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It is fairly universal to hear church bells ringing, people shouting, making lots of noise and throwing confetti at the stoke of midnight. This actually stems from ancient practices of driving evil spirits away from the New Year.

Ancient Rome

The practice of exchanging gifts on New Years Eve began in Rome. In the beginning, symbols of good luck were given. This developed into coins with Janus (the god of new beginnings) stamped on them. A friend would also receive a glass jar filled with dates and dried figs soaking in honey and a bay leaf branch so their year would be sweet and full with good fortune.


On New Year's Eve people go out to visit relatives and neighbors, kissing and toasting the beginning of a new year; cars honk their horns and in some streets, the neighborhood gets together for drinks and dancing all night long and go house by house to greet people. Is a tradition to have drinks and cakes to offer to visitors; some people wear fancy dresses and masks.


New Year's Eve is a night of celebration. People gather at friend's homes or in major venues of their hometowns. There is entertainment, dancing and wonderful fireworks. At midnight everyone joins hands and sings "Auld Lang Syne" There is a tradition of making a "New Year Resolution."


Pork is the traditional food as the pig always roots forward. Even sweet candy pigs are served. Conversely, lobster is avoided as it moves backwards and might cause setbacks in the New Year.


The streets of Brazil are decorated with bright colors and an abundance of bells and flowers. After midnight a late meal is served. Lentils are usually included as they symbolize good luck. Dancing and partying goes on until dawn. In Eastern Brazil, people go to the beach. At midnight people run into the waters with gifts of flowers and candles for the goddess Lemanja.


Little dolls made of wood and/or straw are hung in the doorway for good luck.

British Columbia, Canada

People plunge into the ice-cold water of Vancouver in the traditional Polar Bear Swim.


Chaul Chnam Thmey meaning Entering the New Year is celebrated on April 13th and last for three days. Homes are cleaned and decorated with flowers and balloons. People douse each other with colored water (red, pink, or yellow) as a blessing to symbolize a colorful future.


The Chinese New Year is celebrated in January or February. Homes are cleaned, debts are paid and there are celebrations and symbolic meals. Lai see small red packets with money are given out. For more information visit Chinese New Year.


Karima Oglesby from Philadelphia, PA tells us that families burn a scarecrow and a will for the New Year representing the years short-comings.


Prior to the 19th century gloves and pins were the traditional gifts for the New Year. Today, people crowd into Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square in London awaiting Big Ben to announce the start of the New Year. The "first-footer" or the first person to set foot in the house will determine the luck of the New Year. Susan Haley Cornwall, UK says “We put coal and silver coins just outside our door before midnight and bring it in after midnight to ensure that warmth and prosperity will enter our house all year round.”


Families gather and exchange homemade gifts and greeting cards. Gifts to friends and associates might include bonbons, flowers and fresh or candied fruit. ~ Gifts of money are given to children or service people, ie. postman.


Onions are used to predict the weather of the New Year. Six onions are cut in half. The cut side is salted. Each half is designated as one month of the year. They are left alone for a while, then when they are looked over the predictions are made. Onions that the salt has dissolved on--the month will be wet, if the salt is still there the month will be dry. Other superstitions include eating pork and fish for riches.


This day is also the Festival of Saint Basil, the founder of the Greek Church. Vassilopitta or St. Basil's Bread is served. Small trinkets are baked inside the bread. The people who find the trinkets in their pieces will have good luck. Greek children leave their shoes by the fireplace in hopes that Saint Basil will fill them with gifts. The "Baby New Year" is believed to have originated in ancient Greece. During the Feast of Dionysus, the god of Wine, a baby in a basket was taken about representing the rebirth of the land.


The Dutch consume lots of wonderful food on New Years Eve and drink spicy warm wine as they "eat out the old year and eat in the new".


No-ruz meaning “New Day, New Life” is celebrate on March 21st or 22nd and lasts 13 days. It is celebrated with new clothes, symbolic foods, bountiful feasts, and exchanging gifts. It is bad luck to stay indoors on the 13th day so many folks picnic. A ceremonial table called sofreh-e haft sinn , meaning “cloth of seven dishes” is set. Seven dishes are prepared, each beginning with the letter ‘s’ in Farsi, sinn: samanoo (wheat pudding), sumac (berries), serkeh (vinegar), seeb (apple), sekkeh (gold coin), sombol (flower), and sear (garlic). Each dish represents one of the seven angelic heralds of life: rebirth, health, happiness, prosperity, joy, patience, and beauty.


