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10 New Year’s celebrations from around the world

Happy New Year to our Family Travel family all over the world! No matter how you celebrate wherever you are, the end of the year is a time dedicated to family, friends and a fresh start. From decorations to traditional dishes, every family does New Years in their own unique way. Maybe, like the Swiss, you drop ice-cream on the floor for good luck! Or maybe you toss coins and wish for fortune like Romanians? 

Check out this wonderful, quirky mix of ten New Year’s customs and celebrations from around the globe.

1. Ball Dropping in Times Square

Made famous by many a romcom, the Times Square ball drop dates back to 1907. Drawing over 1 million people for a night full of entertainment, this event is televised all over the world.

Times Square celebrates New Year with confetti and the ball dropping. Credit: Shutterstock

Times Square celebrates New Year with confetti and the ball dropping. Credit: Shutterstock

2. Cemetery Sleeping in Chile

This tradition is actually fairly new! In the Talca province south of Chile’s capital, families have started sleeping in local cemeteries on New Year’s Eve to spend the night with their deceased ancestors.

3. Lentils in Brazil

New Year’s Eve in Rio de Janeiro is famously extravagant and attracts enormous crowds. Typically, lentils will be a staple in New Year’s meals, a symbol of health and prosperity for the upcoming year.

4. Grapes in Spain

When the clock ticks over to January 1st, it is tradition in Spain to eat 12 grapes, one for each chime at midnight.

We love this Spanish tradition. Credit: Shutterstock

We love this Spanish tradition. Credit: Shutterstock

5. Bells tolling in Japan

At the stroke of midnight, bells can be heard chiming all over townships in Japan to welcome the New Year. It is customary in Buddhist temples and shrines for bells to be rung 108 times, a ritual thought to date back to the Chinese Song Dynasty.

6. Bear dances in Romania

Traditional Romanian celebrations involve children and families dressing up in bear costumes or animal hides to dance and sing down the streets, warding off evil spirits.

7. Broken crockery in Denmark

The Danish have no shortage of New Year’s traditions, including throwing cream on the floor and jumping off furniture into the new year when 12 o’clock comes around. My personal favourite, however, is the custom of breaking old crockery against the front door of your family and friends and leaving the shards in piles outside their thresholds. 

8. Icy diving in Russia and Siberia

Brave divers from these chilly, northern countries will jump into freezing waters in the ice, carrying with them a log or sapling. Some claim this daring act symbolizes the planting of a new tree beneath the ice.

9. Scarecrows in Ecuador

In Ecuador when the clock strikes twelve, effigies of politicians, celebrities and other famous icons are set alight. These blazing figures represent burning away the old year and starting afresh.

10. Chinese New Year

A huge holiday for families worldwide, this festival coincides with the start of the new Lunar Year. Lasting for up to 15 days, Chinese New Year or Spring Festival can involve special religious ceremonies, lanterns, fireworks and an important ‘reunion dinner’ with the whole family.

2019 Lunar New Year in Sydney had lion dancing and more. What will 2020 hold? Credit: Shutterstock


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