New Year's Traditions Around the World

New Year's Traditions Around the World

Photo by Olena Sergienko via Unsplash

Champagne has been the traditional celebratory drink going at least as far back as the 1800s. In the United States, it’s as much of a tradition as dressing to the nines, watching the Times Square ball drop, and whipping out the loud noise makers and party poppers. You and your friends most likely pop champagne, fill up the glasses, and cheers to the year gone by and the new one ahead. This classic U.S tradition is one that’s popular internationally, too. And while big parties and gatherings won't be a thing this year, you better believe champagne will be flowing at home and abroad — saying goodbye to 2020 and hello to a fresh start.

Champagne (or some type of sparkling wine) makes an appearance at celebrations around the world. To ring in the new year, people in numerous countries — France, Brazil, Denmark, Portugal, the list goes on — pop open a bottle to share with friends and family.

Champagne Traditions on New Year's EvePhoto by Kelley Bozarth via Unsplash

While many countries’ celebrations unite around the shared tradition of champagne, from there, the celebrations diverge

So, how do the people in other countries mark the new year?


Greeks do drink champagne at midnight, but it’s more of an imported tradition. They have a lot of fun New Year’s customs of their own, though — especially when it comes to food. One of the classic celebratory dishes they eat during New Year’s Eve is the bougatsa, a sweet pastry filled with vanilla cream. Then, on New Year’s day, they bake a vasilopita. This is more than a typical cake. A coin is hidden inside it, and the person who finds it is bestowed with good luck (and sometimes even a prize). It’s also customary to break a pomegranate in your house for good luck. However, this tradition is losing popularity because of the mess that's left to clean up later. In terms of non-food traditions, New Year’s is also the day that families open presents in Greece, making it even more of a celebration.

Greek vasilopita cake traditionPhoto of a asilopita cake via Kenfood


Make sure you have a cluster of grapes handy. When the clock strikes midnight, Spaniards eat grapes (12 in total) for each month of the upcoming year. This is believed to bring good luck throughout the new year. Mexico has a similar tradition where they eat 12 grapes and make a wish with each one.

Spanish New Year's Traditions
Photo via Spain's official tourism website


Brazilians have a lot of fun traditions. First off, you want to be at the beach. At the start of the new year, they head out into the ocean and jump over seven waves. Continuing on that theme, it’s also common to eat seven grapes or pomegranate seeds and imbibe in a little champagne. Whatever you do, though, don’t eat turkey because it will bring you bad luck for the year.

Brazilian New Year's Traditions
Photo via Glo


Here, New Year's is one of the biggest celebrations of the year. As such, they put an interesting spin on the typical champagne toast. Russians will write a wish on a piece of paper, set it on fire, put the ashes in their glass, and drink the whole thing. They also decorate a yolka — a New Year’s tree — with a star on top.

Photo by Max Titov on Unsplash
Photo by Max Titov via Unsplash


One popular part of the Danish celebration: kransekage. It’s a decorated wreath cake that’s tall, shaped like a tree, and made from cake rings stacked on top of each other. They also leap into the new year — literally. The Danes stand on furniture, and when the clock hits 12, they jump off. It’s a symbol of overcoming the rest of the year’s challenges.

kransekagePhoto of a kransekage cake via Nordic Food & Living


This is a place with a ton of traditions. One popular one involves potatoes. They put three under a chair: one is fully peeled, one is half-peeled, and one is not peeled. Then, someone randomly chooses one without looking. Hopefully, they grab the unpeeled potato because that one predicts a good financial fortune. The peeled one, on the other hand, predicts monetary trouble in the upcoming 12 months. On the theme of good finances, some Peruvians put coins in their shoes (the ones they’re wearing), as it’s believed to bring you more money in the upcoming year. Finally, and this is one of their most famous traditions, they’ll run around the block with an empty suitcase (or backpack). This will give you good luck for big trips.

Peruvian New Year's TraditionsPhoto via Journo

While New Year's traditions around the world may differ, they all offer fun ways of closing out the previous year and looking forward to what’s to come. Perhaps you're starting a new tradition of your own this year? After all, there's never been a better time to start from scratch! 

Celebrate the New Year with Art Deco-inspired barware and home bartending tools we can't live without. Shop the collection here.

Richard Brendon BarwareFluted Cut Crystal by Richard Brendon (from $112)

And pop the champagne with these selects from our sister brand Design Milk:

KRONOS Double Wall Champagne Glass ($15 each)

Champagne Problems PuzzlePiecework Puzzles Champagne Problems Puzzle ($26)


Written by Dani Howell

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