New Year Traditions from Around the World

🎊 How Children All Over the World Celebrate the New Year

By Kyrie Collins, Highlands Ranch-Parker-Castle Rock-Lone Tree Publisher December 14, 2019

From the American South to the hills of Romania, here's how children ring in the New Year with their parents.

Mothers make a special bread for their family, kneading luck and good wishes into the dough before it is baked.

People spend months creating elaborate costumes for the Junkanoo parade. The strangest and most beautiful costumes win prizes.

Families hang little homemade straw or wooden dolls outside their homes for good luck.

The Danes throw old dishes at the doors of friends' homes for good luck. Finding a big pile of broken dishes on the morning of January 1 means you have lots of friends!

Families celebrate Año Viejo (Old Year) by stuffing old clothing with newspaper and firecrackers, much like a scarecrow. At midnight, each family sets its dummy ablaze, representing the departure of the old year.

Parents fill their children's shoes with presents at night. They tell the little ones the gifts are from St. Basil, who was known for his kindness and generosity to children and the poor. Folks eat doughnuts or other ring-shaped pastries to represent that the year has come full circle.

The Japanese decorate their front doors with pine branches and bamboo to bring health and long life. They may also add fans, seaweed, or ferns for happiness and good luck. Children are given small gifts of money called otoshidamas. At midnight, bells and gongs are rung 108 times to chase away 108 troubles, and people laugh to drive away the bad spirits. Families dine on long noodles to represent a long life.

Folks eat doughnuts or other ring-shaped pastries to represent that the year has come full circle.

In the north, children go caroling, singing old songs called Janeiros from home to home, where they are given sweets and coins. Pork is the traditional dinner, representing progress and prosperity. (Pork is also eaten in Austria, Cuba, and Hungary.)

Puerto Rico 
Children throw pails of water out the window at midnight to rid their homes of evil spirits.

Children wish people a happy new year by touching them lightly with a bouquet called a sorcova, which consists of twigs from an apple, pear, cherry, or plum tree to represent fertility, health, and purity. Traditionally the twigs would have been placed in water on November 30 so they'd blossom by New Year's Eve. Today people decorate the twigs with flowers made of colored paper.

When the clock strikes midnight, people eat 12 grapes, one for every stroke of the clock and for good luck in each month of the new year.

The Swiss let a drop of cream land on the floor on New Year's Day to bring good luck.

United States 
Many Southerners eat black-eyed peas and keep a penny in their pockets on New Year's Day. Both were supposed to bring a prosperous year. It so happens that the Southern dish Hoppin' John is the perfect dish for watching College Football Bowl Games too! Leave three black-eyed peas in your bowl to bring about luck, fortune, and romance. Eat it with cornbread (the color of gold) and/or collard greens (the color of paper money) to further increase your abundance. Legumes and leafy greens are also traditionally eaten on New Year's Day in Germany, Italy, and Ireland.

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