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30 New Year’s Traditions to Start the Year Off Right

Updated: Jan. 02, 2024

Take inspiration from these New Year's traditions from around the world and have your best (and luckiest) year yet!

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New Year’s traditions to kick off 2024

At the end of each year, we change our calendars, make resolutions, come up with fun New Year’s Eve party ideas inspired by New Year colors, and reflect on the previous 52 weeks. While there may be similarities in how the new year is celebrated, cultures all over the world have different New Year’s traditions that help them start the next year on the right foot—and you bet you can celebrate them in your own home too!

For some extra good fortune in 2024, give these unique (and lucky) New Year’s traditions a try. Below, we’re featuring some of the many celebrations found in Scotland, Ecuador, Spain, Brazil and more!

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Sing “Auld Lang Syne”

People in the United States, as well as around the world, often sing “Auld Lang Syne” on New Year’s Day—call it a global tradition. What you might not know is that the song actually originated in Scotland and is rooted in an older Scottish folk tune.

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Get your fortune told

Imagine knowing for sure that your New Year’s resolution will happen? Well, in Finland, one of the common New Year’s traditions involves traditional fortune telling. On New Year’s Eve, Finns melt tin on the stove to catch a glimpse of the future.

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Watch Dinner for One

Everyone has a favorite New Year’s movie. For people in many European countries, including Germany and Austria, the black-and-white British comedy sketch Dinner for One is their go-to. Some families go the extra mile by preparing the four-course dinner featured in the sketch.

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Celebrate with Father Frost

You guessed it: Father Frost, also known as Ded Moroz, is Santa Claus’s counterpart. Like Santa, Father Frost is likely to appear in a few New Year’s memes, as he shows up on New Year’s Eve delivering gifts to well-behaved children. He does all this while wearing a blue or red fur coat and carrying a sack of gifts on his back.

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Enjoy a feast with champagne

In France, New Year’s Eve is referred to as “Réveillon de la Saint Sylvestre.” Celebrations start with a toast of champagne and the indulgence of foie gras, a well-known delicacy made from the liver of duck or goose. Along with the usual dancing, partying and passing around New Year’s quotes, you’ll find people pairing their dishes with sparkling wine. Drinking champagne on New Year’s Eve is a popular tradition that’s become global today.

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Share soup joumou

For Haitians, one of their New Year’s traditions is eating soup joumou (also known as Haitian Independence Soup). It’s a pumpkin- or squash-based soup with historical resonance. In the past, the soup was exclusive to Haitian colonial masters, but after Haiti’s liberation from France in 1804, it became a symbol of liberation for freed slaves and is now prepared annually to commemorate their struggle for freedom.

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Go ice fishing

Add fishing to your list of New Year’s games and activities. Despite the cold, Canadians embrace this New Year’s tradition. Families will rent heated huts and cooking equipment so they can enjoy ice fishing in the holiday spirit. If you live by any ice (and fish), consider layering up to head outside and do the same.

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Hang onions outside the door

In Greece, you’ll find onions hung outside people’s doors. This is a customary New Year’s practice meant to symbolize growth and fertility, and it typically follows New Year’s Day church service.

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Clean your home

The phrase “out with the old, in with the new” resonates in Puerto Rico and various countries around the world. In fact, this New Year’s tradition is a symbolic way to start the new year on a positive note—and by “clean,” we mean every nook and cranny.

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Watch the ball drop

Here’s another New Year’s tradition in the United States: Thousands, maybe even millions, gather in Times Square and in front of their TV screens to witness the iconic ball drop. The cold temperatures don’t deter in-person celebrants from welcoming the new year in the heart of the city. This New Year’s tradition was started in 1907 by New York Times owner Adolph Ochs to spotlight the Times‘s new headquarters. It’s been celebrated annually ever since.

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Smash plates

In every household, there are some dishes, plates and cups that, while perfectly acceptable, somehow never get used. People in Denmark know how to put them to good use. Tradition says you should (affectionately!) shatter them against the doors of your friends’ homes to ward off bad spirits and welcome happier vibes amid the chaos.

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Throw water on your friends

Make sure to wear your swimsuit if you’re ringing in New Year’s in Thailand. We’re not talking about Dec. 31, when lantern festivals freckle the country, but rather the Songkran Festival from April 13 to 15, for the Thai New Year. The New Year’s tradition is drenched with goodwill: The act of pouring water over someone is seen as a sign of respect and good wishes for the year ahead and symbolizes washing away bad luck.

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Throw furniture out the window

Keep your eyes up if you’re touring South Africa for New Year’s Eve. It’s not confetti that falls from the skies but, um, furniture that catapults to the ground. Though this is not a widely adopted practice throughout the country, certain areas believe the physical act of tossing unused goods from a window sends a signal to the universe that you have let go of past grievances and are hopeful for the future.

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Be picky about your first houseguest

Who is the first person to knock on your door on Jan. 1? If it’s a deliveryman greeting you with greasy takeout to cure that champagne hangover, you’d better hope he’s a good person. In Scotland, Isle of Man and some regions of Northern England, “first footing” is practiced and trusted. Here, locals seek out a tall, dark man to be the first person to enter their homes in the New Year. He’s often carrying specific gifts—like salt, shortbread,  whiskey or other lucky New Year’s foods—to bless the home with good luck for the next 12 months.

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Burn away your grievances

In Ecuador, locals celebrate Los Años Viejos, which translates to “the old years.” It’s one of the New Year’s traditions that focuses on destroying past demons. You’ll see many locals create dolls that resemble scarecrows, some decorated with signs, descriptions of their sins or images of sinister people. As the clock hits midnight and celebrations begin, the front yard creations are lit on fire, symbolizing the fiery, smoky embers of one year and inviting good spirits to circle in the new.

