New Year’s Traditions Around the World

I love teaching my children about the rest of the world as much as possible. We’re constantly looking up other cultures’ methods for everything from  what they do when children lose teeth to how they celebrate New Year’s traditions. It’s important to me that my kids realize people are different and there’s more to life than just our little slice of Iowa. I want them to know that while we may not believe the same as other people and cultures, we can choose to celebrate those differences and love all the people.

New Year's Traditions from around the world Siberia

In Siberia, a frozen lake comes in handy for the ringing in the new year!


I also really love the YouTube channel Good Mythical Morning. They did an absolutely hilarious segment about different ways cultures around the world celebrate the new year. It got me to thinking about ways I could incorporate some of the traditions of other countries into our celebration.


In Spain, they try to stuff 12 grapes in their mouths at midnight to bring in 12 months of good luck. I would not recommend doing the American new year’s kiss at the same time. I can’t even imagine the results of that. Also, don’t choke to death while attempting this tradition. That would be very bad luck, and a terrible New Year’s tradition.


The people of Denmark save all of their unused dishes until New Year’s Eve, when they “affectionately shatter them against the doors of all their friends and family”. If you come to my house to cover my porch in shards of broken pottery, I appreciate your affectionate gesture, but please also bring your own broom. The Danes also climb onto chairs and jump off them, literally leaping into the new year. Depending on your jumping prowess, you may want to start with hopping off something shorter, such as a book or a step, or at the very least, lay out some pillows to land on. We won’t want to start the year with a broken ankle and broken dishes.


The Filipino New Year’s tradition is all about round things. The reason is that coins are round so celebrating the New Year with round food and such will usher in wealth for the coming year. I can totally do this one, as I happen to be in possession of a very round belly, so I definitely will be having a prosperous 2018. It also gives me a good excuse to eat a round pan of brownies and top them with round scoops of ice cream. I probably should add some round puddles of hot fudge, just to ensure that coming wealth. I’ll also want to avoid the gym just to keep that belly nice and round.

Puerto Rico

Some parts of the country of Puerto Rico believe that throwing pails of water out of their windows will drive away evil spirits.  I have all kinds of ideas how to make this a fun midwest new year’s tradition! The weather forecast here in Iowa is predicted to be a chilly -8 for New Year’s Eve, so you could see if you could make snow by tossing a pail of water. If you have some really annoying neighbors, you could wait until they’re out salting the sidewalk, and then throw your bucket of water. If it doesn’t drive them away, it at least will likely get you banned from the neighborhood block party.


The Irish New Year’s tradition also involves ridding ones home of evil spirits, only there they hit the walls with bread. It doesn’t say if you’re supposed to throw the bread at the wall, or just smack it, or if you’re supposed to use a whole loaf or just a slice of bread. Maybe to be on the safe side, you could go for a happy medium and just beat on the wall with a bread stick. Probably don’t dip it in marinara or garlic butter first. I can see my kids really getting into this one. They’ll likely want to eat the bread after they bludgeon the wall with it.

Farmer taking a selfie with cows because some farmers wish their cows a happy new year's traditions

In Belgium, as well as Romania, farmers make sure to wish their cows a happy new year!

Belgium and Romania

As a new year’s tradition, you could wish cows a happy new year! Most of you probably don’t have cows, so to make sure you too can have good luck because you successfully communed with cows, I invite you to our farm to talk with ours. We’ll loan you muck boots and you can tromp out to the barnyard and let them know you’re thinking of them, maybe sing them some Auld Lang Syne as well. Don’t worry about your singing voice. They don’t judge.


A mind blowing New Year’s tradition in Siberia is they leap into frozen lakes carrying tree trunks.  There’s a lake near my house too, so after you’re done singing to the cattle, you can go jump in the lake. It’s strictly BYOTT (bring your own tree trunk). You’ll likely need to bring some sort of ax or saw to get through the ice as well. And a towel.


My favorite tradition comes from Estonia. There they believe eating seven times on New Year’s Day will make sure you’ll have abundance in the coming year. My homeschooled hobbits and I already eat at least seven times a day, so we are guaranteed to have an abundantly wonderful year!

However you opt to usher in the coming year, I, in the words of St. Jude, wish that mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance.




  1. Laurie Elliott
    Laurie Elliott January 1, 2020 at 8:25 am #

    Wow, some of these are really crazy! Fun to read all the traditions! One of our friends opens the front door to bring in the new air, and the back door to send the old air out!

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