We have been lucky enough to celebrate New Year’s Eve from India to Mexico. When we were traveling full-time, we often planned our itineraries around where the most eventful New Year celebrations took place. From Asia to Australia, let’s take a look at how other countries celebrate and what New Year’s Eve traditions you can expect around the world.
Where to celebrate the new year around the world
As the year draws to a close, we celebrate our New Year in style in Paris. Paris Ontario it is. But there was a time when Dave and I were going on vacation. We often planned our trips where they were best
New Year’s Eve is a time for a fresh start and to wish for peace and good luck in the coming year. So it makes sense that people like to make the most of the last night of the year in style. So who does it best?
In Scotland, the word for the last day of the old year is Hogmanay, and they love to ring in the new year with full of festivities. This celebration was taken from the Vikings who celebrated the winter solstice with bonfire ceremonies. Today it has become a 3-day party. The biggest celebration of the year takes place in Inverness.
Scotland doesn’t just celebrate with typical New Year events like many countries with fireworks and gatherings. But the Scots also hold bonfire ceremonies and torchlight processions while swinging giant fireballs, making it the best place to ring in the year ahead.
New Year traditions in Scotland have historically been to observe the ‘first footing’, where the first person to cross the threshold of a home after midnight brings good luck. Historically, this person was a very important man with dark hair who carried gifts. The first person you encountered to ring in the new year set the tone for the year ahead.
Auld Lang Syne
It makes sense to start our New Year’s celebration in Scotland, as one of the best New Year’s traditions around the world is singing Auld Lang Syne. Auld Lang Syne was written by the famous Scottish poet, Robert Burns, and the Scots started singing it on Hogmanay. When they emigrated around the world, they took it with them.
There is a Canadian connection to the song, however, as famed Canadian bandleader Guy Lombardo was the must-see New Year’s show from 1929 to 1962. His orchestra played the first nationwide New Year’s Eve broadcast from the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. He played Auld Lang Syne that night, and for years to come it has been ingrained in New Year’s celebrations everywhere ever since. Auld Lang Syne means old long ago, long ago, and New Years wouldn’t be the same without it.
New York, USA
Even if you haven’t been to New York City on New Year’s, you know about New York’s iconic ball game in Times Square. The Times Square celebration is broadcast around the world as we all watch Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen enjoy the festivities.
At the stroke of midnight, the New Year’s Ball in Times Square has become the most famous New Year’s event in the world. As the large crystal ball descends the flagpole at One Times Square, revelers count down from 10 while singing Auld Lang Syne and couples kiss and toast champagne.
For an unforgettable New Year’s Eve experience, head to Sydney, Australia for its fireworks display over Sydney Harbour. The fireworks display is organized by the City of Sydney and includes two sets of fireworks – one at 9pm and one at midnight. The fireworks can be seen from various locations around the city, including the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbor Bridge and various parks and vantage points around the harbour.
As Sydney has a warm climate, many outdoor activities and events take place on New Year’s Eve. These can include beach parties, picnics and outdoor concerts.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro is home to some of the most famous beaches in Brazil, and it is common for people to celebrate the New Year by throwing parties on the beach. These parties often include live music, dancing and fireworks. The most famous beach party in Rio is Reveillon na Praia, (New Year’s Eve on the Beach), which takes place on Copacabana beach and is attended by thousands of people.
In Brazil, it is common to have a special New Year’s dinner, known as Ceia de Ano Novo, which consists of a variety of traditional dishes. These dishes may include roast beef or pork, eating black-eyed peas and lentils, which are believed to bring good luck in the new year.
Other New Year traditions in Brazil include wearing white and when the clock strikes midnight, they jump seven waves and grant seven wishes with each wave. Seven is a lucky number, so in addition to jumping over seven waves, they also eat seven pomegranate seeds
New Year’s Eve, also known as Omisoka in Japan, is a major holiday in Japan and is traditionally a time for families to get together and celebrate the end of the year. In Japan, it is common for people to visit temples and participate in religious ceremonies. At these temples, people pray for luck and prosperity in the coming year. Some of the most famous temples to visit in Tokyo include Meiji Shrine and Asakusa Shrine.
