New Years in Portugal

New Year’s Celebrations, Traditions, and Customs Across Europe

Since the beginning of time, humans have always found ways to celebrate wondrous events. From celebrating a new birth or paying homage to a saint, it all comes back to creating traditions. This week, we cover New Year’s Celebration and Traditions Across Europe and the influence it plays in modern society.

New Year’s Origin in Europe

Roman Gregorian calendar that began the tradition of New Year’s in Europe.
Roman Gregorian calendar that began the tradition of New Year’s in Europe. Image Source: (pinimg.com)

New Year’s in Europe finds its roots back to the great ancient Rome. During this era, there came a taxation period that became known as the “Indiction”.

Moreover, the churches at the time established the marking of the new year on September 1st which aligns with “Indiction”. It may seem confusing as the official Roman New Year’s Day was celebrated on January 1st in the Gregorian Calendar.

Nonetheless, the Gregorian calendar at the time became used for counting the time of rule for emperors. As time passes, the September 1st observation of New Year’s becomes prevalent for a couple of centuries in Europe.

Interestingly, as Rome falls, eastern and western territories begin to vary in tradition. For example, the Roman Catholic Church continues to observe New Year’s on the Gregorian Calendar being January 1st.

Likewise, the Orthodox Church falls on later times being January 14th. In essence, this created tradition.

Modern-Day New Year’s Celebrations in Europe

Plaza in Spain during New Year’s Eve.
Plaza in Spain during New Year’s Eve. Image Source: (travelhouseuk.co.uk)

In modern times, most of Europe now follows the ancient celebration of New Year’s on January 1st. This is a fun time to unwind, recognize, and spend time with others by celebrating successes and challenges overcome.

It could also serve as a hopeful new path for others to begin anew and better themselves. Regardless, New Year’s in Europe is beautiful because there are so many variations of the holiday celebrated in the continent.

The holiday is one of the most treasured in the continent after Christmas. It also aligns with other sub-holidays in certain countries.

For example, in Spain, there is the celebration of Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos (Three Kings’ Parade). This occurs from January 5th-6th and serves as a final marker of the holiday season in the country.

As we delve further into this article, we will see exciting examples of different countries and cultures’ versions of festivity.

Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal during New Year’s holiday season.
Lisbon, Portugal during New Year’s holiday season. Image Source: (traveltriangle.com)

Portugal, the land of mystery and old-world charm shares some whimsical and memorable traditions in New Year’s. Noite Mágica “Magic Night” is the name of the celebration observed in the land.

 

People celebrate by eating as many raisins as possible while watching the clock countdown to midnight for good luck. To add, some foods also made in this period are Bolo-Rei (Kings Cake) and Bacalhau com Batatas (Codfish with Potatoes).

 

Some traditions vary from having Janeiros caroling at people’s homes, keeping money in pocket for good wealth, and creating noise. To further elude, hitting pots and pans violently in Portugal New Year’s roots to fending off wicked spirits and negative energies.

Another is the tradition of putting your foot down first from a chair which symbolizes positivity for the new year. Of course, there is also the classic fireworks display where everyone in town can witness the event with exhilaration.

In all, Portugal provides an interesting and fun edition of New Year’s celebration in Europe.

France

Torch Mass in Southwestern France celebrating New Year’s tradition and customs.
Torch Mass in Southwestern France celebrating New Year’s tradition and customs. Image Source: (greatdays.co.uk)

Known for its charismatic beauty and breathtaking aesthetics, France also shares some quirky New Year’s traditions. In the country, the French celebrate the holiday by attending an evening mass which is a torchlight walk.

To add, they also host a late-night grape harvest. This usually takes place in the southwest portion of the country.

In other regions, family members give money to children in an event named “Les étrennes” (New Year’s Tip). This is a strong tradition that is taken seriously because many elders provide wisdom to young ones in the family.

Sometimes it may not always be children that receive money though as you can find guards becoming rewarded. Usually, service workers are recognized and shown appreciation for the past year’s work by receiving tips.

The “Nouvel An” (New Year) in France is a charitable and crucial time to show love and appreciation to others. In turn, New Year’s in France represents matters of the heart in Europe.

Iceland

Entrée of various food available in Iceland during New Year’s celebration
Entrée of various food available in Iceland during New Year’s celebration. Image Source: (warrennash.co.uk)

A true mythical gem and historic territory, Iceland equally celebrates New Year’s in style. The celebrations in the country begin at 6 pm in the Cathedral of the capital Reykjavík.

Many Icelanders start their festivities by listening to the radio broadcast of the cathedral mass in the capital’s cathedral. Furthermore, a tradition followed is watching the “Áramótaskaupið” (New Year’s Comedy) which plays a crucial role for family gatherings.

