As the clock strikes midnight, bidding farewell to 2023, people worldwide engage in diverse rituals, ushering in the promise of good fortune for the coming year. Whether you're a tradition enthusiast or eager to infuse freshness into 2024, these customs offer a unique start.

Ever wondered about the "why" behind your favorite New Year's Eve practices? From noisy pot-banging to the timeless midnight kiss, each ritual holds a fascinating backstory.

Uncover the magic behind these age-old practices and consider embracing a new tradition, while injecting a burst of excitement into your New Year's celebration.


Burning a scarecrow

Scarecrow Pixabay

In Ecuador, burning scarecrows is more than a New Year's tradition; it's a way to start fresh. People make scarecrows with clothes, paper, and straws to represent bad things from the past year. When they burn these scarecrows, it's like getting rid of the negativity. The community lets go of the problems from the previous year, and everyone looks forward to a new beginning with a positive outlook. This ritual brings people together, helping them leave behind any leftover bad feelings and start the new year with a clean slate.


Forgetting chores

Chores Pixabay

According to Chinese superstition, avoiding chores on New Year's Day is essential to retain luck. Unlike pre-cleaning on New Year's Eve, this belief holds that performing chores on the day could wash away or discard one's luck. This symbolic act aims to safeguard positive energy, ensuring a prosperous and fortunate start to the year by refraining from any cleaning activities on this special day.


Midnight kiss

kiss Pixabay

The New Year's Eve midnight kiss isn't just a tradition; it's a superstition believed to shape your love life for the year ahead. The person you kiss at midnight is said to determine the course of your romantic journey, with the shared affection influencing a lasting and positive connection throughout the upcoming year.


Run with your suitcase

suitcase Pixabay

Embrace a Colombian New Year tradition by running with an empty suitcase to invite adventure and travel into your life. This playful superstition suggests that even a brief jaunt around the block with an empty suitcase can symbolize a year filled with exciting journeys and new experiences. For travel enthusiasts, it's a whimsical way to manifest wanderlust and set the stage for a year of exploration in 2024.


Put cash into your wallet

Wallet Pixabay

Make sure you have cash in your wallet before midnight. People believe it brings prosperity for the whole year. This simple act is seen as a way to attract wealth. So, try putting cash in your wallet before the clock strikes twelve, and you might have a year of financial abundance.


Observe the weather

tree Pixabay

According to this superstition, the weather on New Year's Day sets the tone for the upcoming year. If the wind comes from the south, it signifies a prosperous year ahead. However, a north wind predicts bad weather. East winds are linked to calamities, while west winds suggest an abundance of milk and fish, but could also mean the loss of an important person. If there's no wind, the new year may bring joy and prosperity.


Avoid chicken and lobster

Lobster Pixabay

Some people believe eating chicken on New Year's Eve in the Philippines leads to poverty in the coming year. Lobster is also thought to bring setbacks. On the flip side, in Germany and Sweden, having fresh or pickled herring is considered lucky. In China, eating noodles on New Year's Eve symbolizes a wish for a long life. These food traditions blend culture with hopes for a prosperous and healthy year.


Avoid tears

Tears Pixabay

On New Year's Day, resisting tears is advised to avoid inviting a year of sadness. Whether the tears are joyous or not, this superstition suggests that crying on the first day of the year may set an unfortunate tone for the next 365 days.


Hang lemons

lemon Pixabay

An age-old tradition proposes hanging lemons on windows and door jambs on New Year's Eve to dispel negativity and welcome positive energy for the upcoming year. This superstition believes that the presence of lemons acts as a symbolic barrier against bad vibes, ensuring that only good energy enters the home.


Light all the candles

Candle Pixabay

New Year's Eve coincides with one of the darkest periods of the year, creating a cozy atmosphere. As darkness descends on Dec. 31, a delightful tradition involves lighting candles throughout the house, creating a warm and magical ambiance to welcome the new year. At the stroke of midnight, blowing out the candles symbolizes the conclusion of the old year and the dawn of a fresh beginning, adding a touch of ritualistic symbolism to the transition into the new year.


Eat collard greens

leafy greens
leafy greens Pixabay

Eating collard greens on New Year's Day is a tasty Southern tradition believed to bring lots of good things in the months ahead, like luck and prosperity.


Wearing multi-colored underwear

Underwear Pixabay

In South American countries like Mexico, Brazil, and Bolivia, a quirky New Year tradition involves wearing underwear of various colors, each representing a distinct fate. For instance, red symbolizes love, while white signifies peace. The choice of underwear color is believed to influence the aspects of life the coming year will bring. This colorful tradition adds a playful and symbolic touch to New Year celebrations.


108 rings

Bells Pixabay

In Japan, a renowned New Year tradition is the "108 Rings." Buddhist temples across the country organize this event, ringing the bell 108 times. The significance lies in the belief that each ring dispels negative emotions and ushers in positivity for the coming year. Rooted in Buddhist practices, the 108 Rings ritual is a symbolic and spiritual way to start the new year with an abundance of good vibes, creating an atmosphere of positivity and renewal.


Broken plates

broken plate
broken plate Pixabay

In Denmark, they have a fun tradition for New Year's where people break plates against their neighbors' doors. It's believed to bring good luck for the upcoming year. This unique custom is all about starting fresh and spreading positive vibes. By breaking plates together, it's like saying goodbye to the old and welcoming the new year with good feelings. It's a simple yet spirited way for neighbors to come together and wish each other a happy and lucky year ahead.


Clean off your debts

Debts Pixabay

Clearing off debts before the new year is like a secret recipe for financial good luck. It's believed that starting without any unpaid bills sets the stage for a year filled with money success. It's not just about the numbers; it's a smart move to make sure the upcoming months are smooth and prosperous. So, before the year ends, taking care of debts is like giving yourself a little financial boost for the year ahead.