Like many countries, the Japanese welcome the new year with a fresh start by doing a major house cleaning that takes place in every household. This is the perfect time to clean light fixtures, furniture and heavy appliances that are usually untouched during regular cleaning. Check out another famous party: Holi India – Celebrate the festival of colors
The same is true among commercial companies. Sellers take the opportunity to clear old inventory by offering fukubukuro or lucky bags. These dishes are often served in bento boxes or special osechi containers.
Families celebrate with a special New Year’s dinner, known as osechi-ryori, which consists of a variety of small, traditional dishes. Read more about Japanese New Year traditions at 7 unique Japanese New Year traditions
It’s been said that a Canadian tradition to celebrate New Year’s Eve is to go ice fishing, but I seriously don’t know anyone who has done that New Year’s. Don’t get me wrong, people go ice fishing in Canada, but on New Year’s Eve, the Canadians I know celebrate the coming year with festivities either in the heat or at one of the many parties around the country.
Usually we attend house parties (so there’s no drinking and driving), but cities like Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Halifax have full-blown parties. Many people brave the cold to see outdoor concerts in the city’s biggest squares. With fireworks and the countdown to midnight. We follow the typical New Year traditions of popping the cork and sipping champagne to kissing at midnight and singing Auld Lang Syne.
On New Year’s Day, one of the best New Year’s traditions in Canada is that many people take the polar jump challenge. Yep, a bunch of people dressed in funny costumes will be jumping into icy water in the name of charity and bragging rights for years to come.
New Year’s resolutions
Like almost everywhere in the world, Canadians like to make New Year’s resolutions. As we say goodbye to the past year, we look forward to the coming year by making plans. Even if people say they don’t make decisions, they usually at least think about it. With all the Peloton and Noom commercials on TV at this point, it’s clearly on a lot of people’s minds.
You’d think this is a recent tradition, but New Year’s resolutions date back to ancient times.
It is believed that the ancient Babylonians were the first to make New Year’s resolutions around 4000 years ago. Their big decisions were to return borrowed farm equipment and pay debts. While traditions and values have changed a bit in recent millennia, we all still look at the New Year as a chance to make changes for the coming year to enjoy good health and prosperity.
London, United Kingdom
One of the most famous New Year’s Eve traditions in London is the London New Year’s Eve Fireworks Display. The fireworks display is organized by the Mayor of London and takes place on the River Thames, with fireworks being launched from the London Eye and other locations along the river. The fireworks can be seen from various locations around the city, including the South Bank, Westminster Bridge and Victoria Embankment.
If you’re looking for something a little more low-key, head to one of the city’s many pubs for a traditional New Year’s celebration.
Hong Kong celebrates Chinese New Year between January 21 and February 20 depending on the year, but the city certainly embraces the typical New Year’s Eve on December 31. No skyline can quite match Hong Kong’s skyline, and the light show is kicked up a notch on New Year’s Eve with a fireworks display over Victoria Harbour.
The countdown clock is displayed at the convention center located directly on the harbor while famous artists perform from traditional drums to pop musicians.
Cape Town, South Africa
New Year’s Eve, also known as New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, is a holiday celebrated on December 31 in many
All in all, New Year’s Eve is a time when people around the world can come together and celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of a new one. Whether through fireworks, parties or special dinners, people find ways to mark the occasion and ring in the new year with hope and joy.
Unique New Year’s traditions from around the world
Ireland has interesting New Year traditions from beating bread to ward off evil spirits to cleaning their house from polishing the floors and scrubbing the windows. Like Scotland they also embrace the first foothold and when visiting a house it is said to bring good luck if you enter through the front door and out the back.
In Italy, it is a New Year tradition to eat 12 grapes at midnight to bring good luck. The 12 grapes represent 12 months of the year. Italians also traditionally make a point of wearing red underwear to ward off bad luck.
We started with Scotland, which began its New Year’s celebration by embracing the Viking festivities at the winter solstice, so we must end with the unique tradition of smashing plates. Like many other countries, the Danes like to party, and this is celebrated with fireworks, champagne and dining out in places like Tivoli. But one of the more unique New Year’s traditions in Scandinavia is smashing plates on your neighbour’s door. If you wake up to a door full of smashed dishes, it is a good omen for the coming year.
So whether you’re the first country to celebrate New Year’s Day (that would be Kiribati in the South Pacific) or the last, which is American Samoa, we hope you have a year filled with joy, love and laughter.