Around the World on New Year’s Eve

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With thanks to Silver Threading and her Christmas Trees Around the World blog event, I have decided to do something a bit similar and devote my blog post this week to New Year’s Eve customs and traditions around the world.

First, my own plans: we’re staying in this New Year’s Eve, as we normally do. We got some fun games for Christmas, so we might break those out. I usually make a few dips and snacks and we’ll graze on them throughout the evening. At midnight we’ll watch the ball drop on Times Square, and that’s about it. We like a pretty low-key New Year’s Eve at our house.

Now for the things you came here to read…and in the interest of keeping things brief, I’ve chosen just a few places to highlight. Coincidentally, most are places I’d like to visit.

Scotland: I chose Scotland because it’s the setting of my next three books and I love it there. I’ve only visited once, but it made a wonderful and lasting impression. In Scotland, the last day of the year and all the celebrations that go with it are referred to as “Hogmanay.” It’s an event which has its roots in ancient customs surrounding the winter solstice, so many Hogmanay celebrations include torchlight or bonfires. “The Bells” is the midnight hour when the old year turns to the new. And in Scotland a popular custom is called “first footing” and it refers to the first person to set foot in a house after the New Year begins. Traditionally, the first foot should belong to a dark-haired male in order to bring good luck to the home. And the first-footer should always bear a gift, such as coal, shortbread, or whiskey, for the host.

Bonus Scotland tidbit: The popular New Year’s Eve song “Auld Lang Syne” was written by a Scot, Robert Burns, in 1788.

Denmark: There are two main events that take place on New Year’s Eve in Denmark. The first is the monarch’s televised speech at 6 p.m. and the second is the tolling of the Town Hall Clock in Copenhagen. Often Danes will enjoy a marzipan ring cake at midnight, and in some parts of the country the traditional New Year’s Eve menu consists of boiled cod, stewed kale, and/or cured saddle of pork. Most of the foods are lower in calories than the rich Christmas meals.

Spain: in Spain revelers (often wearing red underwear under their clothes) eat one grape for each toll of the bell at midnight on New Year’s Eve. This is supposed to bring good luck in the new year. And before (and after) the grapes, they enjoy a glass of champagne with something gold in the bottom of the flute.

Greece: The Greek tradition is to serve vasilopita (New Year’s Bread) at midnight. This almond bread is baked with a coin or a small charm inside. The head of the household cuts the bread at midnight and the person who gets the piece with the trinket inside will have good luck in the coming year.

France: New Year’s Eve in France is celebrated with a feast called le Reveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre, which often includes oysters, foie gras, and champagne. New Year’s celebrations in France last for six days, until Epiphany.

Japan: Here’s one I love. In Japan people clean their homes to usher out the old year and welcome the new. I’m wondering…if we move to Japan, will the kids clean the house? I’m guessing not. And Buddhist temples in Japan ring their bells 108 times, representing the necessity of avoiding unwholesome actions.

Whatever your plans for New Year’s Eve, I wish you and yours a happy and healthy 2016.

Until next week,


8 thoughts on “Around the World on New Year’s Eve”

  1. We hear about Christmas traditions around the world. never gave much thought to New Years traditions. Very interesting. Wishing you and your family a happy, healthy and blessed new year.


    1. When I told my kids about the Spanish traditions, they wondered whether people in Spain wear anything over their red underwear. I’ve never been, but I assume most Spaniards do! A blessed new year to you and yours, too. And I’m so glad you stopped by and left your comment!


  2. Good morning Amy
    What an awesome post… When I was young New Years Eve was a real big deal because Jan 1, was my mom’s birthday. It was always a fun time. Now, LOL, I am super lucky to reach midnight! But that’ s ok, because that just means that you spend the rest of the year that way… Asleep at midnight isn’t a bad thing 🙂

    The Scotland post also brought back memories of my mom. When my boys were babies, she would rock them and sing a song about the blue bells of Scotland. I don’t know the title but she sang it because one of the lyrics said, she wore the blue bells of Scotland, they were the color of your eyes… We all have blue eyes, and hearsay has it she sang it to us as well!

    Thanks for sharing, this brought back a couple of really sweet memories!

    Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year!

    As always, “Keep Reading and Writing!”



      1. Thank you that was beautiful. But not the song I remember, so I did some googling also. It’s not the best YouTube, but if you can get through it you will hear the lyrics. The song is called When we were Sweethearts. My mom used to sing it very slow, like a lullaby! 😀

        I hope that link comes through

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Traditions are always so interesting. Those of us in the middle of traditions often don’t think about why we do what we do, or what it means. I know when I was younger, New Year’s Eve meant staying up to kiss my sweetie at the crack of midnight, then taste a bit of champagne, and then dance for an hour or so. Now? My tradition is to kiss my sweetie at 10, pretend it’s midnight somewhere, sip some wine (champagne lost its taste a while back for me) and dance silently in my head as I dream of the new year. 🙂 Happy New Year to you!!!


    1. You’re right–traditions do change as we get older. I usually take a nap beginning at about 9 p.m.! All the best to you in 2016, and thanks for taking the time to stop by and leave your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

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