New Year's Traditions From Around The World

Fun New Year Traditions Across the Globe.

By Amanda Mesa | Published on March 29, 2022

It's a universal belief that with the new year comes a promise of health, wealth, love, happiness, adventure, and good luck. All over the world, every country and culture has its own unique New Year's traditions. Though, whether you are taking a cruise to China or vacationing in Italy, the customs and superstitions may vary from region to region as tradition has been to embrace the transition from one year to the next as a celebration of new beginnings. It's a time to honor the past, let it go and then look toward the future. A new chapter filled with possibility, and an opportunity to strive for a better, brighter year ahead.

This year, consider infusing your own New Year routine with some international flavor by adopting a custom from another country.

Champagne Drinks
Champagne Drinks

New Year’s Eve Food Traditions

Ring In The New Year In A Delicious Way

New Year's Eve food traditions have been a symbol of good fortune, growth, and renewal — like in Japan. Here the Japanese New Year tradition includes the practice of a ritual called Toshikoshi Soba (which translates to "year-crossing noodles"). You must finish your bowl of noodles before midnight on New Year's Eve to ensure luck in the year ahead. The belief is that the length and shape of soba noodles — as well as the resiliency of the buckwheat plant used to make it — represent a long, healthy life. If you find yourself in Japan for the new year, you may be surprised by the lack of crowds, booming fireworks and extravagant parades like in other places in the world. Celebrations are typically a solemn affair as the custom is to stay home, spend time with family and eat noodles.

Food is such a big part of culture because it brings people together. Sharing traditional foods with your friends and family is the ultimate form of bonding, and around the holidays this is especially true as you enjoy time-honored recipes and dishes that represent your culture. Sometimes, though, food can represent so much more. For example, fruits and vegetables are common ingredients in New Year's traditions across several cultures and hold many different meanings.

Practicing New Year's customs and traditions can help you set your intentions and keep your resolutions top of mind.
New Year's Eve Food Tradition of 12 Grapes in Spain
New Year's Eve Food Tradition of 12 Grapes in Spain

The Greek New Year's Eve food tradition of hanging onions up on your door may seem more appropriate for Halloween, but it really has nothing to do with warding off vampires. Citizens of this captivating island nation have long believed that food represents development. Onions, in particular, are associated with rebirth and regeneration. By hanging them on your door, you're actually inviting personal growth and transformation in the year to come, and to make things more fun for parents — part of the tradition is to wake your children up on New Year's Day by tapping their heads with an onion.

Sharing food with the ones you love can make memories that last all year long, and the best New Year's traditions focus on good fortune. Baking "good-luck" bread, like they do in Armenia is all about infusing positive vibes while you knead the dough. The baker then places a coin in the center of the bread, and whoever gets the slice with the coin in it is guaranteed prosperity and fertility in the upcoming year. This tradition is centuries-old and originated from farmers. Farmers would bake bread at the beginning of spring as an offering to the gods, who, in turn, would give them fertile, fruitful crops all season long.


Silver Coins Around for New Year’s Prosperity in the Philippines
Silver Coins Around for New Year’s Prosperity in the Philippines

Similarly, Spain's New Year's Eve food tradition of eating 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight brings the promise of good luck for each month in the new year. Usually served in a champagne flute, some people try to knock back all 12 grapes before 12:01, but you can also enjoy this sweet tradition at your leisure with a bubbly glass of cava.

Spanish colonists brought this New Year’s superstition to the Philippines, where they snack on round fruits for wealth. They believe round shapes symbolize money and can attract it into your life. So to celebrate the new year, they've expanded Spain's grape tradition to include any round food. They also wear polka dots and fill their pockets and mugs with silver coins.

Practice Age-Old New Year’s Superstitions

Beyond wealth and good fortune, with the new year comes the opportunity for adventure and love, and a chance to start over. You want to move into the new year with positivity and you want to leave behind anything that disrupts your life. It's a Turkish New Year’s Eve tradition to scatter a pinch of salt across your doorstep the moment the clock strikes midnight to put out good vibes and ward off evil comes from an old New Year’s superstition. It's believed to bring both peace and prosperity to your home throughout the coming year.

Friends Watching the New Year’s Tradition of Fireworks in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Friends Watching the New Year’s Tradition of Fireworks in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Some traditions stem from myths and legends, like in Brazil where locals head to the beach on New Year's Eve to light candles and toss white flowers into the waves. The tradition has mystical roots — the flowers are considered offerings to Yemoja, a water deity believed to control the ocean. The hope is that she'll accept the flowers and, in exchange, will grant her blessings in the new year. And if finding romance is a part of your resolutions, take a page out of the of book Irish New Year’s traditions with the festive tradition of tucking mistletoe beneath your pillow. The legend goes that the mistletoe beneath your pillow will bring you dreams of your ideal partner, and you'll find that special someone in real life in the new year.


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Have Fun With Friends And Family On New Year’s Eve

Other New Year’s traditions are just plain fun, like the Colombian tradition supposed to put you on track for plenty of adventure in the year ahead — all you have to do is carry an empty suitcase around the block. In Colombia on New Year's Eve, the streets are filled with dozens of people — most a little tipsy — dragging suitcases down the street in the middle of the night. If you feel a little silly doing it for the first time, just remember your suitcase won't stay empty for long.

New Year’s Tradition of Watching Fireworks in Copenhagen, Denmark
New Year’s Tradition of Watching Fireworks in Copenhagen, Denmark

Although you may have a tough time getting your friends on board with it, Denmark also has fun ringing in the new year as they throw china plates at their friends' and families' doors. Having the most broken dishes outside your door is a source of pride, as it represents positivity going forward, leaving any anger behind. Smashing plates will definitely help you let out some aggression and leave it in the past.


Set Intentions For The New Year Ahead

Whether your goals going into 2022 involve better health and wellness, financial success, or you want to travel more while falling in love, practicing New Year's customs and traditions can help you set your intentions and keep your resolutions top of mind. Even if you aren't superstitious, anything done with good intentions is positive and worth doing, so have fun adopting some of these traditions into your New Year's plans. You never know, your wish might just come true.

Written By

Amanda has written for Royal Caribbean since 2017. She also covers travel, lifestyle, food and beverage for Indulge Magazine, the Miami Herald and PureWow. She's traveled extensively around the world, enjoys building unforgettable itineraries and loves introducing readers to lesser-known destinations. 

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