One of the great aspects of living abroad is enjoying new experiences, especially experiencing new customs and traditions. New Year traditions around the world vary a lot but you can be sure to find some kind of acknowledgement and welcoming of the New Year wherever you go.
In most countries, there are likely to be fireworks of course. Some of the most spectacular New Year fireworks displays can be found in Australia. Sydney is often named the ‘New Year’s Eve Capital of the World’. The Sydney Harbour Bridge, Opera house and city skyline make a fantastic backdrop for what is usually a stunning display. Make sure to get yourself a good spot to view them such as in the Botanical Gardens or on a harbour cruise. Head to Manly if you want somewhere that is more family friendly and quieter to watch the displays.
Some New Year traditions may seem unusual at first. For example, if you are a British expat living in Spain, the concept of eating 12 grapes at midnight is likely to be new to you. The 12 uvas de la suerte (the grapes of luck) is a Spanish tradition that dates back over a hundred years. A grape is eaten at the strike of each bell past midnight on New Year’s Eve to bring prosperity and luck for the coming year. Part of the tradition also involves gathering in a city’s main square to eat the grapes, such as Plaza del Sol in Madrid where the tradition originally started.
The eating of certain foods in order to bring luck is a tradition also found in Germany where sauerkraut is usually eaten on New Year’s Eve or ‘Silvester’ as it is sometimes referred to in Germany after Pope Silvester. It is said that eating sauerkraut brings blessings and wealth for the following year. Carp is also a typical German New Year’s Eve dish which is served at homes and restaurants.
In Japan, New Year or Oshogatsu is the most important holiday of the year. Many take people take part in hatsumode festivities at shrines or temples across the nation.
In Mexico, New Year’s Eve is a quieter affair than in some other countries with most Mexicans having dinner with groups of family of friends. This is apart from in Mexico City where there is a large festival which expats can join in with. Don’t forget to wish your new neighbours ‘Feliz Año Nuevo!’.
A definite contender for the ‘New Year’s Eve capital of the world’ is Brazil. If you have moved to Brazil, you may be tempted to join one of the largest New Year’s Eve parties in the world in Rio de Janeiro. Copacabana beach is known for its brilliant party atmosphere and show stopping fireworks display. It’s a must have experience for anyone new to Brazil and a great way to enjoy the country’s famous samba music.
Wherever you are in the world, John Mason International wishes all its customers and colleagues a happy new year!