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New Year’s Eve across the world

The 31st of December is a special time for most people across the world, as we welcome a new year and can start afresh. But how do they do it across the globe? Some do it big, some do it small, and some do things that may seem downright odd.

Here are four of our favourites.

Nochevieja (Spain)

Like many New Year’s celebrations, in Spain many start their night with a sumptuous meal. But what many are unaware of if they visit the country during this time is their midnight ceremony. For every strike of the clock, a partaker has to eat a grape and make a wish. If the full twelve isn't managed, then a a year of bad luck awaits them.

This custom is said to have originated in Alicante during 1909 when some grape farmers had a lot of unused produce that they needed to get rid of.

In the modern era, it has also become common for the Spanish to wear red underwear as the colour is seen to bring good luck. These traditions have spread to other Spanish speaking nations like Mexico, too.

The ball drop in Times Square (NYC, America)

Possibly the most well-known modern celebration in the West is New York City's 'ball drop', which is televised across the country. Created by the New York Times owner Adolph Ochs in 1907, the event involves the dropping of the Waterford crystal ball in Times Square at midnight.

It is known to attract over a million people, and the build up the event generally includes high profile performers. Since 2010, it has been a custom to sing former

Manhattan resident John Lennon's Imagine to welcome in the New Year.

La Saint-Sylvestre (France, Belgium)

Celebrating NYE in France and Belgium is often a low key affair. Generally a bountiful dinner is the centrepoint, where champagne is consumed in abundance. Generally, fois gras and oysters are served. When midnight arrives the French tend to wish each other a 'bonne annee.'

The festivity lasts until the 6th of January where a Galette des Rois cake is often served, which has been a custom attached to the epiphany since the 1300s. A bean is usually put in the cake when it is being constructed, and whoever finds it in their slice is granted the prize of being king or queen for the day.

Shougatsu in Japan

Similar to preparation for the Hindu celebration, Japanese people tend to clean their homes before the arrival of the spirit, Toshigami who is the God of New Year. Those taking part tend to leave 'shinto rope' and other decorations in front of their abode to indicate that the house has been cleaned.


To rid the body of anything untoward, a buddhist bell is struck 108 times at midnight, which makes its surrounding people pure. This is known as Joya no Kane.
Of course, in major cities like Tokyo the more stereotypical act of revelry is commonplace, and fireworks light up the sky. Like Times Square, the Shibuya crossing is where large gathering is held.