New Year’s Fun Facts from Around the World

Posted on Jan 11, 2021
  • Germany– Berlin is home to a large celebration called Silvester. This event is filled with fireworks, parties and Sekt which is German sparkling wine. At home, families melt lead by holding a flame under a tablespoon. They pour it into a bucket of water and the pattern is said to predict the coming year. A heart/ring shape means an upcoming wedding, a ball means luck will roll your way, and a pig means you will have plenty of food.
  • Spain– The Spanish tradition is to eat 12 grapes one at a time at midnight. Every grape eaten represents one of your wishes for the new year. If all are consumed, your wishes will come true.
  • South Africa – It was customary to throw old furniture out the window and into the street. This is not practiced much anymore but instead replaced with a special Cape Town carnival full of singing, dancing and more.
  • Ethiopia – One of the only counties in the world to recognize a 13th month, the new year is celebrated on September 11th. The celebration is called Enkutatash which means “gift of jewels”.
  • Mexico – Renewal is embraced during a celebration called The Año Neuvo. During The Año Neuvo buckets of water are thrown out the window and the front door is opened to sweep out the old year. There are also parties, fireworks, and the traditional Latin American custom of burning scarecrows to celebrate the new year.
  • Brazil – People in Brazil ring in the new year by enjoying the weather and spend time in the water. It is considered good luck if you can jump seven different waves in a row while making a wish each time. A popular color to wear is white which signifies good luck and peace.
  • Peru – Three potatoes under a chair is a popular celebration in Peru. One is not peeled which signifies prosperity, one is partially peeled which signifies normality throughout the upcoming year and one has all its skin which means you are destined to not have money. At midnight, someone chooses a potato with their eyes closed which is believed to tell them how their upcoming year will go.
  • China – The Chinese New Year occurs anywhere between late January and the third week of February. Dragons and lions are representations of longevity and wealth. Both animals are found during New Year celebrations along with firecrackers and loud noises to scare away evil spirits.
  • South Korea – Many towns celebrate with “sunrise festivals” where people watch the first sunrise of the new year. It is believed that a wish made on the first sunrise of the new year will come true. Some write down their hopes and dreams and release them in a lantern or balloon to the sky.
  • Japan – New Year’s Eve is called Oshogatsu in Japan. It is celebrated by ringing all of the bells in the country 108 times which aligns with the Buddhist belief of bringing cleanliness into the New Year. The holiday is a three day celebration filled with games, food, family and the welcoming of good spirits.


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