Celebrating the New Year Around the World

by Mobile Illumination


We’re all pretty familiar with American New Year’s customs of parties, Times Square Ball Drops, fireworks, and funky party noise makers. But how does the rest of the world ring in the new year? New Year’s is one of those unique holidays that most cultures celebrate in some way or form. For most, this celebration comes in the form of revelry, eating special foods, and welcoming in a new year of good fortune, health, and resolutions. After spending quality time with loved ones and spreading Christmas cheer, New Year’s arrives just in time to continue the unforgettable holiday festivities, lighting, and decorations.

Since most countries follow the Gregorian calendar today, most celebrate the New Year on December 31st and January 1st. Some cultures, like the Chinese, follow a different calendar (such as the lunar calendar) and so celebrate at a different time in the year. Even though New Year’s celebrations around the world fall at different times of the day and year, the idea behind the holiday remains the same. New Year’s universal concept of future luck, health, prosperity, and peace is what makes the holiday so special. So let’s take note of something we all have in common, while celebrating the different ways we usher in good luck and success. Get your New Year’s hats, decorations, and resolutions ready and we’ll wholeheartedly welcome in 2018 together!

New Year’s traditions around the world range from quirky to rambunctious to heartwarming. Here are some of the interesting ways people around the world recognize and embrace the passing of time.


On New Year’s Eve, people eat 12 grapes as the clock strikes 12. One grape for each toll will ring in good luck for the months ahead.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Ricans clean their houses, cars, the streets, and more. They also rid themselves of bad energy by throwing buckets of water out the window.


Brazilians make dishes featuring legumes (especially lentils), which are thought to resemble coins and thus prosperity.


The Chinese New Year is full of the color red, which signifies happiness and good luck. People hang red lanterns, paint their front doors red, give red envelopes of money to children, and set off firecrackers.


New Year’s, or Oshogatsu, is celebrated with special dishes including mochi (Japanese rice cakes). People spend time with family and decorate with pine, bamboo, and plum tree sprigs to honor the dead and bring longevity, prosperity, and steadfastness.

The Philippines

In the Philippines, round things are thought to symbolize the circularity of time and future good fortune. Eating round foods, carrying round coins in pockets, and wearing polka dots are commonplace.


In Mexico, people eat a late night dinner with family featuring lentil soup. Mexicans also sweep the house to get rid of bad energy and wear red underwear for good luck.


Italians gather with family for a feast of lentils, pork or sausage, and grapes. They also enjoy revelry in the streets and fireworks. In some parts of the country, people throw dishes out their windows to symbolize a new start.


In Austria, there are countless concerts in the streets, people dancing to the waltz, and fireworks. Austrians also eat pork, representing progress and success.

So while you’re taking down your Christmas lighting and decorations, take some time to learn about the interesting and diverse New Year’s customs around the world. And if you’re adventurous, try out one of these traditions next New Year’s for extra good luck and fortune!