When it comes time to celebrate the passing of another year, people around the world often gather together and make a lot of noise in order to demonstrate their good cheer.

There are parties everywhere, full of dancing and drinks, and feasts overflowing with great food. It’s a time to watch fireworks, count down the New Year’s clock and meet with good friends. While many of the traditions and parties are similar from country to country, there are many interesting differences as well. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest New Year’s Eve parties from around the world, and the different New Year’s traditions practiced by our fellow man.

Sydney Harbor Party, Australia

Since Australia is one of the first countries to welcome in the New Year thanks to its prime location, it makes sense that there would be a massive fiesta and fireworks display over Sydney’s Harbor Bridge, accompanied by wild bashes and party boats scattered all over town, as well as out on the glistening water.

There are lots of great vantage points across the city where folks can watch the fireworks and enjoy the festivities, which pretty much guarantees revelers are going to have a spectacular time.

Twelve Grapes in Spain

Roodiparse (Public Domain), Wiki Commons
Roodiparse (Public Domain), Wiki Commons

In Spain, just moments before the strike of midnight on New Year’s Eve, it’s customary for people to eat 12 grapes. This isn’t a leisurely grape-eating event, by the way. Folks have to eat a dozen seedless grapes in 12 seconds ­–– the last 12 seconds of the year before the clock strikes midnight -- if possible. You can imagine that there are a lot of people running around with a mouthful of grapes. The tradition comes, most likely, from grape producers, and the years when there was a bumper grape harvest to sell.

Lentils and Wave Jumping in Brazil

Justinc, Wiki Commons
Justinc, Wiki Commons

Brazilians eat lentils on New Year’s Day, often in the form of lentil soup. If you eat lentils, which kind of look like coins (symbolic of money and good fortune) when cooked, you'll have wealth in the year to come. Brazilians also like to jump seven waves on New Year’s Eve (remember, it’s their summer) if there is a beach nearby, so the goddess of the sea will make their wishes come true. Seven wishes for every wave jumped. That sounds like a pretty good deal, if you ask us.

Times Square Drops the Ball in New York City

The New Year’s party in New York’s Times Square is famous all over the world. The streets are packed with people who’ve come out to listen to famous performers, and, when midnight nears, watch the ball drop and ring in the New Year.

The large and brightly colored ball is lowered 77 feet from Times Tower toward its final resting point. When the journey is complete, the old year is finished, and a new year has begun. The tradition got started in 1907, and with only a few exceptions (due to war), has been going strong ever since.

Broken Dishes in Denmark

Broken dishes new year's

Broken dishes in and near the doorway in Denmark is a longstanding tradition -- but there’s a catch. You can’t gather up your own old dishes and smash them to bits. Your friends and neighbor have to smash the dishes for you. This signifies that you have a ton of friends, which is always fortuitous. In American, if someone throws an old dish at you, that usually means he or she doesn’t like you. But during the New Year in Denmark, the exact opposite is actually true.

Burning Effigies in Hungary


When a new year rolls on by, an effigy known as "Jack Straw" is burned all over Hungary. This poor guy gets roasted to ash because he symbolizes all of the evil and bad deeds that took place the year before.

Luckily, "Jack" is only made out of straw (hence his name), so he doesn’t feel a lot of pain. Once he has been paraded around town and burnt to nothing, the people can start a fresh year with a clean slate.

Fireworks Over the Thames River, England

If you want to catch a classic New Year’s Eve celebration, a wonderful spot is the Thames River in London, near the Millennium Wheel and the Parliament. The majestic setting comes to life with a vibrant display of pyrotechnics, which take place on the last night of the year. There’s a lot of partying going on in the streets and in the pubs before and after the clocks strikes midnight, but when the fireworks begin, the people come out and turn their heads toward the sky and cheer while watching the brilliant display.

Molten Lead Tells The Future in Germany

Molten Lead Germany

In Germany, molten lead used to be a big part of the New Year’s tradition. Folks used to drip a bit of molten lead into some cold water. The shape the lead took after it cooled down would be a portent of things to come.

If the lead was shaped like a heart, you might be in store for love; if it was shaped like a coin, maybe wealth. Hopefully the lead never formed the shape of a grave marker. That would've been a bad omen indeed.

Colorful Underwear in Latin America

Colorful underwear
Pschemp, Wiki Commons

In Argentina, Brazil and other parts of Latin America, the color of the underwear you wear during the New Year’s celebrations is very important. The color of your undergarments will help you get whatever it is you desire for the year to come.

If you want love, you should wear red knickers. Yellow or green skivvies means you’ll get a lot of money. White is for purity. We have no idea what purple underwear with pink and black polka dots signifies. Maybe you’d get a wild and varied year for every color you’re rocking beneath your clothing. You can always give it a try, and let us know how it goes.

The American New Year’s Kiss

This American tradition can either be a godsend, or a pain in the keester. It all depends on who’s doing the kissing. Come the strike of midnight on New Year’s Eve, it’s customary to give someone a kiss. Back in the day, when people attended masquerade balls, the mask was a symbol of the bad stuff, or at least the things you wanted to hide, that occurred over the last year. The "New Year’s kiss" came about when the mask came off. The kiss was a mark of purification. Midnight kisses, at least historically, are a powerful thing, and shouldn’t be wasted on just anyone. So consider that before you decide who to plant one on on New Year's Eve.

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