Look out of your window

Window Pixabay

For single women, a charming New Year's superstition suggests that love might be just around the corner. The belief goes that if, on New Year's Day, you look out your bedroom window upon waking and spot a person passing by, it could be a sign that you'll be walking down the aisle before the year is through. It adds a touch of anticipation and romance to the start of the year, encouraging hopeful singles to keep an eye out for potential romantic surprises in the coming months. So, who knows, love might be just a glance away!


Eat soba noodles

Soba noodles
Soba noodles Pixabay

In Japan, there's a cool New Year's tradition: eating soba noodles at midnight. People believe it brings good things like prosperity and a long, healthy life. It's like a tasty way to start the new year with positive vibes. So, in Japan, slurping up soba noodles is not just about enjoying a yummy meal but also about wishing for a happy and long life as the clock ticks to a new year.


Open the doors at midnight

Open door
Open door Pixabay

In Ireland, there's a neat New Year's tradition: opening all the doors at midnight. It's like giving the old year a friendly exit and welcoming the new one in. Many folks swing their doors wide open, almost like guiding the old year on its way out. It's a simple and symbolic gesture, letting in the fresh air and positive vibes for the upcoming year. So, if you fancy a touch of Irish tradition, consider flinging your doors open at midnight for a warm welcome to the new year.


Eat pork

Pork Pixabay

Delving into New Year traditions, both Pennsylvania Dutch and Germans have a tasty belief – eating pork on New Year's Day brings a year of good luck. Their reasoning lies in the way pigs root around with their snouts pointing forward, symbolizing progress and positivity. Interestingly, Chinese culture also associates pork consumption with luck, good fortune, and honesty. So, as you savor a delicious pork dish on the first day of the year, you're not just enjoying a meal; you're embracing a flavorful tradition believed to invite prosperity and positivity for the next 12 months.


Practice mindfulness at midnight

Mindfulness Pixabay

Not all New Year's rituals involve food or props. Take a few moments of mindfulness as the old year ends. Close your eyes, absorb the ticking of the clock, and pay attention to your senses. What do you smell, taste, or hear? Be present in that moment as the clock strikes midnight, marking the transition to the new year.


Eat 12 Grapes at midnight

Grapes Pixabay

One delightful Spanish tradition we cherish is eating 12 grapes at midnight. As the clock nears midnight, each person gets 12 grapes. The challenge is to eat a grape with every chime of the clock, making it a fun and flavorful way to welcome the new year.


Keep a lucky charm handy

Lucky charm
Lucky charm Pixabay

Luck varies from person to person, so why not create your luck with a New Year's ritual? Choose a personal lucky charm -- it could be a button that fell off on New Year's Eve or a toy your cat brought you. Pick something small to carry for an extra touch of luck in your daily life.


Start a journal

Journal Pixabay

Capture the little moments that make you happy in a joy journal for a New Year's ritual. It can be a notebook, a blank book, or just use your phone's Notes app. Write down those special moments throughout the year. When the year ends, flip through your joy journal to relive the best memories and cherish the happy moments that made your year brighter. It's a simple and heartwarming way to remember the good times.


Leave something behind

Benches Pixabay

Start the new year with simple and special rituals. Light candles for a magical feel, serve round foods symbolizing continuity and practice mindfulness at midnight. Try the Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes for luck. Personalize luck with a chosen charm. Plan an adventure or learn something new. Make a wish for a loved one and symbolize fresh starts by leaving something behind in the past. These easy and meaningful traditions make the new year memorable.


Write a letter to someone you miss

Letter Pixabay

Make writing a heartfelt paper letter to someone you miss a New Year's tradition. Reach out to a friend, a college roommate, or a teacher who made a difference. You can even pen a letter to someone who has passed away. The key is expressing your emotions on paper. Whether you choose to send the letter or not is entirely up to you, adding a personal touch to this meaningful New Year's practice.


Make a wish for someone you love

Make a wish
Make a wish Pixabay

Instead of just crafting New Year's resolutions, consider making a wish for someone else. When the clock strikes midnight (or as you wake up on New Year's Day), take a moment to close your eyes and envision something wonderful for someone you care about. Whether you choose to share it with them or keep it to yourself is entirely up to you.


Don't loan out money

Money Pixabay

Consider avoiding lending money on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day as per this superstition. Doing so is believed to ward off potential financial challenges and ensure a positive financial outlook for the upcoming months.


Make a good toast

Raise a toast
Raise a toast Pixabay

Whether you're gathering friends for a New Year's Eve bash or hosting a cozy breakfast on New Year's Day, don't forget the toast! It's a special moment worth celebrating. Crafting a memorable New Year's toast is simple. Share something about the past year, acknowledge the present, and express a wish for the year ahead. It's a straightforward yet meaningful way to commemorate this milestone.


Throw furniture out of the window

Furniture Pixabay

In some places in South Africa and Italy, people have a cool New Year's tradition. They throw stuff out of their windows to let go of the old stuff and make room for good luck. It could be old dishes, clothes, or even furniture. But be careful -- make sure no one is underneath before you toss anything out!


Bang loaves of bread on the wall

Bread Pixabay

Bake an extra loaf of bread, for in Ireland, there's a charming belief that banging stale Christmas bread against your house's walls invites a year filled with abundance. It's a quirky yet heartwarming tradition, infusing a touch of prosperity into your festive season.

A touch of magic

The New Year traditions are like a sprinkle of magic that makes the new year more fun and meaningful. The whimsical superstitions indeed empower us to take a joyous journey ahead.

(This article has been updated; it was originally published in 2021.)