New Year’s Eve Traditions by Isabelle Feilchenfeldt


It’s that time of the year again. Christmas has just passed, and New Year’s Eve is approaching. And whilst fireworks are fairly typical all across the world, many countries have their own New Year’s Eve traditions. Whilst Brazilians colour code their underwear, Germans melt their lead and the Spaniards eat their grapes … 

BRAZIL & UNDERWEAR – In Brazil underwear becomes very important on New Year. People wear different coloured underwear with each colour having a different meaning. 

  • Yellow stands for money
  • Pink for love
  • Red for passion
  • Green for health
  • Blue for tranquillity
  • White for piece
  • Orange for professional success

This special underwear is supposed to bring luck in its special meaning. Not only Brazil follows this tradition but several countries in Middle and South America take part in this.

Isabelle talks about the interesting traditions celebrating New Year's Eve, from jumping to melting lead.

image credit:

DENMARK & THEIR JUMP– When celebrating indoors, the Danish turn on their TV’s and stand on top of the highest viewing point in the room during the countdown. They then jump into their New Year. This jump symbolises a person’s overcoming of possible difficulties or challenges which they could face in the New Year. Often this is followed by the two Danish national anthems and other traditional songs. 

image credit: Copenhagen New Year’s Eve © Stig Nygaard/Wikimedia Commons

SPAIN & GRAPES – Similarly to brazil, here they also wear red underwear if they are in search of love. However, Spaniards have another tradition which supposedly brings luck in the New Year. In Spain people eat 12 grapes before midnight ends. With each Chime of the Clock they eat one grape which is supposed to bring luck to one month of the New Year. Again, this tradition is widely spread throughout Spanish speaking countries.  

image credit: PHOTO:Phatymak’s Studio / Shutterstock

COLUMBIA & SUITCASES– If one is in search of an adventurous year full of travelling and excitement, a Columbian tradition is to walk around the block on New Year’s Eve with an empty Suitcase. Again, underwear features heavily here as according to Columbians, wearing new yellow underwear on New Year’s Eve brings love, prosperity and luck. However, here one wears them in reverse for the entire day until at midnight you put them on correctly.

GERMANY & LEAD – On New Year’s Eve, Germans place some lead or tin onto a spoon and melt it by holding it over a small flame like a candle. They then drop it into cold water. The melted lead will quickly cool to form some strange shapes which are supposed to tell one what the New Year will bring. This is called “Bleigießen” (Lead Pouring) and is a form of fortune telling.

image credit: Melting the tin for lead-pouring. PHOTO: Micha L. Rieser, Wikimedia Commons

GREECE & THEIR ONIONS – Typically the Greek hang an onion on their front door on New Year’s Eve. This is a symbol of rebirth and growth and is meant to bring happiness and prosperity in the New Year. Then, on the next morning, parents wake up their children by tapping the onion on their heads. This tradition was established in Crete where the wild onion grows. It was a symbol of great natural power and so they hung these onions on their doors. Now it is less customary. 

image credit: Hanging Onions │ © Joi Itol/Flickr

Whilst our ways of celebrating might differ, the importance of the beginning of a New Year remains the same. Happy New Year!

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