26 New Year’s traditions from around the world to ring in the New Year

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Paperless Post BlogHolidays > 26 New Year’s traditions from around the world to ring in the New Year

Whether you love celebrating the new year with a wild party or in quiet reflection, New Year’s Eve is all about waving goodbye to the current year and hello to the next. Many New Year’s traditions reflect this transition between past and future, no matter what culture you’re from, and celebrations often focus on honoring the last year, ushering out the bad luck, and welcoming in fresh energy and good vibes. 

Traditional good luck symbols can be incorporated into what you serve, what happens when the clock strikes midnight, or what you do on New Year’s Day. Ahead are a few classic traditions as well as our favorite New Year’s traditions around the world for you to choose from while planning your celebration. 

New Year’s Eve traditions from around the world

Take a trip around the world this December 31st with different cultural celebrations and traditions for New Year’s Eve. They may even inspire your own New Year’s Eve party ideas to ring in your next trip around the sun.


A card witha vintage drawing of angels and colorful balls in the shape of a chandelier with the words “NEW YEAR” on a gold pattern background.
Angel New Year” by John Derian for Paperless Post.


1. Eat 12 grapes at midnight (Spain)

Nochevieja, Spanish for “New Year’s Eve,” is a tradition from Spain and also a Mexican New Year tradition to bring luck for the next year. At midnight, celebrators eat las doce uvas de la suerte (12 grapes for luck) to symbolize the hours on the clock.

2. Bang on pots (Ireland)

No one wants bad spirits hanging around for the new year! Join the Irish and scare away unwanted spirits and poor fortune by banging pots and pans at midnight.

3. Serve oysters and Champagne (France)

A card with watercolor illustrations of Champagne bottles and coupe glasses reads “Let’s get fizzy” on a marble background.
Busy Gettin’ Fizzy” by Happy Menocal for Paperless Post.


3. Serve oysters and Champagne (France)

A traditional part of French New Year’s Eve parties is Le Réveillon de la Saint Sylvestre or Le Réveillon du Nouvel An, a feast that often includes oysters,  foie gras, and of course, Champagne. The custom alludes to Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty who emerged from the ocean on a beautiful oyster shell. 

4. Welcome dark-haired visitors (Scotland)

Hogmanay is Scottish Gaelic for “the last day of the year,” and a tradition that dates back to the 8th century when the Vikings invaded Scotland. For good luck in the new year, Scots practice the tradition of “first-footing,” where the first person—preferably a dark-haired person for the best luck—to enter a home in the New Year brings a small gift for good fortune. They also burn large bonfires to reflect the Vikings’ winter solstice celebrations.

5. Burn down the old year (Italy)

The Italian New Year’s tradition of il Rogo del Vecchione (“The Old Man’s Burning”) in the Italian city of Bologna involves burning down the old year—or in this case, the effigy of an old man—to burn last year’s bad luck and make way for good.

6. Wear colored underwear (Mexico)

Many pairs of colorful underwear hang on a clothes line outside of a yellow building.
Image via Travel Mamas.


During the New Year’s Mexican tradition Año Nuevo, celebrators wear different colored underwear for different wishes for the new year—red for love, yellow for happiness, green for wealth, and white for peace.

7. Watch fireworks (Australia)

For many cultures, fireworks at midnight traditionally scare away evil spirits and bad luck, with the benefit of a wonderfully festive way to end last year. Watching the traditional fireworks show on the Sydney Harbour Bridge is certainly an experience to remember.

8. Jump in the new year (Denmark)

In Denmark, partygoers leap from their chairs at midnight to start January with good luck (known as Hoppe ind i det nye år, or “jumping in the new year”). Just make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes!

9. Leave the door unlocked (Ireland)

Eight colorful front doors on brick facades.
Doors of Dublin images via Adobe Stock.


Irish New Year’s traditions include honoring ancestors and lost loved ones, both by leaving doors unlocked for their spirits to enter and saving an empty place at your New Year’s Eve dinner.

10. Toss a coin into a river (Romania)

A gesture of luck in many cultures, tossing a coin into a river in Romania is supposed to bring luck on New Year’s Eve. If you don’t have a river around, a local fountain will do.

11. Dress in polka dots (Philippines)

Like many other cultures, Filipino New Year’s traditions involve wishing for good luck and prosperity for the next year. Wearing polka dots is traditionally thought to bring prosperity and wealth since the round shapes look like coins.

