Ring in the New Year with these traditions, or start one of your own!

Mary Apel

New Year’s traditions vary widely around the world. In the United States, people often gather for parties and watch fireworks displays at midnight.

Millions of Americans gather around their television sets (or on the streets of Times Square, despite freezing temps) to watch the ball drop at the stroke of midnight each year. Kicking off in 1907 to ring in January 1908, New York Times owner Adolph Ochs created the event to draw attention to the Times’s new headquarters, and it’s been an annual spectacle and one of the most popular New Year’s Eve celebrations ever since.


In Scotland, the singing of “Auld Lang Syne” is a tradition, and people often participate in “first-footing,” where the first person to enter a home after midnight is believed to bring good luck.

“Auld Lang Syne” is a Scottish poem written by Robert Burns in 1788, and the phrase translates to “old long since” or “long, long ago.” These three simple words—meaning “old,” “long,” and “since” in Scots—combine to form a phrase that translates loosely as “time gone by,” “old time’s sake,” or, in some contexts, “once upon a time.”


“In Brazil, people usually go to the beach since it’s the summer there,” says Hudson Bohr, a Brazilian photographer based in NYC. “Immediately after midnight, you’re supposed to jump seven waves while making seven wishes.”

In Denmark, the tradition is to break dishes on you rsoorstep…the bigger the pile the better the luck will be in the next year.

Traditional New Year’s foods vary widely. In many cultures, round foods like cakes or pastries are eaten to symbolize the year coming full circle. In Spain, it’s tradition to eat 12 grapes at midnight, one for each stroke of the clock. In Japan, the New Year is celebrated with visits to temples and the eating of long noodles for longevity.

Here in the South, it’s common to eat black-eyed peas and greens like collard greens or kale, which are thought to bring good luck and prosperity for the coming year.The exact origin of this tradition is not entirely clear, but it is thought to have its roots in the American South’s history and folklore. Some stories suggest that during the Civil War, when Union troops raided Confederate food supplies, they left behind black-eyed peas and pork, considering them to be food fit only for animals. This act may have helped the Confederate soldiers and civilians survive, and as a result, the tradition of eating black-eyed peas for good luck took hold. Over time, this tradition has been passed down through generations and has become a cherished part of New Year’s celebrations in the southern states.

Share this Article


Related Articles