New Year’s Eve Quirks from Across the Globe


The new year is upon us. So smash those dishes, grab your suitcase and stick a candle in the walnut shell! Wait…what?

Whether you want to travel, line your pockets, or find the love of your life, here are some superstitions from around the world to help usher in a happy-go-lucky new year.


Those with itchy feet in Mexico have been known to pull an empty suitcase around the block at midnight- a tradition that promises to bring travel to the new year.

South Korea:

Greeting the first sunrise of the year from a mountain top or beach is a favourite way for Koreans to celebrate.  Everyone also becomes a year older, as age is calculated by the start of the new year. (Unless you are a woman and then you just stay 29 like before).


It is rumoured that a pile of broken dishes is a good sign in some parts of Denmark on the new year. Old dishes are saved and then thrown at the doors of family or friends to help usher in a prosperous and happy new year. To be fair though, none of my Danish friends have heard of this custom so it may be outdated, only happen in specific areas, or just be a big fat lie. However, they do jump off of chairs at midnight to “leap into” a fresh, new year. And missing the queen’s New Year’s speech -at 6pm sharp-is just not done.

Czech Republic.

To predict whether travel plans are in the future for the upcoming year a small candle is placed in one half of a walnut shell and set afloat on water. If the little shell boat floats toward the center, then the owner will be off to see the world. The nutty sailor with the boat that drifts to the edge will be staying closer to home.


Those looking for romance or cash flow in the upcoming year don either red (for love) or yellow (for money) undies on New Year’s Eve.  Eating twelve grapes at the stroke of midnight is also considered good luck; a grape for each chime of the clock, representing the months of the year. These practices are also common in several countries in Latin America.  (Grape salesmen wear red I would assume since the yellow aspect is taken care of for them on this day).


In Russia, New Year’s wishes might be a bit hard to swallow, but nothing that a glass of bubbly can’t help.  At the first stroke of midnight, requests for the new year are written down on a small piece of paper, burned, and then scattered into glasses of champagne. To ensure the wish is granted, the glass should be emptied at midnight.


To get rid of any negative energies from the past year and represent a fresh start, many Cubans follow the tradition of throwing a bucket of water out of their door or window.   Even better if the people who brought the negative energies happen to be passing by.


Wearing white clothes symbolizes a new start in Brazil. Another common New Year’s practice is jumping seven waves on the beach while making a wish for each wave. If you want luck in love for the coming year make sure the first person you have contact with in the brand new year is of the opposite sex (or whatever sex you want luck in love with).


What you hold in your hand at midnight on Romania will determine what the upcoming year has in store. If you have money or silver in your hand, the year will bring financial prosperity.  Holding a love interests hand will ensure a  happy year in terms of love.  That champagne glass in your hand promises a joyful year.  Even if this tradition is not true, holding a drink, some money, and someone to smooch, pretty much guarantees a good New Year’s Eve anyways.

Your turn! Share some New Year’s quirks and superstitions from your country or from any you have come across in your travels. 


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