The clock strikes twelve and the world cheers. The new year is here! A time for celebration, family, and good times. All around the world, the sentiment is common but traditions are vastly varied. Each country and community celebrates the new year with a plethora of unique traditions and customs. In this blog, we’re talking about some fun traditions followed in China, Japan, Italy, France, South Korea, and Germany. Read along to learn how to wish your loved ones a Happy New Year just like the locals do!
The Gregorian New Year in China
China has not always been a celebrator of the Gregorian New Year; this change took place country-wide when the Communist Party of China came to power. The Chinese celebrate their New Year on a different date according to the Lunar calendar that they follow. Usually, in China, folks spend the evening of 31st December with friends and family or attend corporate parties. Around midnight in Beijing, the public gathers in Tiananmen Square and enjoys an exciting fireworks show on the backdrop of the Forbidden City.
Copy and paste to send a wish in Mandarin Chinese: 元旦快乐!
New Year celebrations in Japan
The New Year is important for Japanese families. In the Japanese culture, “firsts” are crucial in the new year including the first sunrise, the first temple visit, and even the first dream. They believe that the object appearing in your first dream is a notion of the upcoming year. For the first 3 days of the year, Japanese families don’t cook at home. Instead, they prepare Osechi Ryouri — long-lasting delicacies — before 31 December and share them into the new year.
Around 8 o’clock on 31 December, Jyoya no Kane is performed where a temple bell is rung 108 times. The last bell rings at midnight, bringing in the new year. It is believed that humans have 108 temptations and desires and they leave the body with each ring of the bell.
Copy and paste to send a wish in Japanese: 新年開けましておめでとうございます
Italian New Year traditions
For the Italian New Year, underwear is an important gift and it must be red. Italians gift each other red underwear which they wear on the first day of the new year. This is considered to be lucky and brings in a prosperous year. Wearing only brand-new underwear is one of the rules! Italians also celebrate by popping a bottle of prosecco (sparkling wine) to celebrate.
In some parts of the country, people throw old items out of the window or eat lentils or grapes.
Copy and paste to send a wish in Italian: Tanti auguri di buon anno!
German New Year traditions
While celebrating the new year, Germans drink feuerzangenbowle, a mix of wine, spices, rum, oranges, lemons, ginger, and sugar. It is usually served with a rum-soaked loaf set on fire right above the glass of feuerzangenbowle so that the cake melts into the drink. This is accompanied by krapfen, a jam-filled doughnut.
In some German communities, they heat a little bit of lead in a metal spoon and pour it into a glass of water. The shape made by the lead in the water is meant to reveal what the next year is destined to bring.
Copy and paste to send a wish in German: Einen guten rutsch ins neue jahr
New Year celebrations in South Korea
Korea, like China, celebrates the Lunar New Year with a lot more pomp and vigour than the Gregorian New Year. On 31 December, New Year parties are popular among everyone, young and old! Koreans celebrate the first day of the year by watching the sunrise on January 1st.
Copy and paste to send a wish in Korean: 새해 복 많이 받으세요
Ring in the New Year, Spanish style
In Spain, the most common New Year tradition is to eat grapes while ringing in the year. Spaniards eat 12 grapes, one at each stroke of midnight, and make 12 wishes for the upcoming year.
Much like the Italians, Spaniards gift each other underwear to wear on the first day of the new year. In Spain, underwear is yellow instead of red!
Copy and paste to send a wish in Spanish: Feliz año! Que tengas un año nuevo prometedor y satisfactorio!
Happy French New Year!
The New Year coincides with Saint Sylvestre celebrations in France. Families enjoy elaborate meals with up to 15 courses. These meals typically include fois gras and oysters. Popping champagne is an important ritual as is gifting a bonus to anyone who works for you, including cleaners, postmen, etc.
Copy and paste to send a wish in French: Bonne année! Que la santé et la réussite vous accompagnent dans tous vos projets!