Traditions for New Year’s all over the world


Isabela Mercer

Isabela Mercer, Staff Writer

Every country all over the globe has their own way to celebrate the passing of another year and the start of a new period. Every country has their own traditions and cultures that are reflected in what they do on New Years.


Being a Brazilian myself, I personally know just how many traditions we have looked forward to the New Year’s festivities.

Some of our particular traditions are Wearing all white, putting offerings in the sea and jumping over seven waves to ask for wishes

All three of these began back in the 19th century, with African slaves brought to Brazil to work on plantations and who already had these customs from their own religions. They wore all white to represent spiritual purification, jumped over seven waves on New Year’s eve to ask for a wish with each jump and offered simple things such as soap, flowers or small objects to the sea as an offering to their entity, named Iemanjá, that rules over the seas. With the passing of the years, these traditions were adopted by those who weren’t a part of the religions that initiated it. Nowadays, Brazilians all over the country still wear all white and it represents peace for the coming year.

Venezuela and Spain

Junior, Sabrina Hurtado and exchange student Lucia Urquiaga, who come from Venezuela and Spain respectively, mention some of their country’s similar traditions for the New Years.

Eating 12 grapes at midnight to ask for a wish with each grape and wearing at least one red or yellow piece of clothing

Eating 12 grapes at midnight is a tradition commonly present in many Hispanic and Latino countries. Each of the “12 grapes of luck”, which must be eaten with each bell strike at midnight of December 31, represent the 12 months of the upcoming year and according to the tradition, lead to a year of prosperity. The custom began in Spain then spread to Latin American countries and Hispanic communities all over America.

The red clothing, which is usually a piece of underwear, is worn for luck in love; Meanwhile, the yellow clothing, also can be a piece of underwear or not, is thought to bring good luck or fortune in the new year.


Junior and exchange student, Rose Buhnese from Germany talks about some very typical traditions Germans have to celebrate New Years.

Bleigiessen (lead-pouring)

Bleigiessen is the tradition of melting lead over a candle then throwing it in water, which supposedly tells you your future by the shape of how it comes out. It is supposed to be done after midnight, in the beginning of the new year by having each person melt a small piece of lead or tin over a candle in a small pan or a spoon. They then pour the melted lead into cold water, and it immediately cools and takes on a new rigid shape. The forms or figures created in this way are interpreted, either with one’s own fantasy or using a special chart, as symbols and forecasts of what the New Year will bring each person respectively. For example, the shape of a ball formed out of the molten lead signifies good fortune for the person throughout the year while a cross would imply death.


Junior, Kateryna Holondii talks about the “Old New Year” celebration, commonly practiced in Ukraine where she moved from.

Old New Year also known as Malanka

This celebration takes place on New Year’s Eve in accordance with the Julian calendar, on January 13 instead of the traditional date on January 1, thus the name ‘Old New Year’. This commemoration also happens in Russia and Belarus as well as Ukraine. The official name for this holiday is Malanka, which comes from a Christianized folk tale of pagan origin. Historically, the ancestors of Ukrainians believed that on New Year’s Eve, good and evil spirits descended on the earth. In order to ward of evil before the new year, the night was spent dancing, partaking in ritualistic meals, fortune telling, casting of spells, and singing carols of well wishes.

Nowadays, on the night of the celebration, people gather in groups and dress in traditional Ukrainian clothing, holding props and going from door-to-door to their neighbors, nearest friends and family to wish them well. Traditionally, the first thing to do when you are at the family’s house is to throw wheat grains around the entrance, which gifts the members living there with happiness, health, love, luck and prosperity. As the wheat grain is being thrown, the person doing it should be singing a verse. Once this is completed, the others join in. Each person sends wishes to the family through these verses, perform little skits and in between each of these, sing traditional Ukrainian carols.

The global tradition

Although different countries celebrate New Year’s differently, there is one particular custom that is present all over the globe, surpassing not only frontiers but also different cultures.

Kissing a loved one at midnight

According to USA Today, this custom primarily came from English and German folklore, which says the first person you encounter in a new year, and the nature of this encounter sets the tone for the rest of the year. A kiss is about strengthening ties you wish to maintain in the future and it mainly appeals to so many people not only because of this meaning behind it but also because of the romance involved in this act.