My mother always told me to be careful about what I did on New Year’s Eve because that is what I would be doing all year round. (What a good reason to avoid the dishes!) Here in North America, we usually celebrate New Year’s Eve with fireworks, champagne, and a midnight kiss. But how does the rest of the world ring in the new year? Most traditions are designed to attract prosperity and good fortune in the coming year.

In Denmark, broken dishes aren’t thrown away. In fact, people accumulate them through the year and keep them in front of their door. Then they smash the dishes on the doorsteps of friends and family as a sign of friendship and love. The person with the most broken dishes on their doorstep is thought to have the most friends.

Brazilians like to celebrate the new year in yellow underwear because the colour is thought to attract wealth to the wearer.

North Americans typically celebrate New Year’s Eve with fireworks and champagne. | Pixabay

Do you wish New Year’s Eve celebrations would last a little longer? How about up to 15 days? The Chinese celebrate Yuan Tan, which falls anywhere between mid-January and mid-February due to the Lunar calendar. Festivities include dragon and lion dances, feasts, and gifts of money in red envelopes for good luck.

Scotland celebrates Hogmanay, also known as first footing. In this celebration, timing is crucial. The first guest (traditionally a handsome, dark-haired man) to set foot in a house in the new year should bring gifts: bread for prosperity, whisky for luck, and other gifts like coal, shortbread, and salt.

In Belarus, unmarried women play a game to determine who will marry in the upcoming year. A pile of corn is placed in front of each single woman and a rooster is released. The woman who has the most corn eaten by the rooster is the first to wed!

Ukrainians hold New Year’s Eve celebrations on Jan. 13 in accordance with the Julian calendar. According to, Malanka traditionally involved people “caroling, playing pranks and acting out small Christmas-related plays.”

How do you and your family celebrate? What are your traditions, and where did they originate?


Header image: The Chinese celebrate Yuan Tan with dragon and lion dances, among other festivities. | Pixabay