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New Year Around the World

How different countries celebrate the new year.

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As we say goodbye to 2020, a strange year with a novel virus, giant murder hornets, and school closures,  we can look forward to bringing in a new year with fresh hopes and dreams. In the United States, people celebrate with fireworks, family meals, and counting down the time to the next year. What are some other traditions around the world?


As the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, celebrators at beaches join in the tradition of jumping over seven waves. Participators must face the ocean’s waves head-on and then make a wish for each wave they jump over.


Some people might get upset to have friends and neighbors smashing plates on their front doors, but in Denmark, it is supposed to bring good luck when done on New Year’s Eve. The more smashed plates at someone’s door, the better. On December 31, they also like to jump off a chair as a symbol of jumping into the next year.


The Filipinos enjoy wearing polka dots on the last day of the year and eating round-shaped foods since they look like coins and suggest wealth for the new year.


To the Scots, “first-footing” is a superstition where the first person who enters a home on January 1 will dictate how the year will be. A certain type of person will bring the most luck to the household: a dark-haired male who comes bringing the gifts of bread, a coin, a drink, and a lump of coal. These things symbolize food, money, good spirits, and warmth.


At the stroke of midnight, Spaniards eat 12 grapes as fast as they can. The legend of this tradition is that doing so wards off evil while ushering in good luck and prosperity.


To help bring prosperity for the next 12 months, people in Turkey smash pomegranates on their front doorsteps on New Year’s Eve. Playing Bingo and wearing red are some other favorite traditions. They also melt lead into water, which is supposed to ward off evil eyes or curses throughout the new year.

U.S. Southern States

On New Year’s Day, it is important to eat black-eyed peas and greens. One should eat 12 beans, to represent each month in a year. The beans are supposed to bring luck and prosperity, while the greens symbolize wealth.

National Correspondent at and Kelli Ballard is an author, editor, and publisher. Her writing interests span many genres including a former crime/government reporter, fiction novelist, and playwright. Originally a Central California girl, Kelli now resides in the Seattle area.

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