If there is something special about each country, it’s the traditions. Especially when welcoming the New Year, each country has its own way of doing it. New Year’s traditions are a celebration of each destination’s roots. The earliest festivity recorded that recalls the welcoming of the New Year goes back to the ancient Babylon, where they celebrated it with a festival called Akitu, that honored the rebirth of the “natural world”. 

Nowadays, each country has its own tradition. From cooking a special meal for family and friends, to hanging good-luck charms in your house, here you have a curated list on how different Olala Homes’ destinations celebrate New Year’s.  


1. Spain: The 12 grapes tradition

Spain has a great way to honor each month of the New Year to come. After the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s, Spaniards eat one grape per second during the first twelve seconds of the new year. The twelve grapes represent the twelve months of the year, and each one means the good luck and fortune to come on each month. 

This tradition is believed to have originated in the south of Spain during the 20th century, where the winemakers worked to boost demand for grapes in the winter. Nowadays it’s so popular that there are people that prepare the grapes beforehand for them to be peeled and easy to swallow at midnight. 

2. Portugal: The 12 raisins tradition

Similar to the tradition that takes place in Spain, Portuguese people eat a raisin each second in the first 12 seconds of the new year. As the Spanish believe, each raisin represents one month of the new year to come, and eating them when the clock strikes midnight is believed to bring good luck and fortune. 

It’s believed that while you eat each one of them, you’re supposed to make a wish each time. This tradition is so popular that even if you are spending your New Year’s Eve at a restaurant in Portugal, the staff will probably hand you a plate with 12 raisins for you to eat when the new year arrives. 

3. Greece: Hang your onions!

For many years Greek culture has associated food with the idea of prosperity. On New Year’s, Greeks believed that onions can be a sign of improvement and evolution. That is why many people in Greece will hang an onion next to their entrance door to welcome the new year. It’s believed that onions are a symbol of rebirth and growth. Also, on New Year’s Day, parents usually wake children up by tapping them on the head with the onion they previously hung on the door. 

Another famous Greek tradition is eating Vasilopita (or Saint Basil’s cake) on New Year’s. This cake is baked with a silver or gold coin inside, and whoever finds the coin in their slice is considered to have good luck in the coming year. 

4. Romania: The caroling tradition

In Romania, the first day of the year is called Saint Vasile. On this festivity, children from Romania sing a carol called Sorcova to wish people a rich and prosperous year. The Sorcova is a stick decorated with colourful flowers, and children slightly hit their parents or relatives on January 1st with it to wish them good luck. Although nowadays the Sorcova is made of artificial flowers, it was usually made of branches of apple, pear or plum trees that were cute on Saint Andrew’s Day (on November 30th) or Saint Nicolas (on December 6th). 

There is another caroling song popular in Romania to welcome the New Year called the Plugusor, an agrarian carol with theatrical elements. 

4. Israel: How to welcome the Jewish New Year

The Jewish New Year, or Rosh Hashanah, is a festivity celebrated around the world. This holiday takes place during autumn, on the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar. This culinary tradition consists in eating apples and other fruits dipped in honey, which symbolize the sweetness and blessings of the year to come. During the night that this festivity begins, a blessing over a candle and the Kiddush, a blessing recited over wine.

Have you ever celebrated the New Year’s with one of this traditions?

If you are planning to welcome the new year among locals, don’t miss the opportunity to stay in your top choice accommodation with Olala Homes!