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28 Dec. 2023

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How Europe celebrates the New Year: the most interesting traditions from different countries

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How Europe celebrates the New Year: the most interesting traditions from different countries

In Ukraine, New Year symbolizes a feast with the family and presents from Santa Claus. However, in some countries the customs are quite different. Find out what New Year's Eve traditions are practiced in the northern, western, central and southern parts of Europe

Take out insurance for a safe stay abroad during the winter holidays
Take out insurance for a safe stay abroad during the winter holidays
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New Year holidays in Europe are not only the transition from the old year to the new, but also the magic of traditions that make this period special in each country. We tell you what makes New Year celebrations in European countries memorable.


Initially, let's go to the northern edge of Europe, to Scandinavia, where New Year's Eve is welcomed especially warmly and cosily.


Sweden: family traditions and lights over the cities


In Sweden, New Year's Eve is a time for family reunion. On the evening of 31 December, families get together to have a delicious dinner and enjoy each other's company. 


However, what makes it special are the so-called "New Year's Eve parties". These are events where thousands of people gather. Hearths are lit in parks and fireworks rise over the cities, creating a magical atmosphere in the last minutes of the old year.


Also among the interesting traditions in Sweden is the loud celebration. For example, since 1893, when Swedes started celebrating New Year's Eve at the Skansen Museum in Stockholm, at midnight all churches in the country celebrate New Year's Eve by ringing bells.


If you have to celebrate New Year's Eve in Sweden, don't forget to learn a short verse from A. Tennyson's New Year's Eve Clock. It is his poem that Swedish people recite when they receive their New Year presents.


Norway: not Father Christmas, but Julenissen 


Norway is one of the most attractive countries in northern Europe. Winter in this country reminds you of a fairy-tale cartoon from your childhood. 


In Norway during New Year holidays it is also customary to spend time around the family table. Fireplace is often melted in houses, stuffed turkey and pudding with almonds and rice are served on the table. Almond nuts in Norway are considered a symbol of happiness and prosperity.


As for traditions, Norwegian customs are somewhat different from other European countries. For example, Christmas presents are brought to Norwegians not by Father Christmas, but by a kind gnome Julenissen. 


Also on New Year's Eve, Norwegians go to church to welcome the coming year with a blessing. The King of Norway traditionally makes a festive speech in front of his people.


By the way, Norwegians also have a tradition - to put at home New Year's gnomes Nisse. This is an unusual character that lives in a variety of places, from a dense Norwegian forest to a cosy corner in the house. It is believed that Nisse brings good luck and prosperity.


How is New Year's Eve celebrated in the central and southern parts of Europe? Let's get to the bottom of it.


Germany: champagne and sparkling lights


In Germany, the traditional New Year's Eve table is also full of various treats, but champagne glasses take centre stage. All members of the family gather together in a circle of friends to have fun. 


The main event is the fireworks display at midnight. The tables are filled with lights and candles, creating an amazing glow in the last moments of the passing year.


Germans celebrate New Year's Eve with noise, as they believe it helps to rape evil spirits. In addition, in Germany, 31 December is called Silvester, after Pope Sylvester I, who died on 31 December 335.


On this evening, Germans wish "a good entry into the new year", and at midnight, clinking champagne, shouting "May everything succeed in the new year".


Italy: the fairy Befana and throwing things out of windows


In Italy, New Year's Eve begins with a lavish dinner consisting of 12 courses symbolising each month of the year. At midnight when the chimes strike, bottles of sparkling wine are opened and the lampion extravaganza begins. 


There is also no Santa in this country, instead there is Babbo Natale. As legend has it, he is a distant relative of St Nicholas originally from Turkey.


Interestingly, the presents on New Year's Eve are brought not by him, but by the good fairy Befana, who leaves them in stockings hung by the fireplace. Often Italians say that naughty children may find ashes or coal instead of presents.


Another of the popular traditions in Italy on New Year's Eve is throwing old things out of windows. In this way, the country's inhabitants don't take everything superfluous and unnecessary with them into the next year, so that something better will appear instead.




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Spain: 12 grapes and dancing to the guitar


In Spain, New Year's Eve is celebrated in a particularly extravagant way. One of the most famous customs is to eat 12 grapes in the last 12 seconds of the old year, which symbolises good luck for each month. Then the noisy and merry time begins - festive parties, magic lights and lots of dancing to Spanish guitar.


In many communities, residents gather in a square or some popular place with a clock to eat grapes and spend the last minutes of the passing year together. If you would like to take part in this event.


France: Père Noël on a donkey


One of the most popular traditions for New Year's Eve in France is the burning of a Christmas log, which is specially made for Christmas and kept at home until New Year's Eve. They also have fun with raffles, putting on hats and sprinkling candy on each other.


In France, our Father Christmas is replaced by Père Noel, who travels not on reindeer but on a donkey. He puts presents in his boots by the fireplace.


As for food traditions, the French prefer to see on the New Year's table foie gras, roast turkey or goose, blood sausages, beans, chestnuts, beans, lobster, lobster and wild meat.


Britain: kissing under Big Ben 


The British, like many people in Europe, know how to celebrate New Year's Eve and have their own traditions. At the same time in Britain it is not customary to give expensive and large New Year gifts, as the holiday is considered to be just a continuation of Christmas.


On the table of the British on New Year's Eve you can often see apple pie, oat cakes of round shape with a hole in the middle, pudding, cheese kebben, and from hot dishes - roast goose, steaks.


One of the most famous traditions in Britain is the kiss of a couple in love at Big Ben under the chimes. The British believe that this will ensure a strong relationship in the new year.


In addition, it is customary in British homes to open the back door of the house when the clock strikes midnight, and the front door with the last strike of the chimes. In this way, they let the Old Year out and let the New Year in.


Getting ready to celebrate New Year's Eve abroad? Don't forget to ensure your safety! On our website you can buy travel insurance, Green Card insurance policy for your car, as well as bus, train and plane tickets to/from Ukraine and between cities around the world.

We remind you! Winter and winter holidays are always associated with spending time with family. In Europe, Christmas and New Year are among the main holidays that citizens spend at home. Therefore, most retail outlets are not open on these days. Here you can find out what days are on holidays in shops and supermarkets in Europe this winter season.



Want to know more? Read the latest news and useful materials about Ukraine and the world in the News section.




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