How Different Countries Around the World Ring in the New Year

According to the Gregorian calendar, the stroke of the clock at midnight on December 31 rings in a new year. However, this annual changeover is celebrated differently across the globe. Below is a sampling of four that we definitely have on our bucket list.


Households in Japan consume celebratory dishes. Osechi is a traditional New Year’s feast consisting of a collection of exquisitely prepared dishes shared among family members, relatives or friends. Translated as “year-crossing noodles,” toshikoshi soba consists of warm or cold soba noodles seasoned in a broth, topped with green onion, shrimp tempura or other garnishings and paired with dipping sauces. Another tradition involves Joya no Kane, in which a bell at a Buddhist temple is rung 108 times on New Year’s Eve.


Hogmanay is the Scottish word for the last day of the year and this occasion is marked by music, food and dancing and greeting family and friends. There’s also the tradition of the “First Footing,” in that the “first foot” set in the house after midnight ensures good luck. This first footer would be a dark-haired male (fair-haired ones were considered to be unlucky) who brings along a lump of coal (to place on the host’s fire), shortbread, a black bun and whisky to toast to a Happy New Year.


Danes do something unique for New Year’s Eve – they jump into it. Known as “Hoppe ind i det nye år,” this tradition involves people climbing on top of furniture and jumping down from them. This jumping concept is based on the Danish idea that it’s bad luck to step on the boundary between the new and the old year, so you try to jump over it instead.


Before midnight on New Year’s Eve, Curaçaoans carry out the practice of cleaning their homes and fumigating them with incense. It is done as a way to let go of the past and move into the future with a clean slate to attract good fortune.

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