How New Year's Eve is celebrated around the world

LEAP OF FAITH: What might seem an absurd way to spend New Year's Eve is perfectly normal in other countries; people in Denmark jump from great heights, Spaniards tuck into 12 grapes, and the Greeks gamble the night away.
LEAP OF FAITH: What might seem an absurd way to spend New Year's Eve is perfectly normal in other countries; people in Denmark jump from great heights, Spaniards tuck into 12 grapes, and the Greeks gamble the night away.

New Year’s Eve in Australia is synonymous with relaxed gatherings with family or friends and staying up ‘til midnight to watch a fireworks display, either live or on the telly. They also generally involve a barbecue, some bubbly, and an esky or two hiding in the corner. 

It’s how December 31 has been celebrated for generations and suits our laidback lifestyle, but have you ever wondered how other cultures ring in the new year? Here’s just a sample of how people in other countries will countdown to 2019.

Denmark. The Danes stand on the highest surface they can find and literally jump into the new year at the stroke of midnight, leaving behind any bad luck and leaping into new beginnings.

The Danes stand on the highest surface they can find and literally jump into the new year at the stroke of midnight

Scotland. Bonfire ceremonies are a popular New Year’s Eve event, the Scots swinging huge fireballs over their heads to supposedly purify the coming year.

Finland. Dropping molten tin into cold water is a New Year’s Eve tradition in Finland. The shape in which it sets is meant to represent what the new year has in store – for example, something resembling a heart might allude to a new romance.

Spain. As the clock strikes midnight, many Spaniards can be found tucking into 12 grapes, which symbolise the 12 months of the year. The tradition is to eat one at a time, with those who manage to do this within the first 12 seconds of the new year guaranteed an entire year filled with good luck.

Philippines. Many Filipinos display and eat 12 round fruits on New Year’s Eve, the shape symbolising coins and therefore the hope of a prosperous coming year. As well as dining tables laden with grapes and melons, some people also dress in polka dots – perfectly timed at the moment, given they’re enjoying a resurgence.

Japan. People slurp on Toshikoshi Soba noodles on New Year’s Eve, trying not to break the long noodles as they eat them, to represent a long, healthy life. Another new year’s custom among Japanese families is “otoshidama”, the gifting of money to children, often in a small, purpose-made envelope.

Greece. When the new year rolls around in Greece, Greeks can often be found rolling dice or dealing cards. That’s because gambling is the activity of choice during the wee hours of December 31, in the hope of seeing in the new year with happiness and good luck.