New Year’s Eve Traditions from Around the World

If you don’t have your own New Year’s Eve traditions, explore some of these for delicious food and good luck for a happy and healthy 2018!


Philippines, “Bisperas ng Bagong Taon”  

For food, noodles are served to signify long life and eggs to signify new life. Delicacies made from sticky rice are served to make good fortune stick around throughout the year. To signify the twelve months of the year, twelve round fruits are gathered for good luck throughout the year. Noises are also important for the new year celebration; firecrackers, pots and pans, car horns, whistles and empty cans are all used to scare away evil spirits. And before the clock strikes midnight, all doors, windows, and windows are left open to allow good luck to enter.


Ireland, “Oíche na Coda Móire”

New Year’s Eve is also known as “the night of the big portion” in Ireland, as people eat a larger meal than usual to ensure plenty of food in the new year. A special bread or cake is baked to bang against the doors and walls and expel the bad luck from the home while welcoming the good spirits. It is also an Irish tradition to put mistletoe, holly, and ivy under your pillow to dream of your future spouse. And a spotlessly clean house is important for the beginning of the New Year to signify a fresh start.


Italy, “Festa di San Silvestro”  

Lentils are served because of their coin-like shape for prosperity, white risotto for wealth, and tortellini or cappelletti in broth to “cap off” the old year and begin the new one. Similar to the Philippines, Italy, specifically the northern region, pots and pans are banged to expel bad luck. In the south, “out with the old, in with the new” is practiced to get rid of prior bad luck, usually throwing these items from upstairs windows.


Russia, “Novoy Goad”

There are two New Year’s holidays celebrated in Russia. However, the “Old” New Year according the Orthodox calendar is a much smaller celebration. The “New” New Year is celebrated December 31 to January 1st, with Olivier salads, herring, mandarin oranges, caviar and sparkling wine. The New Year is a widely celebrated holiday in Russia as during the Soviet era Christmas was erased from the calendar and thus the traditions were shifted to New Year’s and have stayed there since. At 11:55pm, a speech by the Russian president is broadcasted and describes the past year for the country. Once the clock strikes midnight, within twelve seconds, champagne is poured and wishes are written down on paper and burned. Russians celebrate the evening with relatives and don’t leave the house or begin partying until after midnight. 


Greece, “Protohronia”

A traditional Greek dessert served during New Years is vasilopita, or “basil bread,” which is a New Year’s cake or bread with a small coin or medallion inserted somewhere in it. Greeks believe that the person who finds the object in his or her piece will enjoy extra fortune during the upcoming year. Onions are hung from the door because it is believed that they will help the family of the household grow and experience rebirth of their own in the new year, like an onion. Greeks also practice Kalo Podariko, the New Year’s tradition of smashing pomegranates to bring good luck.