A sprig of mistletoe is hung over the front door to ensure good luck and at midnight old pots and dishes are tossed out of windows to bring good luck. A popular sweet treat is Chiacchiere. It is made of tiny balls of dough that resemble little lentils, the balls are drizzled with honey so the year will be sweet.


Called Shogatsu, The New Year is celebrated for three days. New cloths are worn and straw ropes and fans are stung across the front door to bring happiness and good luck and seaweed and ferns for happiness and good luck. House entries and even may be decorated with pine for youth, longevity and strength of character, bamboo for luck, and plums for virtue and courage. The New Year brings a fresh start and often Bonenkaior or "year forgetting parties" parties are thrown. On New Year's Eve, everyone gets a change to ring the bell in the Buddhist temple until it has rung a total of 108 times. Everyone laughs at the stoke of midnight to ensure good luck in the New Year. Craftsmen clean and honor their tools. Food plays an important part as well. Rice is always served and usually as mochi, a cooked glutinous rice cake shaped like a round ball.


Girls put three carnations in their hair. If the top flower dies first, the girls' later years of life will be arduous. If the middle flower dies first, her earlier years will bring her the most grief. If the bottom flower dies first, the girl will be miserable her entire life.


In the Philippines families get together, usually at someone's home and eat a midnight dinner. They also set out fireworks as a sign of happiness for the New Year. Children jump ten times when the clock strikes twelve to 'grow taller'.


People stay up until midnight when then they drink champagne and wish each other well. Then people go outside and watch the fireworks. The rest of the evening is spent sitting and talking and the kids play games, listen to the music and dance.


It is believed farm animals talk on New Year's Day. However if one hears them it is considered bad luck.


The New Year is referred to as Hogmanay, “Moon of the Hag”. Cakes and pastries are favored. Black buns and Scottish fruitcakes are baked weeks in advance and enjoyed on New Years Eve. They are served with haggis, het pint and shortbread. In some areas of Scotland large barrels of tar are set on fire to "burn out the old year". The "first-footer" or the first person to set foot in the house will determine the luck of the New Year. The well-known poem/song "Auld Lang Syne, was written by a Scottish poet, Robert Burns, 200 years ago.


"If you eat grapes on New Year's Day, you will have money the whole year." The Spanish each 12 grapes, one for each month of the New Year at the stoke of midnight.


From one of our visitors: "In Thailand on New Year day's morning we get up earlier and go to Buddha's temple; offer food for monk and do some activities there; go to visit our parents and have a party in evening or at night. Now most of people prefer to travel in this long weekend."


Grandfather Frost and Snow Girl shake jingle bells on New Year's Day, when toys and cakes are given to children.


Tet, Vietnamese New Year, is celebrated in January or February. Prior to Tet homes are cleaned and painted. Hoa Mai blossoms decorate the home. New clothes are purchased and old debts are paid. For more information visit Tet.


Children go door to door singing and wishing people a Happy New Year. They receive mincemeat pies, fruit and coins in return. In Pembrokeshire special buns are given to each child.

Jewish Community

Rosh Hashanah begins the Jewish New Year, which occurs in September or October. There are 10 Days of Penitence that ends with Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year. People ask for God for forgiveness for those promises they did not keep. For more information visit Rosh Hashanah.

United States

People gather on New Years Eve and wait for the stoke of midnight, when bells ring, noisemakers whirl, and people shout, "Happy New Year". People kiss, toast the New Year with champagne or sparking apple juice, and sing "Auld Lang Syne". Most everyone makes a New Year resolution. The idea of a New Year resolution is believed to have started in Babylon. It is the promise to do something to better oneself or to get something accomplished.

Pasadena, California

Early New Years Day the Tournament of Roses Parade begins. Large elaborate floats covered with flowers, nuts, and seeds are marveled at by spectators. The parade began in 1886 when carriages were decorated simply with flowers. The Rose Bowl, a football game, traditionally follows the parade.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

People dress in intricate costumes then parade and dance down the main streets in the Mummers' Parade, a tradition since 1901.

New York City, New York

Thousands crowd into Times Square to watch the "ball drop". A large ball covered with lights drops from the top of a skyscraper precisely at midnight on New Years Eve.


Ninna tells us that in Virginia, Christmas is celebrated by doing a dance called El Gid. “We spin in circles with many people.”

Southern U.S.

The black-eyes peas known as Hoppin John are eaten to bring prosperity in the New Year. On New Year's Day, families get together and have a wonderful dinner. This dinner must consist of pork (for health), green cabbage (for wealth), black-eye peas (for luck) and fruit salad for prosperity. Resolutions are discussed, but I can't ever remember being TOLD to have one.”