12. Throw plates (Denmark)

A square card with a watercolor illustration of a scalloped floral plate, fork, and knife on a green and yellow tablecloth beside a matching envelope.
Countryhouse China” by Happy Menocal for Paperless Post.


Another Danish New Year’s Eve tradition involves a lot of noise—and broken dishes. On December 31st, Danish partygoers traditionally throw old plates and glasses against the front door to banish bad luck. Just make sure to wear thick gloves when it comes time to clean up!

13. Clean your house (Japan)

Because New Year’s Eve is seen as a new beginning in Japan, Japanese New Year’s traditions include using December 31st to clean their homes as part of osouji (“deep cleaning”) to welcome Toshigami, the god of the new year.

14. Wear white clothing (Brazil)

Left: A card with a gold brushstroke and the words “Stroke of midnight.” Right: A crowd of people wearing white beneath gold fireworks.
Impasto” by Paperless Post; Image via Samba Photos.


Put away the red and green and pick out something white for good luck this year, just like the Brazilians do every December 31st.

15. Hang onions (Greece)

Welcome good spirits of fortune and fertility into your year by hanging onions above your door. Bonus: You can use them the next day for a delicious Greek New Year’s Day meal.

16. Go ice fishing (Canada)

A card with an illustration of five fish stacked vertically beside a matching brown envelope.
Five Fishes” by John Derian for Paperless Post.


Nothing says a new start like a trip to a freezing lake—followed by roasting delicious, fresh-caught fish. Find the coldest body of water you can (safely) access and say goodbye to last year like the Canadians do.

17. Have 12 moments of silence (Russia)

Unlike many celebrations that become louder just before midnight, Russian New Year’s Eve parties get much quieter. They reserve the last 12 seconds of the year as a silent tribute to the year gone by, and to make a wish for the year yet to come.

18. Throw furniture from the window (South Africa)

A white mosaic wall with a man hanging a chair out a window.
Image via Adobe.


In South Africa, New Year’s Eve is a time for letting go of past baggage—literally. Many South Africans celebrate the new year by tossing unwanted furniture out their windows, preferably away from bystanders.

19. Run with an empty suitcase (Colombia)

Left: A card with a circle in the center and Roman numerals in a clock formation around it. Right: Vintage leather suitcases stacked.
Longcase Clock” by Paperless Post; Image via Adobe Stock.


Want to travel in the new year? Find an empty suitcase and run around the block with it at midnight. Colombians believe that doing this correctly will guarantee many safe travels in the year to come.

20. Tell your future with metal (Finland)

If a resolution isn’t enough for you, spend your New Year’s Eve interpreting messages from the future. Finnish celebrators cast molten tin into the water to see what foretelling shapes come up. 

21. Visit a cemetery (Chile)

Chileans use New Year’s Eve to reflect on memories from the past. They hold mass in local cemeteries to honor and spend time with loved ones who are gone.

Classic New Year’s traditions

Left: An Art Deco-style patterned card in gold, black, and silver with “2024” in the center and a gold envelope. Right: People hold out three Champagne flutes for refills from a bottle.
Deco Delight” by Paperless Post; Image via cottonbro.


Some traditions are common all over the world. Welcome the new year in traditional ways with these classic New Year’s traditions.

22. Pop bottles

It’s common to drink Champagne, cava, or prosecco on New Year’s Eve. For a traditional but perhaps underappreciated, warmer take on the New Year’s cocktail, try Wassail, a cider-like punch with English origins, or red wine mulled with citrus and star anise.

23. Sing “Auld Lang Syne” 

Based on a poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song, “Auld Lang Syne” is an international song for bidding goodbye to last year—but not its friendships. It’s common to hold hands with the person next to you to form a circle on the dance floor while singing this catchy tune.

24. Watch the ball (or pickle) drop

Left: A lighted ball prepares to drop down a pole. Right: A card with gold starbursts and simplified drinking glasses says “Here’s to the next one” in gold.
Image via Noam Galai; “We’ll Have Another” by Paperless Post.


Times Square in New York City is iconic for its New Year’s ball drop, which is broadcast all over the globe. But why limit yourself to a big shiny ball? You can also tune into the pickle if you’re in Mount Olive, NC, or the sardine in Eastport, ME, the conch shell in Key West, FL, or the Big Cheese in Plymouth, WI.

