New Year’s Celebrations Around the World

New Year's Celebrations Around the World Espresso English

(See the Vocabulary list for the definitions of words in green.)


December 31st is a day for saying farewell to the previous year and looking forward to a new beginning. Many people celebrate with fireworks, champagne, kisses, and wishing each other “Happy New Year!”

Here are ten interesting New Year’s traditions from different countries:

In Japan, people clean their houses and prepare special decorations to welcome the new year’s god. Buddhist temples ring their bells 108 times at midnight.

In Spain, it is believed that wearing new, red underwear on New Year’s will bring good luck for the coming year.

Australia has one of the best fireworks displays in the world: they are launched from the Sydney Harbor Bridge to the sound of popular music.

In Scotland, friends and family members visit each other’s houses, bringing gifts such as a coin, bread, salt, coal, and whiskey. These represent wealth, food, flavor, warmth, and good cheer.

One tradition in Mexico is to make a list of all the bad things that happened in the previous year, then throw it into the fire.

In Estonia, 7, 9, and 12 are considered lucky numbers. Some people believe that you should eat 7, 9, or 12 times on New Year’s to gain strength.

In Guatemala, twelve grapes are eaten during the final countdown, making a wish with each grape.

Over 90% of the people in Iceland watch a New Year’s comedy special on television. The show provides a satirical perspective on the events of the past year.

Brazilians have the tradition of spending New Year’s on the beach, dressed in white to represent peace.

In the Philippines, throwing coins at the stroke of midnight is said to increase wealth.




Farewell = A more formal word for ‘goodbye’

Fireworks = Colorful explosions used in celebrations (see the picture)

Temples = Religious centers

Underwear = Clothes you wear under your shirt and pants

Launched = Put up into the air

Coal = A black rock that can be used as fuel

Wealth = How much money you have

Good cheer = Happiness

Strength = The noun for ‘strong’

Countdown = The process of counting backwards: 10… 9… 8… 7… etc.

Wish = Desire; something that you want to happen

Satirical = With humor or comedy

At the stroke of midnight = At exactly midnight


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