Find out about New Year’s Eve traditions around the world

Tradições de ano novo ao redor do mundo

Understand how this holiday is celebrated in different countries

The end of the year is already here and along with it come New Year’s Eve traditions, which gather people from around the world in different celebrations.

Brazilians, of course, are used to Brazilian traditions, but did you know that customs vary by country? This means that what is done in Brazil can be a surprising thing in other countries and vice-versa.

Are you curious about these traditions? Then read on and understand how celebration takes place in different countries around the world.

New Year’s Eve traditions in other countries

If you pretend to study abroad and live there for a while or even if you are visiting another country at the end of the year, you should learn about local customs beforehand in order to be prepared.

South Africa

Johannesburgers throw their old appliances out the window, which represents the following proverb: “out with the old and in with the new”.


Brazil shares one of its traditions with other South American countries, such as Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador.

In these countries, it is believed that the color of the underwear worn on New Year’s Eve carries different meanings, as follows:


  • Yellow: luck and money
  • Blue: life and tranquility
  • White: peace and harmony
  • Golden: good vibes
  • Orange: comfort and fertility
  • Black: repels negative energies
  • Pink: love
  • Purple: respect and prosperity
  • Green: health and hope
  • Red: passion



A tradition known as the Polar Bear Swim began in 1920 and consists of a group of people jumping in English Bay freezing waters in Vancouver.


Those who are not aware of the tradition, might get a little scared, but there are different New Year’s Eve traditions in Denmark and one of them is throwing old plates and cups at the doors of friends and family to banish evil spirits.

Another custom is to climb on a chair and jump, everyone at the same time, at midnight, so as to “jump” to January wishing good luck in the coming year.


There is a famous place to celebrate New Year’s Day in Scotland: in Edinburgh, where Hogmanay takes place, as the Scottish call the last day of the year. The place holds one of the world’s biggest parties.

The first person who crosses the threshold of a house during New Year’s Day should be given a gift to enjoy good luck.

Another tradition are bonfire ceremonies, where people display huge fireballs on stakes – supposedly as symbols of the sun – to purify the coming year.


In Spain, as the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve it is traditional to eat one grape per chime, so 12 grapes in total. This marks midnight, when the new year begins. Each one of the grapes is associated with good luck at each month of the year.

Another New Year’s Eve tradition, although more common in larger cities such as Barcelona and Madrid, is to gather in a main square so that everyone can eat grapes together and share bottles of cava, a very famous sparkling wine in Spain.

The Philippines

If you attend a New Year’s Eve party in this Asian country you will find that many details refer to round objects that represent coins and, therefore, are a symbol of prosperity.

In fact, many families display loads of fruit on their dining tables, while some eat 12 round fruits (usually grapes, although others are also possible) at midnight.

In addition, wearing polka dot clothing is also one of New Year’s Eve traditions in the Philippines.

Brinde nas tradições de ano novo


Over there, people make New Year predictions by pouring melt tin into a container of water and then interpreting the resulting drawing.

When the shape of a heart or a ring appears, marriage is expected, while the shape of a ship represents travelling and a pig means plenty of food during the coming year.


In this European country, one of New Year’s Eve traditions is to hang an onion on the front door of the house on the last day of the year as a symbol of rebirth for the coming period. Also, on New Year’s Day, parents wake their children up by poking them with the onion on their heads.


According to tradition, various magical events take place on New Year’s Eve, such as talking cows, seals that take the form of humans, house-moving elves, and dead rising from their graves.


Particularly in Venice, people gather in Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square) to start New Year’s Day with a collective kissing event. In addition, wearing red underwear is said to bring love, prosperity, and good luck.


To repel evil spirits and let the New Year kick off with a great start, Panama citizens burn effigies (doll-like sculptures, known there as muñecos) of famous people, like TV celebrities and politicians. Effigies represent the year that has passed.

Czech Republic

The Czechs believe it is possible to predict what the New Year will bring by cutting an apple in half and looking at the shape of its core.


Romanian farmers try to communicate with their animals on New Year’s Eve. If communication is successful, it is believed they will have good luck in the coming year.

New Year’s Eve Traditions: a cultural matter

All over the world, traditions abound with people wishing to say goodbye to the passing year and celebrate what is coming. Traditions are followed happily by those who believe in them and they attract hundreds, thousands and even millions of people.

Find out New Year’s Eve traditions in the country you are visiting, have all your paperwork ready with the help of a translation agency and enjoy the arrival of a new cycle in an even more interesting and special way than you are used to.

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