25. Make noise

Left: A card with a graphic depiction of gold waves and a black rectangle in the center that reads “12/31/23.” Right: A cluttered table with black candles, empty coupe glasses, party hats, and noise makers.
Vertical Waves” by Paperless Post; Image by Dea Vita.


Whether it’s with noisemakers, pots and pans, broken plates, Christmas poppers, or fringed party horns or blowers, every culture’s got a noisy New Year’s Eve tradition.

26. Kiss someone

What better luck can you have than being with the person you love at the end—and start—of the year? As the saying goes: “Kiss the person you hope to keep kissing.”

What is traditional New Year’s food?

A salmon-colored card with black eyed peas around the border and the words “New Year’s Day Supper.”
Peas on Earth” by Paperless Post.


If you’re looking to cook New Year’s dinner this year, incorporate traditional New Year’s foods from around the world to bring as much luck into the next year as possible.

  • Lentils: These are on the menu in Italy on New Year’s Eve, celebrated as the Feast of Saint Sylvester. The coin-shaped legumes ensure good luck. 
  • Champagne: A New Year’s Eve staple, even if you’re not celebrating in France.
  • Round foods: In the Philippines, these foods are just as lucky as polka dots on your clothing. Try round fruits and pastries for additional prosperity.
  • Hoppin’ John: A Southern dish based on a West African pea stew that’s meant to bring good luck and prosperity—the peas represent coins, and the green stands for dollar bills. 
  • Japanese Toshikoshi soba: Also called “year-end noodles,” these are made of buckwheat and lengthier-than-typical soba to symbolize longevity.
  • Pan dulce: A cake that’s baked with a lucky coin inserted into the batter. Traditionally, anyone who gets the slice with the coin will be the luckiest one in the new year.
  • Tteokguk: A staple of the Korean New Year in both the Lunar Calendar and the Gregorian calendar, it’s a rice cake soup that officially ends the year for anyone who eats it.
  • Soup joumou: A Haitian squash soup that symbolizes Haitian independence—especially important because New Year’s Day is Haitian Independence Day.

Start a new tradition

A light pink online invite says “Let’s drink brunch” and on the right are four mimosa drinks with the words “New Year Mimosas.”
Four Mimosas” Flyer by Paperless Post.


Looking for a new way to pay respect to the last 365 days and welcome the next? Find a unique and fulfilling way to do just that below.

  • Volunteer with friends and family: Go to a soup kitchen, send care packages to deployed service members, shelter a pet in need, or contact your local senior center to see what its needs are at the moment.
  • Watch a movie with a New Year’s theme: We love “When Harry Met Sally,” “Boogie Nights,” or “Bridget Jones’s Diary.”
  • Reflect: Start a journal. Set New Year’s resolutions. Or create a list of things you’d like to do more and less of in the new year.
  • Get away: Start the year with fresh scenery—book a hotel room for the night in town for a staycation, or rent an AirBnB tucked away and curl up next to a fireplace. Bonus points if it doesn’t have a TV or wifi to give you an excuse to unwind.
  • Have a pajama party: Whether it’s an adult-only boozy party or a family-friendly matching party, it’s a cozy way to ring in a new year.
  • Host a spa night: Break out the face masks, hair masks, and scrubs. Set out an essential oil diffuser, spa water with cucumbers, mint, or sliced fruit, and candles. You can also host a New Year’s Day spa day as you unwind after a night out.
  • Hold a mystery dinner party: In a live-action take on the classic board game Clue, there is a murder at the center of the dinner, and guests work together to solve the mystery. They are assigned a character and come in costume. Find a free option online or order a kit with instructions and party tips to get you started.

Ring in the new year with Paperless Post 

Armed with traditions old and new, start planning your celebration with New Year’s Eve invitations to match. Paperless Post’s customizable invitation designs and Detail, Video, and Link Blocks, along with helpful tips for New Year’s Eve invitation wording, set just the right tone and provide all the essential details (and then some!) for any celebration you’re planning.

Skipping this year’s party, or want to reach out to friends and family and family farther away? Send a thoughtful New Year greeting card instead to ring in the New Year with loved ones near and far.


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Hero image via Vogue.