For some of us, ringing in the New Year means fireworks, watching the ball drop and champagne at midnight. But, around the world, there are many different New Year’s Eve traditions. . And if you’re spending New Year’s Eve in a different time zone, the locals will have other ways to usher in the new year. To prep yourself for your overseas New Year’s Eve vacation, here are some ways other cultures celebrate New Year’s Eve.
Eat Grapes in Spain
Join the crowds at Puerta del Sol, Madrid, and come with 12 grapes in one hand, and a glass of cava in the other. Welcome the new year by gobbling one grape for each stroke of midnight(which is a lot harder than it sounds). But if you’re successful, you’ll enjoy a year of prosperity! Stick around for the celebrations and parties at any of the city’s local pubs or clubs.
Ring the Bells 108 times in Japan
Start off the new year (or Omisoka for the Japanese) with a spiritual cleanse. Buddhist temples all over the country ring their bells 108 times to banish human desires and negative emotions. Travelers in Tokyo can witness the ritual at the capital’s iconic Zojoji Temple. And if you can, linger on until January 2 to visit the Imperial Palace— it’s one of only two days a year the Emperor opens the grounds to the public.
Smash Plates in Denmark
No, your neighbors aren’t angry at you. In Denmark, families hold on to old and chipped dinnerware until New Year’s Eve, and then smash them on the front doors of friends and neighbors to celebrate. The more shards you have to clean up the next day, the more popular you are.
Feasting in Estonia (Tallinn)
Estonian tradition goes that if a man ate seven times on New Year’s Day, he would have the strength of seven men in the year to come. And after years of famine, it followed that Estonians would eat 7, 9, or 12 times on New Year’s Day to ensure not only strength, but abundant food for the year. Nowadays, you don’t have to keep count—just head to Tallinn, Estonia to partake in the delicious food and alcohol-filled celebrations.
Circles in the Philippines
In the Philippines, prosperity takes the shape of a circle. For a wealthy and abundant year, Filipino families fill their pockets with coins, and jangle them at midnight. Some go the extra mile and scatter them all over the house, believing that the good fortune will spread. As an extra measure of good luck, they also like to wear polka dots. The more circles the better!
Jump Waves in Brazil
Millions spend New Year’s on Copacabana Beach for one of the world’s wildest beach parties. But apart from all the loud music and dancing, travelers are encouraged to join in the local traditions. Come dressed in white to ward off evil spirits, jump over seven waves for good luck, and toss a flower bouquet into the ocean as an offering to the goddess of the seas.
Bring Whiskey Scotland
In Scotland’s capital, New Year’s Eve is a three-day celebration. Their ‘Hogmanay’ (which loosely translates to ‘great love day’) is filled with bonfires, parades, and choruses of ‘For Auld Lang Syne.’
The most famous New Year’s Eve tradition is called the ‘First-footing.’ Here, the first visitor you welcome into your home should carry a gift for luck. Visitors often come bearing coal, shortbread, salt, black bun, and whiskey—a throwback to the Viking days.
Sky Lanterns in Chiang Mai
In Chiang Mai, you can send up your hopes, wishes, and New Year’s resolutions into the night sky. Head early to the Wat Phan Tao temple, where you can join the Buddhist monks in meditating and praying for a fruitful new year. As midnight approaches, even the monks stop chanting to join the rest of the crowds and release their own lanterns. See the sky filled with thousands of lanterns, each carrying an individual wish for the new year.
Thinking of joining in these New Year’s festivities? Book your flight and tours now!3