New Year Traditions Around the World

New Year’s Eve happens on the 31st of December every year and is celebrated almost globally with fireworks, parties, and excitement for the year ahead. Nevertheless, countries around the world celebrate this day in different ways with cultural traditions. At Lir, we decided to look at what some of these unique celebrations are.

Scotland: In Stonehaven, Scotland people partake in the Hogmanay fire festival, where right before the clock strikes midnight, a group of trained professionals swing balls fire over their head and then throw them into the sea to ward off any evil spirits. This tradition is over 100 years old, and it is thought to be passed on from a pre-Christian ritual to purify and ward off evil spirits.

Spain: In Spain people eat 12 grapes, one each second after midnight, to ward off bad luck ahead of the New Year. Each grape symbolises one month of the year ahead and must be eaten as soon as the clock turns to 12. If you don’t eat all 12 grapes in time, it is viewed as bad luck.

Brazil: In Brazil, people throw white flowers and candles into the ocean as an offering to Iemanja, also known as the pagan Afro-Brazilian Goddess of the Sea, on New Year’s Eve. If the ocean returns your gift, then then it is thought that the goddess did not accept them. These offerings are meant to satisfy the Iemanja, who is well known for her blessing to mothers and children. Giving her flowers and candles are also believed to bring prosperity for the New Year.

Germany: In Germany, people eat “Krapfen”, “Kreppel”, “Krebbel” or “Berliner” on New Year’s Eve. These are also known as filled doughnuts and are an important part of Silvester (New Year’s Eve) celebrations. These doughnuts tend to be filled with fruit jam or chocolate but sometimes people fill them with mustard to mess around with their friends. These doughnuts were traditionally only eaten on special days, as sweat treats were rare and expensive that few can afford. Now, they have become a popular snack that most can purchase.


Unique New Year's Traditions Around the World (

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