New Year’s Eve is a time to celebrate the ending of the old and the beginning of the new with friends and family throughout the world.
I’ve been lucky enough to spend a few New Year’s Eves in Europe, once in Spain and once in Germany, which just left me curious to find out about more celebration traditions across Europe.
¡Feliz Año Nuevo!
Let’s start with my all-time favorite European country (of course I’ve not been to all, but I think it will be difficult to steal my heart from Spain!). New Year’s celebrations in Spain include burning straw dolls in the street and eating 12 grapes at midnight. The heart of the Noche Vieja (New Year’s Eve) can be found at the Puerta del Sol in the center of Madrid. It’s totally packed by the time the famous bell tower chimes so get there early if you want a spot!
New Year’s traditions in my current home include leaving out a bit of food on the table after midnight to ensure plenty of food for the upcoming year, or falling molten lead in cold water, with the end shape being the basis for predictions made for the future of the person such as wedding, traveling or abundance of food, known as Bleigiessen. Berlin’s Brandenburger Tor is the heart of the German New Year’s Eve (known as Silvester), where thousands watch fireworks to celebrate.
Another one of my favorite European countries, especially the capital city of Amsterdam, is a great place to celebrate the coming year. One tradition is to eat a donut or something shaped like a ring to bring good fortune in the new year. Come New Year’s Even (known as Oudejaarsavond) people gather in the streets with the countdown taking place in the large grassy square in front of the Rijksmuseum. As well Nieuwmarkt and Dam Square are also great to visit, with the latter featuring live music from famous Dutch DJs.
One French New Year’s traditions is in the expected romantic fashion, where there is typically a large feast (which includes crepes, foie gras and champagne) with a formal ball or torchlight procession to pick grapes to follow. In the capital city of Paris, crowds gather along the Champs-Elysées with views of the Eiffel Tower’s midnight lights.
Some Italian New Year’s traditions include wearing red underwear or throwing old clothes out the window to ring in the New Year. In the capital city of Rome on New Year’s Eve (San Silvestro) people gather to the piazza del Popolo to see a free concert and fireworks display.
What are your favorite New Year’s traditions?