Unusual New Year’s Eve Traditions Around the World to Try This Year

Guest post by Skye Sherman

Has there ever been a year people are more ready to say goodbye to? With all the challenges brought on by the pandemic, billions around the world are ready to leave 2020 in the rearview and embrace the hopeful light at the end of the tunnel with the arrival of 2021.

In the spirit of putting one chapter to rest and turning a new page with optimism, New Year’s Eve celebrations are expected to be more festive than ever at the close of 2020. 

With gathering in public and throwing parties remaining off-limits in many places, why not try out some funky New Year’s Eve traditions from around the world? You may find a new favorite way to ring in the new year.

In this post, we explore unusual New Year’s Eve traditions from around the world, so you can try some out for yourself—and maybe even attract the kind of year you want to have.

Spain: stuff grapes into your mouth as the clock strikes twelve

Want to ensure a prosperous new year? Try your luck with the Spanish tradition of las doce uvas de la suerte, or “the twelve lucky grapes,” which consists of popping one grape into your mouth for every strike of the clock leading up to midnight. Finish all twelve grapes in time and good luck is yours through the coming year, according to legend. 

In your rush to eat all the grapes before the clock strikes twelve, take note of whether they’re on the sweet or sour side: it’s an indicator of how the year ahead will go for you!

Philippines: embrace round things

Another way to attract prosperity in the coming year: do as the Filipinos do and surround yourself with all things round on New Year’s Eve. That includes grapes and other round foods (two traditions in one!), clothes with polka dots, coins jangling in your pockets, and anything else that’s round in shape, because this represents an abundance of coins and therefore wealth.

Boise, Idaho: witness the potato drop

Boise wants to know, “Who’s ready to drop 2020 like a hot potato?” For the eighth year in a row, Idaho’s capital will celebrate New Year’s Eve with a Potato Drop—which is exactly what it sounds like. Where New Yorkers have a ball dropping in Times Square, Idahoans have a massive potato lowering from the sky to mark the close of one year and start of the next. 

Germany: pour lead to predict your future

The central European practice of Bleigießen, also known as molybdomancy—the art of divination by dropping molten metal into cold water—allows Germans to make predictions for the year ahead (melted wax or tin works, too, to avoid the dangers of lead poisoning). 

To try it out yourself, hold a spoon containing the substance over a candle flame until it melts, then pour it into water. The shape that results is used to interpret what’s in store for you in the year ahead. For example, a heart-shaped pour might mean love is on the horizon, while an arrow-like figure means you’re heading in the right direction.

Various: plan your undergarments accordingly

In many countries around the world, the color of your underwear on New Year’s Eve is purported to have an impact on your experience in the year ahead. Want a more romantic love life? You better be wearing red undies. Looking to attract financial success? Go for gold. Wear green for good luck, blue for good health, and white for peace and happiness. Whatever you do, don’t wear black underwear on New Year’s Eve!

Denmark: break dishes against doors

Throwing dishes and plates at someone’s door might seem like an activity you’d reserve for people you don’t like, but in Denmark on New Year’s Eve, you’ll want to do it to your friends and neighbors—and hope they do the same for you. The bigger the pile of broken china outside your front door in the morning, the better off you’ll be in the new year, especially relationally.  

Colombia: take your suitcase for a run

If you’re hoping 2021 will bring plenty of opportunities to travel (who isn’t?) then try out Colombia’s tradition involving a suitcase and an expectant attitude. On New Year’s Eve, as the clock strikes midnight, take your empty luggage for a run around your house or your block. The tradition promises to bring many chances to fill that suitcase in the year ahead.


Skye Sherman is a freelance travel writer based in West Palm Beach, Florida. She’s a big fan of traveling light, reading books, and exploring historic places. Follow her adventures on Instagram @SkyeSherman and Facebook.