Seven friends laugh as they celebrate the new year together at home with party poppers, snacks, and champagne.

3 New Year’s Traditions around the World

New Year’s celebrations are a time to commemorate new beginnings, personal growth, and the bonds we share with our fellow human beings. Each culture that recognizes a New Year holiday does things a little differently. Let’s take a look at a few!

1. Nowruz — Iran

Two people prepare offerings of food, spices, candles, and coins to celebrate Nowruz.
Two people prepare offerings of food, spices, candles, and coins to celebrate Nowruz.
Celebrants prepare a table of offerings for Nowruz.

Nowruz, meaning “new day” in Farsi, is observed on March 21 to welcome the first day of spring. Many countries around the world celebrate Nowruz, but it is widely recognized as the Persian New Year. This holiday has been celebrated for over 3,000 years and is alive with a rich history.

People honor peace, goodness, friendship, and joy by remembering spirits and legends like Rapithwina, the Spirit of Noon, and the mythological Persian king, Jamshid. Some of the most recognizable Nowruz traditions are feasts, games, traditional dances, lighting candles to remember the dead, and replenishing household stocks of water to invite abundance in the New Year.

At its core, Nowruz is about peace, and festivals everywhere overflow with joy and serve to strengthen ties between communities.

Nowruz Mubarak!

Related: Celebrating Death: From Día de los Muertos to the Hungry Ghost Festival

2. Nochevieja — Spain

A firework display is set behind a tree of lights and a large clock tower that has struck midnight to celebrate Nochevieja.
Fireworks go off behind a clock tower for Nochevieja in Spain.

Nochevieja celebrations begin on December 31, and people party well into the early morning hours of New Year’s Day.

Spain has the fun (and some might say competitive) tradition of eating “lucky grapes.” Celebrants who want to see a year of prosperity and good luck must eat 12 grapes — one with each stroke of the clock at midnight.

To make sure everyone gets the best chance at eating the grapes in time, the clock chimes are broadcasted on TV throughout the country. However, this tradition is best experienced near a large clock with other partygoers, and nowhere is this custom more exciting than in Puerta del Sol Square in Madrid.

After the grapes have been eaten, people celebrate with cava, toasts, wishes of luck, and good cheer all around. The night is topped off with hot chocolate and churros. Yum!

¡Feliz fin de año!

3. New Year’s Day — United States

A group of friends toast to the New Year with glasses of champagne and sparklers.
People party with bubbly and sparklers for New Year’s in the United States.

Similar to Nochevieja, New Year’s celebrations in the U.S. begin with New Year’s Eve on December 31. People gather with friends and family — whether at home or in a bar or club — to watch the countdown to the New Year together.

When the clock strikes midnight, tradition leads some loved ones to share a kiss. Many a snack is eaten, and champagne or other fizzy drinks imbibed. Firework displays and sparklers abound, and the iconic song “Auld Lang Syne” can often be heard. In New York City, people gather in Times Square to watch the “ball drop” at the stroke of midnight, a televised event watched by millions.

Click to watch the ball drop in New York City’s Times Square!

Then there’s the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions, which consists of making a list of promises of personal growth to uphold throughout the year. Though most people seem to have more fun betting on how long their friends and family will keep them than following their own resolutions. Post-countdown, many party until dawn to ring in the New Year.

Happy New Year!

That’s a wrap!

At CLI, we love to share our New Year’s traditions with each other. Our Slack channels are filled with pictures of our gatherings, well wishes, and stories of our favorite parts of the festivities. Reading through all the messages, it’s clear that regardless of which New Year holiday we celebrate, we all get excited for the food. Some favorites at CLI include kabobs, pickle roll-ups, and cheese … yeah, just cheese.

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