The show mainly focuses on overviewing the events of the year and poking fun at politicians and other celebrities. From there the show ends before the clock turns to twelve where Icelanders then shoot fireworks out in the sky.

When it comes to food in Iceland New Year’s celebrations, the main courses consisted of a shrimp or lobster cocktail. The next is roasting turkey with potatoes and enjoying homemade ice cream.

All in all, New Year’s celebration in Iceland creates a cozy and interactive experience in Europe.

Norway

A Norwegian dessert prepared during New Year’s celebration.
A Norwegian dessert prepared during New Year’s celebration. Image Source: (houstonpress.com)

A country full of wonder, obscurity, and epic history, Norway emulates some warming New Year’s traditions. To begin, one important tradition is participating in eating rice pudding. This is crucial because there is an almond implanted into one bowl.

Next, whoever finds the almond is believed to gain good fortune for the new year. Another tradition is having everyone in a home wishing each other a happy new year and thanking them for good times in the past.

During the time the clock strikes twelve, the king of Norway also gives a speech to everyone. This is held in high regard as it symbolizes unity.

Interestingly, Norwegian’s also do not promote sleeping in within the next day. It is believed that sleeping more rids away luck, so this makes them stand out from their fellow European siblings.

Overall, Norway’s New Year’s celebration brings another notable edition of the holiday tradition in Europe.

Ireland

Irish home during New Year’s where inhabitant hit walls to fend off negative energies
Irish home during New Year’s where inhabitant hit walls to fend off negative energies. Image Source: (dundalkdemocrat.ie)

In a land filled with magic, natural beauty, and myth, Ireland equally celebrates New Year’s from a unique perspective. Some fun traditions that are experienced in Ireland are having people hitting walls around their homes with Christmas bread.

This is believed to push out bad luck and other negative auras while inviting new positive ones in. Indeed, Ireland is one of the most superstitious countries on our list when it comes to New Year’s in Europe.

Another tradition that takes place is a form of divination by watching where the direction of the wind blows. If the wind moves westward, then there are good chances of luck.

On the other hand, if it moves eastward, then their English counterparts will receive a better fortune. The celebration in this country provides humor yet concern. Overall, this creates another exclusive and intimate version of the holiday in Europe.

Finland

Molten Tin figures from Finnish New Year’s traditions
Molten Tin figures from Finnish New Year’s traditions. Image Source: (spectralhues.com)

Finland, a territory full of rich history and motivating qualities. Finns celebrate New Year’s comfortably and interactively.

From participating in the art of prediction, reflecting, and cooking good food, they equally celebrate New Year’s in fashion. There is a longtime Finnish tradition that gives insight to the future by casting molten tin in bottled water.

From there Finns interpret the message by the shape that becomes placed in the bottle. This serves as a purpose to predict people’s health, happiness, and wealth.

For example, a heart or ring shape signified oncoming love and a wedding for the New Year. To add, a boat signifies travel, and the last is a pig shape illustrating possessing plentiful food.

Some dishes that are served during New Year’s in Finland is Smörgåsbord. The meaning of the word means a large buffet of plates available to eat.

The foods range from appetizers, desserts, main entries, and everything you can imagine. In all, Finland provides great festive traditions in the celebration of New Year’s in Europe.

Denmark

Broken plates left in a Danish home. Another unique New Year’s tradition in Europe.
Broken plates left in a Danish home. Another unique New Year’s tradition in Europe. Image Source: (hearstapps.com)

In the small yet mighty kingdom of Denmark, the Danes also celebrate New Year’s with a bang. During New Year’s celebration, Danes like to smash plates on their friends and close one’s porch to show appreciation.

In some funny way, it becomes a staple of someone’s popularity/status as it signifies how loved you are. Another interesting tradition observed in Denmark is people standing on a chair and leaping off once the clock strikes twelve.

This custom becomes crucial because it represents letting go of old negativity and clearing a new way for positive energies. Another important tradition in Denmark is people watching the Queens New Year speech while eating with friends and family.

One interesting thing about New Year’s celebration in Denmark is that fireworks are set off at sunset and midnight. This is one highlight to Denmark because its other counterparts in Europe ignite fireworks after the clock strikes twelve.

In summary, Denmark plays a one-of-a-kind experience for New Year’s celebration in Europe.

Netherlands

Nieuwiaarsduik plunge even in the Netherlands. A New Year’s staple in Dutch culture.
Nieuwiaarsduik plunge even in the Netherlands. A New Year’s staple in Dutch culture. Image Source: (lovethesepics.com)

New Year’s Celebration in the Netherlands boasts of some of the most thrilling experiences to participate in. The event of Nieuwjaarsduik (Polar Bear Plunge) plays a large role in New Year’s Celebration in the country.

 

It gathers large numbers as the locations change throughout the country. The event requires people to dive into the frosty sea and lakes which many oblige to.