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Eat 12 grapes in 12 seconds

You better come hungry for the New Year’s Eve celebration you were invited to in Spain if you want to earn the good graces of locals. Spaniards subscribe to the superstition that the last 12 seconds of the year can determine your fate for the next year, all dependent on how many grapes you can chow down in a short period of time. The idea is to eat one grape for each chime of the midnight bell. Finish all 12 to earn good luck for the coming year.

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Find 12 round fruits

For a favorable fortune in the Philippines, it’s not size or color or texture that matters but rather shape. Avoid rectangles and triangles in this New Year’s tradition and instead be on the lookout for anything circular. The idea is that circles represent coins and bring wealth, so the more circles you can collect, the better. Most locals will attempt to get to 12 round fruits, each representing a month of the year.

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Wear white

It’s no secret that Brazil likes to party, but when it comes to New Year’s, it’s less about the glittery mini dresses and sequined skirts. Instead, for a year that promises luck, wonder and adventure, your outfit only needs to have one lucky New Year’s color: white!

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Lug around an empty suitcase

While you might steal a New Year’s kiss from your partner at the stroke of midnight, if you’re in Colombia, you’d better be wearing your running shoes. Many Colombians will run around their block as fast as they can while toting an empty suitcase. Legend says that if you’re in good spirits and do this the right way (perhaps without tripping?), your next lap around the sun will guarantee at least one traveling adventure.

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Ring a bell 108 times

This might be one of the best New Year’s traditions based on your zodiac sign: For those ringing in the start of a new 365 days in Japan, listen for the bells at midnight. Here, tradition dictates that Buddhist temples ring bells 108 times, based on the belief that it brings cleanness. And no, the tradition isn’t referring to the junk drawer you should have cleaned out a decade ago; it focuses on a cleansed heart, mind, soul and body. The concept is called joya no kane, and the reasoning behind the specific number is attributed to the 108 types of earthly desires humans are thought to have. The ringing of bells is said to help you leave your old, sad or frustrated self behind and enter the new year with a clear mind and happier resolutions.

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Sip soup for the soul

There’s nothing like a hot bowl of soup to warm the soul in the winter, but South Korea’s tteokguk, a dish made of broth, rice cakes, meat and vegetables, is imperative to the country’s New Year’s traditions. South Korean New Year, known as Seollal, usually falls in late January or early February, and the soup is believed to bring those who eat it good luck in the new year.

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Smash pomegranates

This one feels festive but messy. In Turkey, locals smash pomegranates on their doorways for New Year’s. The belief is that your good fortune in the coming year is directly proportional to the number of seeds that fly out of the fruit upon impact. So put some aggression behind that throw!

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Cast some metal

If you’re feeling crafty, make like the Finnish and cast molten tin into water. To predict what is to come in the year ahead, locals carefully inspect the shape the tin takes once it has hardened. An animal might mean there will be an abundance of food, while a heart could forecast love in the coming year.

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Eat a sugar pig

Germans believe that pigs equal wealth, so for New Year’s, it’s commonplace to eat glücksschwein, pig-shaped marzipan candies that are both adorable and sweet. They’re thought to bring financial luck for the year ahead.

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Toss a coin

It might seem counterintuitive to literally throw your money away, but in Romania, that’s exactly what they do for good luck at the start of a new year. Don’t worry, they aren’t emptying their bank accounts. But it’s believed that tossing a coin in a river will bring luck throughout the year.

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Bake coins into sweets

Bolivia has a sweet (and profitable) New Year’s tradition in which coins are baked into cakes for a festive activity. The person who receives the slice with the coin is thought to have a prosperous year ahead.

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Eat lentils

Move over, pasta. It’s lentils that take center stage on New Year’s in Italy. These legumes are thought to bring good luck for the coming 365 days, thanks to the fact that they resemble coins. If you’re a fan of pork and sauerkraut, you might appreciate that the lentils are typically paired with pork sausage, a fatty meat rich in flavor that also evokes a prosperous sentiment.

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Wash away bad luck

The Burmese take part in Thingyan, a water festival that happens at the start of their New Year, which occurs in April. It symbolizes washing away any bad luck they may have previously experienced. During the Buddhist holiday, the streets of Myanmar (aka Burma) are busy with revelers basking in sprinklers to ensure plenty of good fortune in the future.

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Eat seven meals

If you think Thanksgiving consists of a gluttonous meal, wait until you hear what Estonians do for good luck on New Year’s Eve. Their tradition is to eat at least seven meals on Dec. 31 (though some consume even more). According to custom, this means they will harness the strength of seven men in the year ahead. Plus, if you celebrate with a bounty of food, the abundance is thought to carry into the next rotation around the sun.

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Bang bread against the walls

Forget coming together to break bread; the Irish believe in banging their carbs against the walls on New Year’s. The act is supposed to chase away bad luck and evil spirits, enabling good luck to be invited in. It’s also believed that this will help bring a bounty of bread and food in the coming year.

Additional reporting by Lindsay Tiger.


  • University Post: “Six Danish New Year traditions”
  • The Atlantic: “The Joyful Splashing of Thailand’s Songkran Water Festival”
  • Slate: “Start the New Year Off Right with Scotland’s ‘First Footing'”
  • Life in Ecuador: “Ecuador New Years Eve”
  • Food Republic: “12 Grapes at Midnight: Spain’s Unique New Year’s Eve Tradition”
  • Tagalog Lang: “New Year’s Eve in the Philippines”
  • Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “New Year traditions hold special meaning for Haitian, Colombian immigrants”
  • Global News: “5 truly Canadian ways to celebrate the New Year”
  • Greek Boston: “The Greek New Year’s Tradition of Hanging Onions on Doors”