New Year’s Eve Traditions

Happy New Year!
Gelukkig Nieuwjaar
Hauoli Makahiki Hou
Bonne Année
Feliz Año Nuevo

While planning my families New Year’s Eve celebration, I came across some interesting information about how others around the world celebrate this holiday. I LOVE things like this. It is my dream to travel to hidden, remote and populated places alike to experience other customs and cultures…..ahhhh, one day. In the meantime, I wanted to share with you some interesting info I found on world wide traditions for New Years Eve.

Happy New Year! It’s a term given in greeting to family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers to welcome in the New Year. Along with warm greetings and well wishes, cultures going back as far as ancient Babylonian times have established traditions that are still practiced today such as shooting off fireworks or special meals, cakes or drinks. Most cultures slowly incorporated January 1st as the first day of the new year. Before this they considered the first day of Spring to be the beginning of the new year. Below are some of the well known and not so well known traditions. I encourage you to add some of these customs to your own New Years traditions! I am incorporating a Dutch pastry called Oliebollen that is normally  made for New Years Eve. (Click here to see how my Oliebollen turned out!

The Dutch: (Netherlands) They build massive bonfires with their Christmas trees and eat sugary treats called Oliebollen. It’s a donut type of pastry covered in powered sugar. They are one of many cultures that partake in eating circular shaped foods that represent good luck or good fortune for the new year. 

Often, families will read Psalm 90 from the Old Testament in the Bible on New Years Eve. Psalm 90 is from the Old Testament. It was a prayer from Moses to humankind (much of Psalms was written by David). Psalm 90 inspired a hymn by Isaac Watts, “O’ God, Our Help In Ages Past”.  Psalm 90:12 “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” The “number our days” portion does not mean we should focus our energy on the limited amount of time we have but rather to cherish each and every day as a gift from God. Click on Psalm 90 to read it in its entirety. Psalm 90 explores depths of thought about the existence of humankind and our relationship with God. 

Spain and other Spanish speaking countries: They eat 12 grapes, one for each stroke of midnight. If consumed by the last stroke you will surely have good luck the next year. 

Denmark: In Denmark, people jump off of chairs right at midnight symbolizing “leaping into the new year”. They also break dishes outside of family and friends homes. 

Philippines: People in the Philippines dress in polka dots! Just like in other cultures, anything round is considered to bring good fortune for the upcoming year. 

Puerto Rico: Here, some people throw buckets of water out of doors and windows at midnight, this represents the phrase “out with the old and in with the new”.  Many also go on a cleaning spree. They clean their homes, cars, offices inside and out! And last, my favorite, is wearing yellow underwear.  Bright colors are associated with good luck in many cultures around the world for New Years Eve. Yellow is believed to bring luck as it is the closest color to money or gold. AND, very important, the yellow undies must be brand new! AND they are even luckier than lucky if you receive them as a gift.  

United States: Here in the Good Ol’ U.S. of A, we have a multitude of traditions. An open house type of tradition started in New York where people would open up their houses to family, friends and neighbors to come, visit and eat. People would spend the day/evening going from house to house. Even George Washington took part in this. We also, like many other cultures, eat pork. Pork and Kraut are probably the most popular. Pork is chosen because the animal symbolized progress. Pigs push forward when rooting for food. Southerners often eat Hoppin’ Johns, which consists of ham and black eyed peas (recipe: Hoppin’ Johns). We also have our own tradition known around the world of the New York celebration. I grew up watching Dick Clark each New Years Eve, once the ball began to drop you could sense a rise in excitement and anticipation. I have always wanted to be there in Times Square for the celebration! 


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