New Year’s Traditions Around the World

With the turning of a new calendar year just around the corner, I thought it fitting to discover some of the traditions cultures have imparted to say ‘goodbye’ to one year and ‘hello’ to the next.


The Scots take part in a tradition called ‘first-footing’ where shortly after midnight they visit their neighbors bringing coal for the fire. It is also thought to be good luck if the first person through your door is ‘tall, dark and handsome’ (though I believe all cultures would agree that any tall, dark and handsome visitor was good luck!).


The turning of a new year is a huge celebration in Japan starting with Bonenkai or ‘forget the year parties’ which are held to bid farewell to woes from the past year and prepare for the new year.  At midnight, the Buddhist temples strike their gongs 108 times to expel 108 types of human weakness. New Year’s Day is a day of no work and all play.


Spainerds traditionally eat twelve grapes during the twelve chimes at midnight to secure twelve happy months in the coming year.


In the continent to our south, people traditionally wear bright colored underpants when ringing in the new year. Red underwear are worn by those hoping for love and yellow underwear are worn by those wishing for prosperity in the new year.


Those in The Netherland burn Christmas trees and set off fireworks as a means of purging the old.


New Year’s Eve is a larger celebration than Christmas in Greece, as it is the main gift giving day. It is also considered St. Basil Day, as the Greek Orthodox Church forefather was thought to have died on that day. The primary tradition is the Vassilopitta or St. Basil Cake, which is baked with a gold or silver coin in it. The member of the family that receives the piece of cake with the coin is said to have good luck for the upcoming year.


Perhaps the most common tradition in the U.S. is watching the ball drop in Time Square. The ball is made of Waterford Crystals, weighs 1,070 pounds and is six feet in diameter. Since 1907, it has made a one minute descent, arriving at exactly midnight. Other New Year’s Eve traditions include kisssing a special someone at midnight, tooting blow horns and toasting champagne.

This New Year’s Eve, make a new tradition and join us at the 17th Street Grill at Timberlake. Our Executive Chef has put together a special prix fixe menu, with your choice of appetizer, soup or salad, entree and dessert, plus a champagne toast for $35/person. There will also be other popular menu items varying in price from $12-$34. Full menu is available here. Call today to make your reservation!

Tell us about your New Year’s plans or traditions!

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