New Year's Eve Customs From Around the World

Filed under: Holidays


We'll be spending our New Year's Eve the way we always have since we became parents ... at home. Our trusty babysitters are lucky enough to have a social life (and an annual party invitation), so we stay in. Sometimes we have company, sometimes we don't, but it's starting to feel like tradition, this staying in on New Year's Eve.

This year, for the first time, our girls seem like they might be old enough to stay up with us without putting everyone in danger of a major meltdown. Because it won't be just the grown-ups chinking champagne glasses at midnight, I've been looking around for some fun things for the kids to do to celebrate the New Year. I found some inspiration in New Year's customs from around the world. If you and your kids are staying in tonight, maybe you'll need a little inspiration too.



In Spain, they eat twelve grapes at midnight, one for good luck for each month of the new year. While the adults sip champagne, the kids can each get their own special glass with twelve grapes inside and look forward to a whole year of fun.

Shortly after midnight in Scotland, people pay a visit to their neighbors -- a practice called first-footing -- often bearing small gifts. It's considered especially lucky if your first guest of the new year is a tall, dark, and handsome man.

The Japanese spend December holding "forget the year" parties, letting go of past problems and concerns, and even scrubbing their house clean. At midnight, temples strike 108 gongs, one for each of the human weaknesses. You might not have a gong, but if you've had an especially difficult year, today might be a good time for kids to say goodbye to difficult or hurt feelings.

In Greece they serve Vassilopitta, a special cake baked with a silver or gold coin inside. It's considered lucky to get the piece with the hidden coin (assuming you don't accidentally eat it, that is!).

What's all that noise? In the Philippines, kids jump up and down at midnight so that they'll grow tall in the new year. They also wear polka dots and eat round fruit, which is said to bring prosperity. If your kids are really into jumping, tell them that Danish kids jump off chairs at midnight, which is said to banish bad spirits and bring good luck.

In Central and South American countries like Brazil, Ecuador, and Venezuela, people buy brightly colored underwear. Red and yellow are especially popular colors. Red is thought to bring money in the new year, yellow, love.

Do you have any New Year's traditions? Share them with us!

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.