European New Year’s Eve Celebrations

 In all parts of Europe, you will find celebrations to welcome in the new year. Each country celebrates in a slightly different way but in the capital cities of Europe you will usually find eating, drinking and fireworks or laser shows! However, there are a few different New Year’s Eve traditions which are fun to experience

European New Year’s Eve Celebrations


Nochevieja (old night) in Spain is marked by the eating of grapes. As midnight approaches, Spanish sparkling wine (Cava) is distributed along with 12 green grapes per person. For each strike of the midnight hour, you must eat a grape to ensure good luck for the following year. Unless you can chew very fast, this is quite difficult especially while holding a glass of Cava.

The eating of grapes is also customary in Portugal.


In Scotland, New Year’s Eve is called Hogmanay and is a huge celebration warranting two days off afterwards. The particularly Scottish tradition is First Footing, whereby the first visitor to the home after midnight is a tall dark man bearing coal, salt, bread, money and Scotch whisky, each representing good fortune. Often the First Footer is a dinner guest at the house but he will be banished outside the front door before midnight.

The singing of Auld Lang Syne, written by Scottish poet Robert Burns and set to the music of a traditional folk song is also a must to see in the New Year in Scotland. The rest of the UK also sings Auld Lang Syne as do many other English speaking countries throughout the world.


The most bizarre New Year’s Eve tradition in Germany is watching a British 1960s comedy sketch on TV. It is entitled “Dinner for One” and features Miss Sophie celebrating her 90th birthday attended by her butler who serves copious quantities of alcohol to the imaginary guests (Miss Sophie’s deceased friends) and then proceeds to drink most of it himself.


The Danes collect broken plates throughout the year and then smash them further against the front doors of their friends on New Year’s Eve. The more broken china you have on your doorstep the more popular you are.


In Italy on ‘San Silvestro’ clothes, pots and pans are thrown out of the window to symbolise letting go of the past.


Some parts of France celebrate New Year’s Eve by picking grapes.

These are just a few examples of traditional celebrations in Europe; most countries drink their local sparkling wine and many wear red underwear to bring good luck.

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