10 New Year’s Eve Traditions Around the World


Date of Publication: 01 December 2019

The coming of a new year often means the bringing about of good luck and fortune. But take a look at our list below of some of the world’s most weird and wonderful New Year’s Eve traditions. 


  1. Spain – Eat 12 Grapes at Midnight
  2. Colombia – Carrying Empty Suitcases
  3. Denmark – Smashing Plates & Jumping off Chairs
  4. Finland – Interpreting Shapes of Metal
  5. Panama – Burning Effigies
  6. South Africa – Throwing Out the Old
  7. Philippines – Round Shapes
  8. Brazil – Wearing Special Underwear
  9. Greece – Hanging Onions
  10. Estonia – Eating Lots


Let’s take a detailed look at them below…


Eating 12 Grapes at Midnight, Spain


In Spain, it is believed that if you eat one grape in time with each chime of the clock at midnight, then you will be rewarded with luck and happiness in the coming year. 

This tradition originated back in 1909, when there was a huge grape harvest in the country during the festive season, and the King chose to give the surplus of produce to the people to consume on New Year’s Eve. 


Carrying Empty Suitcases, Colombia

In a hope for a year filled with travel and adventure, it is a tradition for Colombian residents to walk around the block on New Year’s Eve with an empty suitcase. 


Smashing Plates and Jumping off Chairs, Denmark

It is customary for residents of Denmark to celebrate New Year’s Eve by throwing old plates and glasses against the doors of their family and friends to banish bad spirits. 

They also collectively stand on chairs and jump off them at midnight to ‘leap’ into January in hopes of good luck. 


Interpreting Shapes of Metal, Finland

In Finland, it is believed that people are able to predict the coming year by casting molten tin into a container of water, and then interpreting the shape the metal takes after it hardens. 

According to the tradition, a heart or a ring means a wedding, while the shape of a ship predicts travel. It is also believed that if you see the shape of a pig then you will have a year filled with plenty of food. 


Burning Effigies, Panama

It is tradition for people in Panama to drive off evil spirits by burning effigies (muñecos) of well-known people such as TV characters and political figures in Panama. The effigies are meant to represent the old year, therefore allowing people to start with a fresh New Year’s start. 


Throwing Out the Old, South Africa

It is tradition for residents in Johannesburg to party hard by throwing old appliances and equipment out of the window, literally representing the adage ‘out with the old and in with the new.’ 


Round Shapes, Philippines

On New Year’s Eve, you’ll find a variety of round shapes all over the Philippines, representing coins, they are said to symbolise prosperity in the coming year. From wearing polka dots for luck, to displaying piles of rounded fruit on their dining tables, it’s almost impossible to escape them!


Wearing Special Underwear, Brazil

In Brazil, as well as other Central and South America countries like Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela, it is thought to be lucky to wear special underwear on New Year’s Eve. The most popular colour to wear is red, thought to bring love in the New Year, while wearing yellow is believed to bring people money. 


Hanging Onions, Greece

In Greece, it is traditional to hang an onion on the front door of your home on New Year’s Eve as a symbol of rebirth in the New Year. To commemorate New Year’s Day, parents then wake their children by tapping them on the head with the onion. 


Eating Lots, Estonia

Traditionally, on New Year’s Day, Estonians try to eat seven, nine or twelve times throughout the day, as these are all lucky numbers. It is believed that the more they eat, the more plentiful food will be coming in the year. 


Sign up to the Newsletter

Want to know more? Enter your details below to sign up for our email newsletter.