New Year's traditions: friends throwing confetti up in the air

There’s no single way to celebrate the arrival of a new year. With so many cultures, places, and customs across the world, it’s no surprise that there are countless New Year’s traditions — including some you may not have heard of before.

Read on to discover some of our favorite New Year’s traditions worldwide, from Spain and Scotland to Brazil, Japan, and beyond. It’s time to ring in a very happy New Year!

New Year’s Traditions Around the World: 18 Ways to Celebrate

New Year's traditions: woman opening a gift

From old favorites to delightful surprises, this list offers fresh inspiration for celebrating New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. While you might be familiar with a few, some traditions, superstitions, and celebrations might become your new favorite way to usher in the coming year.

1. Eat 12 Grapes

In Spain, there’s a tradition that involves eating grapes on New Year’s Eve. The goal is to eat a dozen grapes by the time the clock finishes its midnight chimes. If you do, you’ll surely have good luck for the year ahead. If you don’t, Spanish tradition says you may be looking at a year of bad luck instead.

2. Celebrate Hogmanay

New Year’s traditions: Festive Shimmer Stripes Invitation

Design: Kate Ross Design

Invitation inspiration: Festive Shimmer Stripes Invitation

Hogmanay is the old Scottish word for the last day of the year, and it’s a time of celebration in Scotland. On Hogmanay and into the first few days of the New Year, families and friends gather to spend time together, drink, and eat. The traditional Hogmanay celebration includes the element of “first-footing,” where the first person to enter your home that year should bring symbolic gifts to usher in good luck.

3. Watch a Fireworks Show

For the Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year, families and friends in China often gather to set off firecrackers or watch a fireworks show. This is a wonderful way to celebrate the arrival of a new year together — especially if you add some delicious traditional Chinese New Year snacks and express your joy with a Chinese New Year greeting.

4. Hang an Onion on Your Door

This New Year’s Eve tradition from Greece involves hanging an onion on your door. This traditional Greek custom symbolizes rebirth and the coming of a new year. When New Year’s Day arrives, parents traditionally tap the onion on children’s heads to wish them good luck for the coming year.

5. Burn Effigies

In Ecuador, traditional New Year’s Eve celebrations often include the burning of effigies at midnight. Known as “los años viejos” (the old years), these effigies typically take the form of scarecrow-like dolls representing famous figures from the past year. Burning them is said to destroy bad vibes and help folks enter the New Year with a fresh start. (Tradition says to let them burn completely but having a nearby bucket of water can ensure the fire is extinguished!)

6. Make a Leap

Many New Year’s Eve traditions involve entering the next year in a symbolic way, and Denmark’s is no exception. A traditional New Year’s Eve celebration in Denmark involves party guests literally leaping into the new year to represent a sense of excitement and joy for the year ahead.

7. Watch the Ball Drop

Disco Ball Invitation

Design: 2birdstone

Invitation inspiration: Disco Ball Invitation

One of the most well-known New Year’s traditions comes from America and involves watching the ball drop in New York’s Times Square. This longstanding American tradition involves a countdown to the stroke of midnight and watching the event unfold live in person or on a TV broadcast if you’re not at the event.

8. Gather Round Items

A fun New Year’s tradition from the Philippines involves collecting (and consuming!) round objects that symbolize wealth, money, and good luck. For instance, you can eat round fruits, donuts, cookies, and eggs; wear polka dots; and carry coins, buttons, and other round objects to welcome the New Year.

9. Dress in White

In Brazil, wearing white before the New Year is believed to usher in a sense of calm, peace, and contentment. This means you’ll often see people in Brazil wearing white on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day to honor this tradition and set the tone for the next year.

10. Wear Something Red

Champagne Starburst Invitation

Design: Inspired by Luly Yang

Invitation inspiration: Champagne Starburst Invitation

South America isn’t the only continent where what you wear is symbolic on New Year’s Eve. Over in Europe, a tradition thought to be started by the Romans suggests you should wear red. In Italy, wearing red — specifically red underwear — as the clock strikes midnight is said to bring good luck.

11. Step Into the New Year Right

Similar to the first-footing custom in Scotland, Colombia is another country where how you “enter” the new year has symbolic meaning. In Colombia, tradition says you should put your right foot forward first — so you’re entering the coming year “on the right foot.”

12. Exchange a New Year Gift

In Germany, it’s customary to present a small gift to a loved one on New Year’s Eve for good luck. This could be something symbolic like a four-leaf clover, or a more personal or practical gift like a small candle, book, or homemade German Christmas cookies.

13. Give the Gift of Money

Germany isn’t the only country where there’s a New Year’s gift-giving tradition. Japan has one known as Otoshidama, which literally means “New Year’s gift.” This is where relatives place money in an envelope and give it as a gift to a child in the family, but this can also be given to adults. It’s meant to symbolize good fortune.

14. Sing “Auld Lang Syne”

Glittering Auld Lang Syne Invitation

Design: Ashley DeMeyere Design

Invitation inspiration: Glittering Auld Lang Syne Invitation

While it’s a traditional Scottish song, many people associate the singing of “Auld Lang Syne” with English New Year celebrations. In England, families and friends gather around close to midnight to recite this popular song inspired by the words of the poet Robert Burns. Afterward, people toast and say “Happy New Year” to their loved ones.

15. Walk Through the House

Ready for some luck o’ the Irish? This is another fun tradition that involves the front door. On New Year’s Eve, folks in Ireland believe you should walk in through your front door and out through the back. It’s a custom that symbolizes entering the coming year to ensure good luck.

16. Bang Pots and Pans

Banging pots and pans may sound like a boisterous celebration — and it is! This traditional New Year’s activity is common in parts of England and Ireland. Aside from being silly and fun, banging pots and pans at midnight is said to banish away evil spirits and stop them from entering the New Year with you.

17. Make a New Year’s Resolution

While it’s not linked to one country in particular, many people practice the New Year’s traditions of setting goals or resolutions for the year ahead. It’s a time to reflect on the past year and look ahead to the next one with a fresh start and a new motivation.

18. Host a New Year’s Eve Party

Bold Statement Invitation

Design: Laura Bolter Design

Invitation inspiration: Bold Statement Invitation

Celebrating the New Year often involves spending time with loved ones, and a wonderful way to do that is by hosting a New Year’s Eve party. Plan a sophisticated gathering with a midnight champagne toast, a casual backyard BBQ with sparklers for everyone, or a virtual New Year’s Eve party with your best friends.

Whatever your go-to style, Greenvelope has plenty of New Year’s party invitations to help you spread the word. Find a design that matches your celebration, then change the layout, colors, and fonts to personalize it. Add your party details and a New Year’s greeting, then send the invitations to your guests via email or text. It’s the perfect way to invite loved ones and stay organized with easy RSVPs.

Find a Fun Way to Celebrate With These New Year’s Traditions

With so many interesting New Year’s traditions around the world, take inspiration from this list for your own celebrations.

Whether you’re hosting a party and want to send digital invitations or simply want to send a Happy New Year card to loved ones, browse our New Year’s card collection to customize your design in just a few clicks. It’ll become one of your favorite New Year’s traditions!