6 Unique Cultural New Year’s Traditions


Valeria Castillo Colmenares, Contributing Writer

Different cultures welcome the change of the year with unique New Year’s traditions of their own. We surveyed members of the school community to hear about their unique family customs to bring in the new year. Here is a list of traditions from all around the world with their meanings and how to perform them, so that you may cheerfully mark the end of 2021 and manifest your hopes for the beginning of the year 2022. 

1. Spain — Eat 12 grapes at midnight

One of the most common traditions people do is to eat 12 “lucky” grapes. According to the Spanish tradition, you must eat them starting at the first stroke of midnight and with each toll of midnight, you must eat another grape, giving you twelve seconds to eat them all. The dozen grapes represent the 12 months of the year. Each time you eat a grape, you make a wish. According to this tradition, eating the twelve grapes leads to a year of good luck and prosperity.

2. South America — Carry around an empty suitcase

Originating from South American countries like Venezuela and Colombia, carrying around an empty suitcase is an important tradition to many people on New Year’s Day. Walking on the block with an empty suitcase is a way to ensure a year with many travels and voyages. It is said that the faster and further you go, the more you will travel during the year. 

3. Latin America — Wear a specific color underwear

Wearing nice clothes for New Year’s Day is not just the only important thing to some people, but rather what they are wearing underneath. This tradition comes from Latin American countries. Each color has a meaning: yellow signifies luck and happiness, red represents love and passion, and green means more nature in your life. It is said that the underwear has to be new. This is a fun tradition to do, since you get to choose which color according to its meaning you want to wear. 

4. Ireland — Open doors of the house

An interesting tradition coming from Ireland is opening the back door of the house to let the old year out, and opening the front door to let the new year in. This is done before midnight and once the clock strikes midnight, neighbors go outside and wish each other a happy new year. 

5. Brazil — Wear white clothes and jump over seven waves

These two things are done by Brazilians. People from Brazil usually spend New Year’s at the beach, so it is common to see them jumping over waves at midnight. Seven waves are jumped for good luck and each time you jump one, you make a wish for the new year. Wearing all white is also necessary for them.The color white plainly means peace, so by wearing white outfits, they hope to attract peace and prosperity to their new year.

6. Global — Watch fireworks

China invented fireworks in the seventh century A.D. to chase away the evil spirits. Noise and fire were thought to eliminate evil spirits and bring good luck. Although fireworks come from China, watching fireworks at midnight is a very popular tradition for Americans to do on New Year’s. Almost in any park in the United States, you can see fireworks, but the most popular place is at Times Square in New York.

New Year traditions are important for cultures to continue to grow. Traditions bring the holiday season and the year to an extraordinary end. For many people, it is a good reminder of optimism and can make the new year more special. Remember though, traditions are a way to stay positive, but it’s the way you act that will change what your year will be like.