 

It serves as a final adrenaline rush to release before the new year begins. The winner who prevails staying in freezing water longest becomes rewarded with a warm traditional soup and smoked sausage.

Some foods that are served during New Year’s in The Netherlands are Duivekater, Appelbeignets, and Ertwensoep (Split pea soup). Dutch individuals are vocal when it comes to celebrating New Year’s as there are many residents igniting fireworks.

Followed by them screaming in joy and wishing each other a happy new year. To sum up, New Year’s celebration in the Netherlands serves as a prime example in Europe.

Luxembourg

Cute illustration of Marzipan given during New Year’s celebration in Luxembourg
Cute illustration of Marzipan given during New Year’s celebration in Luxembourg. Image Source: (tripsavvy.com)

In the quiet country of Luxembourg, the inhabitants celebrate in an orderly fashion that emulates old traditions. With a history of farming being prevalent in the land, meats and other simple foods become traditional cuisine.

Some foods served range from ham, sausage, cheesepâté, and fish. To add, other traditions that are followed in Luxembourgish New Year’s celebrations are Chimney Sweeps.

This act serves as a symbolic way to clear away grime and welcome good luck. Another is giving good luck charms in the form of a Marzipan (German dessert).

New Year’s celebrations in Luxembourg are more relaxed than their Dutch neighbors in terms of tradition. For this reason, Luxembourg becomes special in emulating New Year’s Celebration.

To illustrate, one tradition is the “Winter lights” festival which illuminates the downtown of the capital with spectacular views. The next is the Esch Sur Alzette (Christmas Market) that promotes the holidays in an exciting light.

As shown above, Luxembourg makes a fine edition in New Year’s celebration throughout Europe.

Poland

Interesting illustration of Kulig (Sleigh rides) taking place during New Year’s in Poland.
Interesting illustration of Kulig (Sleigh rides) taking place during New Year’s in Poland. Image Source: (bp.blogspot.com)

In the stoic country of Poland, New Year’s celebrations are celebrated in a regal and captivating manner. Sylwester (New Year’s) in Poland marks the beginning of a carnival period consisting of events like balls and parties.

The traditions that are followed in modern Poland derive from the past aristocracy. They began traditions like Kulig (Sleigh rides) that are now widely emulated through the country.

The purpose of the sleighs was to bring food and provide entertainment with folk dances. The tradition also promotes charity, comfort, and appearing in style.

One other funny and whimsical tradition followed in Poland is keeping a small part of Carp fish in your pocket. As strange as it sounds, it becomes widely followed because many Poles believe that it provides good luck financially.

The last tradition is paying off debts. Whether financially or other, many Poles like to release old setbacks by returning borrowed items or repaying a favor.

In all, Poland serves another compelling edition to New Year’s Celebration in Europe.

Romania

Romanian practice taking place with farmers attempting to communicate with their animals during New Year’s.
Romanian practice taking place with farmers attempting to communicate with their animals during New Year’s. Image Source: (topteny.com)

Romanian practice taking place with farmers attempting to communicate with their animals during New Year’s. Image Source: (topteny.com)

Romania, a country surrounded by dark allure and mystic beauty also celebrates New Year’s in an unparallel fashion. In the “Anu Nou” (New Year), many Romanians host a tradition of farmers trying to hear their animals talk.

It sounds strange but plays a large role in Romanian culture as being successful brings good luck. Superstitions for New Year’s in Romania make inhabitants believe that on that day, animals gain the ability to speak.

Plus, if you can clearly understand the dialogue, you become marked for bad luck. All in all, New Year’s in Romania provides some interesting customs and traditions to follow.

Indeed, it becomes an unparallel factor in contrast to other celebrations throughout Europe.

Significance of New Year’s Celebrations and Traditions in Europe

New Year’s fireworks display in Portugal.
New Year’s fireworks display in Portugal. Image Source: (drinkteatravel.com)

In conclusion, from ancient roots, customs, and celebrations, New Year’s in Europe becomes unique in its representation of cultures. This serves as a thrilling time to celebrate and commence the start of a new era.

Indeed, the observation varies by territory, but the objective persists which is celebrating life and progression. It is something to be cherished because you carry on centuries to a millennia-old tradition that lives on.

Regardless, New Year’s as a holiday becomes a favorite for many as it is a chance to make things better from a new perspective.

Works Cited

New Year’s Eve traditions and superstitions in Poland – Customs – Careers in Poland

Dutch New Year (Oud en Nieuw) Traditions and Foods (thespruceeats.com)

Smörgåsbord (dlc.fi)

New Year’s Festival Dublin | Ireland.com

Portuguese New Year Traditions (pocketcultures.com)

Celebrating New Years Eve 2022 in Luxembourg (newyearseveblog.com)

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