Language Insight loved finding out about Christmas around the world in its recent series of blogs, and now – with 2012 almost over – we’re finding out about New Year’s Eve customs across the globe.


There are just as many customs associated with the New Year as there are with Christmas – and some of them are quite unusual.

Perhaps the most well-known legend in the UK is that if the first guest to visit your house after midnight is a tall, dark-haired male, the year ahead will be filled with good luck. This person is known as a first-foot and is believed to bring good fortune with them. If you’re not expecting any good-looking strangers to drop by your house on New Year’s Eve, you could perform the role yourself – just make sure you leave your home before midnight in order to come back in, and not after.

Another custom concerns what you should wear to see in the New Year. While you may have spent weeks hunting for the perfect suit or party dress, you should aim to inject a few polka-dots into your outfit. There are some who believe that wearing spots will mean you enjoy increased wealth the following year.

This isn’t the only clothing custom at this time of year, and in Brazil people wear white to bring luck, while in Columbia they wear yellow underwear under their outfit for the same reason.

Now we know some of the most popular traditions associated with the occasion, let’s look at how New Year’s Eve is celebrated around the world.


If you’re in Mexico when you bid farewell to 2012, be sure to buy a bunch of grapes. Here, people are encouraged to eat a piece of the fruit every time the bell strikes midnight – and to make a wish on each one.


As we mentioned in our recent blog post, New Year’s Eve in Russia is a bigger celebration than Christmas. Indeed, this is when the children gather around to hold hands and call for Ded Moroz and Snegurochka – Father Frost and his granddaughter The Snowmaiden – to visit and bestow gifts on them.


Every New Year’s Eve in Germany, Dinner for One is broadcast. This is a comedy sketch written and first performed in the UK during the 1920s. However, the version that was filmed for German television audiences in 1963 proved such a hit that it has been broadcast in the country every New Year’s Eve since then.

The US

They don’t do things by half in the United States, and New Year’s Eve is no exception. The country celebrates in style and the most popular tradition is to watch the ball drop at Times Square. Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve is also on every year, although Clark’s death this year means that the 2012 show will be presented by American Idol host Ryan Seacrest.


New Year’s Eve in France is all about the food. The last day of the year is marked by a huge banquet known as Réveillon, which consists of the most gourmet dishes to be found anywhere in the world. You can expect to dine in style on oysters and foie gras, washed down with Champagne.


Before the Near Year celebrations can begin in Japan, the people get busy cleaning their homes. New Year’s Eve here is known as Ōmisoka and is an incredibly important occasion in the country as it is when the New Year’s god is welcomed. Once neat, houses are decorated with kadomatsu (a pine gateway) and Shimenawa (braided straw ropes).

The UK

New Year’s Eve in the UK wouldn’t be complete without linking hands with your loved ones once the bell has struck midnight and singing Auld Lang Syne. It is then customary to hug and kiss everyone around you to wish them well for the year ahead.

Whatever you’re doing for New Year’s Eve and wherever you’re spending it, Language Insight hopes you have a great time and wishes you all the best for 2013.