Paint your doors and get some grapes: the countdown to the new year has begun!

As the clock strikes midnight on 31 December, people from around the world break out in cheers and celebration, wishing each other good luck for the new year. Yet, as nations and regions differ in culture and history, so do their end-of-year traditions. Here are some examples of how countries ring in the new year 

Luxembourg

Besides the traditional fireworks at midnight, end-of year customs revolve mainly around food in the Grand Duchy. The Luxembourger likes to celebrate “Neijoerschdag” with meat, ranging from a simple plate of ham, sausage, cheese and pâté to a meat fondue. This is traditionally followed by a butter cake in the shape of a calendar. The preferred drink to wash it all down is a nice glass of ice-cold crémant.

Belgium

For 1 January, children in Belgium write so-called “New Year’s letters” to their parents or godparents, containing holiday greetings and good wishes. These are often decorated with roses, angels, cherubs and a ribbon, and read aloud as the clock strikes midnight. Adults mostly stick to eating, drinking and merry-making.

France

 What could be more French then eating a stack of pancakes, or “crêpes”, to ring in the new year? Chasing them down with some champagne, perhaps. Some also opt for the traditional kiss under the mistletoe at midnight. Oh la la!

Germany

Our German neighbours consider lead to be auspicious. On New Year’s Eve, they pour molten lead into cold water and the resulting shape is said to predict the future. A heart shape symbolises marriage whereas any round shapes denote good luck. If you get an anchor, you may need some assistance in the upcoming year. All is well as long as you don’t get a cross – this stands for a looming death in the family.

China

New Year’s in the land of the dragon requires some serious DIY abilities. Every front door is painted red, which symbolizes happiness and good fortune. They also hide all the knives since it’s believed that if somebody cuts themselves on New Year’s Eve, it’ll ruin the good luck of the whole family for the following 12 months. Good thing they use chopsticks!

Ecuador

This South American country lives up to its hot-blooded reputation even on New Year’s. People burn paper-filled scarecrows, effigies, and photographs from last year – all in the name of good fortune. The men also sometimes dress up as women to commiserate with the widows of the past year.

Russia

Instead of New Year’s resolutions, Russians make wishes at the end of the year. They write what they hope for on a piece of paper, burn it and pour the ashes into a champagne glass. These have to be drunk before 12 January for the wish to come true. Cheers to that!

Spain

Spaniards get a healthy start to the new year. At midnight, it’s tradition to eat 12 grapes quickly in time with the 12 strikes of the clock. This custom is said to guarantee good luck and happiness for the year to come.

Mexico

On New Year’s Eve, many Mexicans decorate their homes in different colours, each representing something they wish for in their future. Red stands for love, yellow for work and green for money.

Denmark

Danes like nothing more than smashing plates on their neighbours’ and friends’ doorstep at the end of the year. The shards are a token of solidarity and friendship. The more broken crockery you find outside your door, the better your luck for the upcoming months.

So there you have it: people do crazy things to ring in the new year. Who knows, maybe we have inspired you to try out some of these customs or even start your own end-of-year tradition. Whatever you do, we wish you a happy new year!

Articles that might interest you

  • The queen of cards. There are many different types and they offer many possibilities other than cashless payment, from differed repayment to additional guarantees on purchases.

  • 3D Secure is an internationally recognised security standard for online payments. The service is limited in Luxembourg to credit cards.

  • If it’s true that when we shop in a store and handover physical cash, the pain of paying finds the act prompts more awareness about spending, and parting with cash may even hurt a bit more than swiping a bank card.