As 2020 comes to an end – finally – I couldn’t have been more excited for the new year! However, this year, just like many other occasions, the celebrations for New Years will be rather different. Here are some different countries and their customs to welcome the new year to remember what we will be missing out on.


Japan welcomes the new year by ringing all the bells around the country 108 times. This tradition ties back to the Buddhist belief and is thought to bring cleanliness. There is a three-day celebration filled with gatherings, games, and food.


If you are fond of eating, you should consider a trip to Estonia for the new year. Estonians eat seven, nine, or twelve meals a day to make sure they will spend the next year with abundance. Furthermore, it is expected to leave a few bites for the spirits of the loved ones.


Ethiopia considers the year to have a 13th month! They celebrate the New Year on the 11th of September. The celebration is called Enkutatash – which means the gift of jewels. This tradition dates back to when the Queen of Sheba was gifted with various jewels on her trip.


People of Ireland make sure that they clean their houses until it’s entirely spotless. As midnight approaches, they throw bread crumbs to the walls to chase away bad spirits. Then they unlock the door, welcoming the spirits of dead loved ones for them to join them for dinner.


In Turkey, people will smash a pomegranate and put the kernels in front of their doorsteps, wishing luck for the next 12 months. 

South Korea

In South Korea, people gather at festivals where they wait for the sunrise and make a wish. They also write their wishes and put them in balloons, hoping that the new year will bring them all true. 


Berlin holds the largest new year celebrations all around Europe, welcoming millions of tourists each year. The celebration is called Silvester and involves big gatherings and alcohol. At home, lead is melted on a tablespoon and then poured into water. This is considered a tell of the next year.


People in Ecuador burn scarecrows at midnight to celebrate the new year. These scarecrows are modeled to look like someone who has wronged them – could be a politician or a celebrity. This tradition dates back to yellow fever where dead bodies with the purpose of purification.


In Scotland, people celebrate Hogmanay (the new years) with traditional bagpipes and drums. In their homes, the first person who enters the threshold in the new year carries a present for luck (it is considered to be even more lucky if the person entering the threshold is a tall, handsome man with dark hair). 


In Senegal, the new year is welcomed with the Le Fanal Festival. The festival can be summarized with one word – colourful. People light lanterns, play drums and show up with innovative costumes.


People in Peru put three potatoes under their chairs – one unpeeled, one half peeled, and one completely peeled. They close their eyes and randomly choose one which they consider to be a teller for the next year. If you pick the one with the skin, you’ll have prosperity; if you pick the half-peeled one you’ll have a normal year; if you pick the peeled one you’ll be unfortunate the whole year.


In Zimbabwe, the new year’s celebration lasts for three days. They gather around Jameson Vic Falls Carnival. With various activities, the experience is highly entertaining.


As the clock hits midnight in Spain, people will eat 12 grapes slowly, as they make a wish with each one. If they are able to fit all the grapes in their mouths, all their dreams will come true.


Big gatherings are a must for Danes. They listen to their queen’s speech and head towards the Royal Palace in Copenhagen for the countdown. It is expected to shatter plates and jump off chairs as the clock hits midnight.

Some traditions have come and gone, some are still carried on. What makes them special that it brings people together and encourages them to open a new chapter in their lives – which has been difficult this past year.

Whatever way you choose to welcome the new year, I hope all of you have health, happiness and that you’ll be able to fulfill every wish you couldn’t get to this year. 

This article was written by guest writer Sena Sarı. Sena is 17, she enjoys researching about her interests, drawing, and reading.

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