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NEW YEAR'S EVE | 5 Unique Traditions Around The World

30th December 2022


Ahhh New Year’s Eve. A time for hope and optimism, where we aspire to become better versions of ourselves as soon as the clock strikes twelve. It’s a big reset that’s celebrated globally, and we’ve picked out our Top 5 favourite New Year’s traditions around the world.

#1 SCOTLAND | Hogmanay “First Footing”


Want a tall, dark and handsome Scotsman to turn up to your party and shower you in gifts? You might be interested in the Scottish tradition of first footing.

New Year’s Eve is a day so important in Scotland that it has its own name: Hogmanay. It’s known for bonfires, street parties, merrymaking and more, but most famously for the tradition of first footing– which stems from the Gaelic practice of qualtagh.

Basically, if a dark-haired stranger bringing gifts (shortbread, whiskey, a coin, salt and coal to symbolise nourishment, warmth, prosperity and good cheer) is the first person to set foot in your household, it’ll bring luck for the year ahead!

The first footer should be someone not already in the house at the stroke of midnight, and so the Scottish have one guest leave the party just before the bell tolls. He knocks on the door bearing symbolic gifts, and crosses the threshold as New Year begins. This lucky first-footer should also be a man, with dark hair, and not a doctor or any other profession associated with disease or death – otherwise, the luck might turn sour.


Don’t forget! If you want to attend any Hogmanay celebrations in Scotland, you’ll need travel money! Scotland accepts both the Great British Pound (GBP) and the Scottish Pound (SCO), but we recommend taking the Great British Pound as it’s used more widely in the UK.

#2 BRAZIL | Seven Waves for Seven Wishes


No one parties quite like Brazilians, and New Year’s is a spiritual festival to remember.

The masses flock to the beach for New Years eve – with picnics and barbecues filled with dancing, singing, sparkling wine, and of course, Brazil’s potent sugar cane drink cachaca.

Most importantly, Brazilians take with them an offering for Iemanjá (also known as Lemanjá or Yemanjá) – the Afro-Brazilian goddess of the sea. Iemanjá is often depicted as a mermaid, and is not only protector of seas and fishermen, but also of womanhood, fertility, and family.

To honour her and bring good luck for the year ahead, people give her offerings of white flowers; gifts associated with beauty such as perfumes, jewellery, mirrors, and combs; statuettes; as well as white foods such as sweet rice and coconut pudding.

Then, there’s a special tradition of jumping seven waves in her honour.

It is said that if you jump seven waves at midnight of New Year’s, you will be spiritually purified and have the strength to overcome any hurdle in the coming year. With each wave you jump, you must make a wish or thank Iemanjá for something you’re grateful for in your current year, and then make sure not to turn your back to the ocean until your feet are out of the water.

Traditionally, everyone wears white, but also wear brand new underwear in a particularly auspicious colour symbolise the type of luck they want to bring in for the new year. It can be red for love and passion, yellow for prosperity, green for hope and health, pink for love, blue for serenity and friendship, purple for spiritual connection, or black for independence.


Planning on celebrating New Year’s with the Brazilians? You’ll need Brazilian Reals (BRL). The Brazilian Real (BRL) is also sometimes used in neighbouring Uruguay and Paraguay, so will also come in handy if you’re going on a South American tour!

#3 SPAIN | 12 Lucky Grapes


Continuing with the tradition of colourful underwear… in Spain, it’s considered lucky to wear red underwear on New Year's Eve. However, it’s even luckier if they’re given to you by someone else.

Then, at the stroke of midnight, everyone gathers around the TV to watch the New Year’s broadcast, or head to the town square where there’s a large clock (most famously the clock in Puerta del Sol Square).

There are twelve bell chimes to consume twelve green grapes – these days it doesn’t have to be any particular variety as long as it’s green – and if you eat them all in time it’s said to bring good luck for the next 12 months!

Of course, it’s followed by partying, dancing, music, confetti, cava (Spanish sparkling wine)… and maybe some hot chocolate and churros.


You’ll be needing Euros (EUR) to pay for your twelve grapes and twelve hundred churros you’ll be devouring on your travels around Spain.

#4 JAPAN | Soba Noodles and Shrines


Rather than a ‘party atmosphere,’ New Year celebrations in Japan are steeped in ritual, tradition, and spirituality.

The rituals start in early December. It’s Japanese tradition to meticulously clean every area of the home so that it’s purified and ready for Toshigami (the Shinto New Year deity) to enter.

Once New Year’s Eve rolls around, the family gathers to eat toshikoshi soba – year crossing noodles – which is a special dish of extra-long buckwheat noodles symbolising long life, strength, and resilience.

Just before midnight, Buddhist temples will ring a bell 108 times to cleanse everyone of the 108 worldly desires, so they’re purified for the New Year.

Then, many people watch the first sunrise of the year (hatsuhinode) – when Toshigami arrives. It’s also customary to have the sweet, warm sake drink known as amazake (some shrines will be handing this out at midnight!).

The first few days of the New Year is dedicated to hatsumode – the first shrine visit of the year – and many will buy good luck charms such as daruma dolls, and omikuji. These are often decorated with the zodiac animal of the year – in 2023, it will be the Year of the Rabbit.

And one final tradition we have to mention is otoshidama – a special envelope filled with money – that children are gifted by their older relatives. It’s a gift for the coming year, and usually averages around 50,000 Yen (around $50 to $60 AUD).


If you’re heading to Japan in the New Year, you’ll need Japanese Yen (JPY)!

Japan is very cash-centric, so you’ll be wanting notes to take care of all your day-to-day spending (restaurants, shrine and temple visits, etc.), but we also recommend also taking a travel money card for all your bigger purchases (hotel stays, ski passes, etc.).

#5 DENMARK | Smashing Plates


… It’s kind of like a festive rage room?

The Danish really send off the old year in spectacular fashion – throwing old plates, dishes and glasses at the homes of friends and neighbours. In fact, the more broken kitchenware on your doorstep, the luckier you’ll be in the New Year!

It’s a Danish tradition that leaves aggression, ill-will and general bad vibes behind to start fresh in the New Year; said to banish and ward off bad spirits.

Then, at midnight, everyone stands on chairs and takes a “leap” into January for good luck.


Heading to the land of Hygge, Vikings, and the iconic Danish Pastry? You’ll need some Danish Krones (DKK) to get you through your travels – we recommending taking both some Danish Krones in cash, but also a travel card (loaded in AUD or EUR), as Denmark is card-dominant. Chat with your local travel fxpert at a Travel Money Oz store for tailored advice according to your needs!

Wherever you’ll be celebrating the New Year, we’ve got your travel money sorted.


Come and see us in store and chat with our experts for tailored advice, or if you prefer, check out our online currency guides and blogs.

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This blog is provided for information only and does not take into consideration your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider whether the information and suggestions contained in any blog entry are appropriate for you, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs. While we take reasonable care in providing the blog, we give no warranties or representations that it is complete or accurate, or is appropriate for you. We are not liable for any loss caused, whether due to negligence or otherwise, arising from the use of, or reliance on, the information and/or suggestions contained in this blog.

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