New Year’s Traditions from Around the World

As the old year concludes and the New Year begins, people across the United States celebrate in accordance with common traditions. Couples will share a kiss at midnight, fireworks will light up the sky and revelers will belt out “Auld Lang Syne.” However, these traditional activities are not necessarily practiced in all parts of the world. Indeed, each country has its own unique New Year’s traditions. The following are just a few ways that residents of other countries ring in the New Year.

Fireworks in Iceland

Fireworks are generally considered a staple of New Year’s celebrations, so their presence is not all that notable. However, New Year’s fireworks are a big deal in many parts of Iceland, where setting off fireworks is banned during the rest of the year. For the week following New Year’s Eve, citizens of Iceland are able to enjoy a sky full of fireworks displays. Additionally, Icelanders will light large bonfires to stay warm and signify the spirit of the New Year.

Eating 12 grapes in Spain

As the clock chimes 12 times as midnight arrives, people in Spain celebrate with a snack of 12 grapes. Tradition states that finishing the 12 grapes before midnight arrives secures a happy and fortuitous new year. Still, those who want to participate in this activity had best be prepared to finish those grapes on time. After all, those who aren’t able to finish the grapes allegedly become victims of bad luck.

Smashing old plates in Denmark

If you happen to live in Denmark, you’ll probably wake up to broken dishes outside your door on New Year’s Day. After all, your friends and family likely left them there for you. Denmark’s citizens smash their old plates as a way of ringing in the New Year. Smashing your kitchenware outside of someone’s home is said to bring good luck to that resident.

Carry an empty suitcase in Colombia

If you plan on traveling during the New Year, you might want to consider this Colombian tradition. On New Year’s Day, Colombians walk around with empty suitcases. Doing so is believed to bring good fortune during your travels. This activity is also practiced in other countries, such as Ecuador.

Ringing bells in Japan

Throughout the country of Japan, Buddhist temples will ring a bell 108 times leading up to the New Year. This practice has origins with traditional Buddhist teachings. Each toll of the bell signifies one of the 108 earthly temptations. By the time the bell is rung for the 108th time, Japan’s citizens are ready to start the year without the distraction of these temptations.

Visiting cemeteries in Chile

One of the best parts of celebrating the New Year is spending time with your family members. In the Talca region of Chile, that includes loved ones who have passed on. Families will gather at cemeteries where their loved ones are buried to celebrate the New Year there. This tradition is very similar to the Día de los Muertos holiday celebrated earlier in the year.

No matter how you decide to celebrate the New Year, it’s sure to be a special holiday, as a whole new chapter of your life begins.


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