New Year Trivia: Interesting Facts You Probably Don't Know

  • 2 months   ago

How will the world welcome the year 2021 amid the pandemic? 

Millions of people around the world are experiencing a New Year’s Eve like no other – with lockdowns, restrictions and curfews in place in dozens of countries in an attempt to stem the spread of Covid-19 before vaccination drives start to take effect.

Did you know that in the previous years, countries around the world have different ways to celebrate the occasion?

Here are some interesting facts you will probably just learn now about the New Year’s celebration worldwide:


Filipinos believe everything should be round on New Year’s Eve. This represents coins and is said to bring wealth into the future. The celebration includes plenty of noise with horns, music, yelling, blowing whistles, clanging pots and pans, and lighting firecrackers to keep away bad luck and evil spirits. They also eat traditional pancit noodles and delicacies like malagkit and biko. Before the clock strikes midnight, all the windows and doors, including cabinets, cupboards, and drawers, are left open to allow good luck to enter.

It’s always best to welcome the new year abundantly, so many Filipinos make sure that their water and rice containers are full during the new year celebration because they believe that this will make their life prosperous all year round.

Photo courtesy of: Sheryn, Filipino Expat in Qatar


People of Denmark practice throwing dishes at the doorsteps of other people. This is believed to bring many new friends to the person on whose doorsteps the dishes are thrown.

Denmark also has a custom of making an evening meal ending with Kransekage. This is actually the name of a dessert which is actually a cone-shaped cake with a steep slope. The cake is then decorated with flags and firecrackers.


Spanish tradition is to eat 12 grapes at midnight of 31st December. While eating these grapes, Spaniards will make wishes. This tradition is believed to bring good luck for those who practice it. This grape eating tradition started back in 1895.


New Year’s Eve, or Oshogatsu, is marked by all the bells in the country getting rung 108 times. This aligns with the Buddhist belief of bringing cleanliness into the new year. In Japan, the holiday is celebrated with a three-day festival full of games, food, and family. People place kadomatsus (pine branches, bamboo, plum twigs) outside their home, one on either side of the entrance, as a way to welcome good spirits. As in China, children are given otoshidamas which are small gifts or decorated envelopes with money.


Even though it’s on the other side of the world, Thailand adopts the same custom of throwing water as in South American countries. However, their tradition also includes smearing each other with gray talc during Songkran. The talc represents the sins of the previous year with the water washing away all wrongdoings. The entire festival lasts for three days and includes lighting candles and incense at shrines. As in other countries, they also play games, eat traditional foods, and spend quality time with family.

South Korea

New Year’s Eve is a special occasion in South Korea. Many of their seaside towns hold “sunrise festivals” where people watch the first sunrise of the New Year. If you make a wish as the sun rises, it will come true for the new year. Some people also write down their hopes and dreams and put them in balloons or lanterns that are released into the sky. Koreans wear traditional hanboks and focus on reconnecting with family. They also make duk gook rice cakes or dumplings to offer to their ancestors.


The Chinese New Year occurs anywhere between late January and the third week of February. Parades of dancing dragons and lions, representing longevity and wealth, weave their way through crowded streets. People throughout the country light plastic firecrackers to create loud noises that scare away evil spirits. Additionally, families give out lucky money to their loved ones. These are put in red envelopes with their family name and good luck messages written in gold.


Talk of Greek traditions and you will find kremmida or onions hanging on their doors. They hang the onions on their doors on New Year’s Eve wishing their children’s goodwill.

Greeks also have the tradition of breaking pomegranates right at their doorsteps. This tradition is believed to bring good luck and prosperity. 

For ancient Greeks, flooding of the Nile every year marked the beginning of the New Year.


New Year’s Eve has a special name in Belgium. It is known as Sint Sylvester Vooranvond. People in this country toast with customary champagne and children write letters to godparents or parents on the day of New Year.

United States

In the United States, the most popular tradition is dropping the New Year Ball in New York City’s Times Square exactly at 11:59 PM. The ball goes through a minute-long descent and hits the ground at the stroke of midnight.

The dropping of the New Year Ball is actually a pretty new tradition that started only in 1907. Though currently the ball is made of Waterford Crystal, it was originally made of wood and iron.

America has another pretty popular New Year tradition, which is known as the Rose Bowl. The tradition started back in 1890 featuring the Rose Parade is California’s Pasadena. The parade features floats festooned with eighteen (18) million flowers.


Celebrate the holiday during the peak of the summer. In Australia, they celebrate New Year’s Eve while the sun is shining bright. Fireworks mark the end of the new year, the most elaborate occurring at midnight in Sydney Harbor. The day is meant for relaxation, visiting family and friends, and if you have time, attending one of the many horse racing carnivals, parades, or summer fairs.


If you want to ensure you don’t go hungry make sure you celebrate New Year’s Eve in Estonia. Traditionally, people eat seven, nine, or twelve meals a day with the goal of having abundance in the next 365 days. These numbers are considered the luckiest so it’s completely encouraged to cheat on your diet and start the new year with an extra pound or two. Rest assured, leaving some food on the plate for ancestral spirits is encouraged.


Before getting excited about the new year, people in Ireland make sure to spot clean their entire house. They even go outside and give the same TLC to their garden and cars. When it gets closer to midnight, it’s tradition to throw bread at the walls to chase away evil spirits. This is followed by a special dinner where they reminisce about family and close friends who passed away. To honor their loved ones, they leave the door unlatched and set a place at the table.


Neighbors visit each other and impart wishes to celebrate Hogmanay. The first person to cross the threshold of a home in the new year should carry in a gift for good luck. However, it’s considered most lucky if the “first-footer” is a tall handsome man with dark hair. Meanwhile, the celebration outside involves traditional bagpipes and drums playing. There are also balls made of wire filled with paper and material scraps that are set on fire and tossed into the bay.


Berlin is home to one of the largest New Year’s Eve celebrations in Europe with millions of people showing up each year. It’s called Silvester and involves parties, fireworks, and Sekt (German sparkling wine). At home, families melt lead by holding a flame under a tablespoon. They pour it into a bucket of water and the pattern is said to predict the coming year. A heart/ring shape means an upcoming wedding, a ball means luck will roll your way, and a pig means you’ll have plenty of food.

What time is New Year 2021 around the world? Hour-by-hour schedule, and which countries are first and last?

People around the world will be celebrating the start of the New Year, but due to the time difference, we won’t all be doing so at once.

• Among the first to welcome 2021 will be Christmas Island (Kiritimati), Samoa and Tonga. American Samoa is among the last, with an 11-hour time difference with the UK.


The earliest celebrations of the New Year came around the same time as the invention of the calendar, dating back to ancient Mesopotamia over 4,000 years ago. New Year’s Eve customs around the world are all unique with each country having their own way of celebrating. 

The new year superstitions are meant to create good luck, fortune, happiness, and overall a better near future. Whether you’re backpacking through Europe or enjoying the sights down under, there’s no doubt you’ll feel both nostalgic and hopeful for the new year. It just goes to show these feelings are universal and are shared by everyone on this special holiday!

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