3, 2, 1…New Year’s Eve Traditions From Around The World

December 31, 2015  |  
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As we prepare to usher in 2016 with champagne and fireworks, here’s a glimpse of some New Year’s Eve traditions here in the U.S. and abroad.

Black-Eyed Peas

This very old tradition is not unique solely to the U.S. But if you’re in the South, you probably won’t consider it a real NYE dinner without black-eyed peas, which are supposed to bring you good luck in the new year.


Cooked greens are the color of money (okay, just a little bit darker) and you eat them, just like black-eyed peas, for good luck and fortune.

Throwing Water Out Of A Window

In Cuba, some people throw a bucket of water out of a window in their home at midnight to represent renewal.

Cleaning And Eating Grapes

Before the clock strikes 12 in Mexico, people clean their homes to get rid of bad energy and welcome in new, positive vibes.  At midnight, there is also the tradition of eating 12 grapes, which symbolizes a wish for every month of the year.

Celebrating Saint Vasilios

In Greece, New Year’s Day is also Saint Vasilios Day.  Saint Vasilios is the Greek version of Santa Claus, who brings gifts to children on January 1.  It’s customary for families to make vasilopita, a sweet, round cake that contains a hidden coin (similar to King cake in New Orleans with its hidden baby).  The first four cut pieces of the cake go to Jesus, Mary, Saint Vasilios and the family home.  The next slices go to family members, ranging in order of age. Whoever finds the hidden coin is supposed to have good luck for the year.

All White Everything

Many Brazilians wear white for New Year’s Eve, which is meant to bring good luck for the coming year (and promote peace). In Rio, people also gather at Copacabana Beach and other local beaches to offer flowers and other gifts to Yemanja, the queen of the sea who is thought to grant wishes.

Grab A Suitcase

If you want to travel in the New Year, do as the Panamanians (and other Latin American countries) do: walk an empty suitcase around the block to encourage a year of jet setting.  They also burn effigies, or muñecos, of people who made the news or played a prominent role in politics as a way of doing away with the old.

Bang Your Bread

Banging bread against the walls and doors of your home is an Irish tradition, meant to chase away bad spirits and invite good ones in.

Welcome The New Year With A Waltz

People dance in the streets to the “Blue Danube Waltz” at the stroke of midnight throughout major cities in Austria, and the song is played on major TV and radio stations to commemorate the new year.

Become A Junkanoo

Junkanoo, a festive, colorful street parade replete with music and dancing, takes place on New Year’s Day in the Bahamas.

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