the London Eye to watch the fireworks, many people in Australia take a picnic and some bubbly to the area surrounding Sydney Harbour Bridge. People will often arrive at the bridge in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve to secure a great view of the fireworks and begin celebrating early! Additionally, it is significantly warmer in Australia, making New Year’s Eve a much balmier day…

photo of sydney harbour bridge at night with fireworks going off behind

5. Hatsumode, Japan

Hatsumode is an incredibly important New Year’s tradition within Japanese culture. Hatsumode is also referred to as ‘the first shrine of the New Year’ and involves Japanese families travelling to a temple on one of the first days in January. While at the shrine, people will show their gratitude for the blessings that they have received in their lives thus far, and occasionally make wishes for the year ahead. 

photo of a japanese shine