New Year's Celebrations Around the World

By: Bambi Turner
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Times Square seems like the center of the world on New Year's Eve, but it's just one of many fabulous celebrations taking place to usher in a new year. People across the globe have their own traditions for transitioning from one year to the next, and many of these routines are very different than the classic champagne and fireworks you're used to. From fine food to bizarre rituals and everything in between, check out these New Year's celebrations from around the world!

What food is consumed at midnight on New Year's Eve in Spain?

The Spanish attempt to eat 12 grapes as a series of 12 bells toll at midnight. Those who can swallow all 12 grapes by the time the bells stop ringing will have good luck in the new year.

When did the first ball drop occur in Times Square?

The famous ball descended into the crowds in Times Square for the first time in 1907. Today, the geodesic dome measures 12 feet in diameter and weighs 12,000 pounds.

What object do Danes need to ensure luck in the new year?

Danes look for the closest chair on New Year's Eve, but the chairs aren't for sitting. In Denmark, people actually jump off of chairs at midnight to leap joyfully into the new year.

What food is considered a must for New Year's Eve celebrations in Austria, Cuba and Portugal?

Austrians, Cubans and Portuguese consume pork for good luck during New Year's celebrations. In Austria, the holiday is known as Sylvesterabend, and an entire roast pig is an integral part of the holiday feast.

How many meals do people eat on New Year's Eve in Belarus?

In Belarus, people prepare and eat twelve full meals, one for each month of the coming year. The practice not only results in a full belly but is also said to bring luck in the year ahead.

What can you do on New Year's to bring luck in Brazil?

To bring New Year's luck in Brazil, people jump seven times over seven ocean waves. Those living far from the coast can generate the same results by simply hopping on one foot.

Where do people consume a cake called Vasilopita?

Greeks bake a cake with a coin inside. Whoever finds the coin in their slice of the Vasilopita will have good luck in the new year. Children in Greece also sing carols to celebrate the holiday and may be rewarded with money for their songs.

What should you wear if you visit the Philippines over New Year's?

Filipinos believe that anything round can boost prosperity in the New Year, so residents wear polka dots, carry coins and consume round foods like fruit to fatten their wallets.

Where do people celebrate Hogmanay?

The New Year's celebration is known as Hogmanay in Scotland. The first visitor to a Scottish home in the new year should come bearing a small gift to bless the family -- a process known as first footing.

What's the traditional method for wishing friends good luck in Denmark during New Year's?

Throwing dishes at a friend's doorsteps is a traditional method of showing those you love how much you care about them during the Danish New Year celebration.

You should never clean your plate in Estonia during a New Year's feast.

Estonians consume 12 meals during the holiday, but leave a little food behind at each meal for dead relatives and friends to feast on. Cleaning your plate could mean angering the dead, which is certain to bring bad luck.

What country celebrates Le Reveillon?

The French celebrate Le Reveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre on New Year's. It honors Saint Sylvestre, a Pope from the 4th century, and includes plenty of fireworks and noise at midnight to ward off evil spirits.

What is a pfannkuchen?

In Germany, people celebrate the new year with pfannkuchen -- also known as Berliners. These jam-filled donuts are a holiday tradition throughout the country.

People in this country exchange gifts on January 1st to honor St. Basil.

Greeks wait until January 1st to exchange gifts in honor of Saint Vasilius, or St. Basil. Other Greek traditions include tying a pomegranate or onion to the front door of the home for good luck in the coming year.

Where did "Auld Lang Syne" originate?

The song, which translates to "for old time's sake," originated in Scotland. It was first recorded by Robert Burns in 1788, but it's complete history is unknown. People all over the world now sing the song to celebrate the past and welcome the future.

What do people eat on New Year's Eve in Japan?

Just before midnight, the Japanese dine on buckwheat noodles known as toshikoshi soba. Around the same time, the temple bells ring exactly 108 times to welcome the coming year.

What food is considered a New Year's Eve tradition in the southern U.S.?

Chowing down on black-eyed peas -- often in a dish called Hoppin' John -- has long been a tradition in the South. While some muse that the beans look like coins and eating them brings prosperity, it's more likely that the tradition started thanks to a misinterpretation of the use of fenugreek seeds during Jewish New Year celebrations.

When is the Jewish New Year celebrated?

The Jewish New Year celebration takes place in the fall during the months of September or October. It starts with the official New Year day of Rosh Hashanah and lasts for 10 days until the holiday Yom Kippur.

What country ushers in the New Year with a festival called Songkran?

Thailand's new year takes place in the spring and is commemorated with a three-day water festival known as Songkran. And yes, you will get wet.

What is another name for the Chinese New Year?

The Chinese celebrate a lunar new year -- or Spring Festival -- which is based on the phases of the moon rather than a standard Gregorian calendar. It often takes place in January or February, and everyone in China enjoys a 7-day break from work to celebrate.

What country celebrates Seollal?

The South Korean New Year celebration is known as Seollal and takes place over a three-day period in January or February. Like the Chinese New Year, Seollal is based on a lunar calendar. Families celebrate by donning special garments known as hanbok.

What animal is a traditional part of the Romanian New Year celebration?

In rural Romania, people dress in bear costumes -- or even in real bear skins -- and dance in the streets to ward off evil spirits on New Year's Eve.

What is a muneco, when used in a New Year's celebration?

Revelers burn effigies known as munecos in Latin American countries like Panama and Ecuador to usher in the new year. The effigies take the shape of people on the news, celebrities or personal acquaintances. Burning the effigies is a way of saying goodbye to the past and ushering in a fresh new life.

Where is Diwali typically celebrated?

Diwali is a traditional Hindu New Year celebration that takes place in India. It is largely a festival of lights in which Indians pay tribute to the goddess Lakshmi. Children craft clay pots called deeps to serve as lamps and brighten the night.

Islamic New Year takes place in the summer.

The Islamic New Year celebrates Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar. The timing of the festival is based on the phases of the moon, but Muharram typically takes place in the fall, often in October.

Where does the world's largest New Year's Eve celebration take place?

Move over Times Square! The biggest New Year's party in the world takes place on Copacabana Beach in Rio, where two million people gather to celebrate the goddess Iemanja while ushering in the New Year.

What country hosts the world's largest fireworks display?

Fireworks are a big part of any New Year's celebration, but it's Australia that does it the biggest. The display at Sydney Harbor features 30,000 pyrotechnics, making it one of the largest fireworks displays on the planet.

How many people gather in Times Square for New Year's Eve?

A staggering one million people gather at Broadway and 7th Avenue to watch the ball drop, while millions more worldwide tune in to watch on TV.

What attraction serves as a home base for New Year's fireworks displays over the Thames in London?

Hundreds of thousands gather along the River Thames in London to watch amusical fireworks display each New Year's Eve. The fireworks launch from the city's giant viewing wheel, known as the London Eye.

Which country celebrates Tet to welcome the new year?

Tet is the biggest event on the Vietnamese calendar. Citizens clean and paint their homes, buy new clothes and freshen up to welcome the new year. The midnight hour itself is known as Le Tru Tich.

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