Eight European ways to celebrate the New Year

18 December 2018

The Mayor’s New Year’s Eve Fireworks tickets have now sold out, but there’s still a world of great ways to celebrate. Discover eight New Year’s Eve traditions from across Europe, and share your festivities with us using #LondonIsOpen

1. The Spanish like to gather in town squares to celebrate ‘the old night’ (La Nochevieja) When the clock strikes midnight, they must eat twelve grapes, one at each toll of the bell. Only then are they allowed to shout “Feliz Año Nuevo!” (Happy New Year!), before the party begins. 

2. In Poland one tradition is to begin the New Year free of debt. Encouraging friends and family to pay back any cash they owe, means starting the New Year free of money worries.

3. Over in Denmark, one New Year’s Eve custom is to scramble to the highest viewing point (typically the sofa) and leap off it into the New Year. Apparently, it’s a way to overcome challenges for the year ahead! 

4. Across the Channel, the French tradition of ‘étrennes’ (a New Year’s gift) can be traced back to Roman times. Today it’s common in France to give money to workers such as refuse collectors, concierges and postal workers. Children may write ‘vœux‘, a card wishing their grandparents good luck for the New Year. In return, they get a small gift or pocket money by way of thanks. 

5. If you’re feeling (very) superstitious on New Year’s Eve, here’s some inspiration from Italy. Customs include wearing red underwear to bring good luck and fertility. Alternatively, you could throw pots, pans and clothes out of the window to let go of the past and move towards the future. Guess it depends what mood you’re in! 

6. The Greeks also have a smashing way to celebrate, by throwing pomegranates against front doors. The more seeds on the ground, the luckier the year ahead will be. 

7. In Germany it is customary to give marzipan pigs as lucky charms for the coming year.

8. Finally, the Dutch enjoy Oliebollen (deep-fried dough balls covered in powdered sugar) at midnight on New Year’s Eve. The following day they work off all those excess calories with a quick dip in the freezing North Sea. Called the ‘New Year’s Dive’, the swim takes place at over 130 locations across the country, the biggest at the seaside town Scheveningen! 

If you’re staying in, don’t forget the fireworks will be shown live on BBC1. This year’s spectacular display will celebrate our relationship with Europe and show the world that #LondonIsOpen.

If you’d rather go out, there are loads of other great ways you can celebrate. See Visit London for some fabulous ideas, and check travel before you go.

Whatever you do to celebrate, have a fantastic night!

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