New Traditions for the New Year

New Traditions for the New Year

Inspirations from New Year traditions to jumpstart your own



Call me ridiculous, but I love traditions. I’m referring to the small, harmless and intimate ones that you can look forward to every year, not the large-scale norms that bound you into place. Traditions like setting up the Christmas tree together every year, not traditions like having to go to a particular university because everyone in your family attended that school.


There are traditions worth starting and traditions worth breaking. Today, we talk about the former.


There is a certain fondness and charm that comes with keeping traditions. When I did cultural research work for documentaries on Filipino gastronomy, it was the decades-old traditions that we wanted to bring to light and keep alive. It was because these traditions bring so much definition into our culture—imbuing character and richness that leads to individuality. In a tighter perspective, traditions are nice to have and bring intimacy into personal history. 


A tradition creates a shared memory that you can look back on and look forward to, like buying a special ornament in every new place you visit or attending your university’s annual Christmas festivities. There are so many layers when it comes to tradition—there’s the religious (Philippines’ Simbang Gabi or Christmastime mass), gastronomic (Korea’s Kimjang or kimchi-making), and even geographic and seasonal (Yakutia’s untuu to survive the winter). Personally, I have my own little tradition of collecting pins from every country I visit! What tradition you choose to do doesn’t matter, really. Any tradition you commit to becomes beautiful with time and dedication.


When it comes to New Year preparations, we often think about the next year as a whole (i.e. goals and resolutions) but why not start with the first day of the year?


Take some inspiration from New Year traditions around the world to jumpstart your own for 2024.


First sunrise of the year

In East Asian culture, specifically Japan and Korea, it is tradition to witness the first sunrise of the year. Japan calls this Hatsuhinode, with hatsu meaning “the first.” It’s a literal translation of the ritual—the first sunrise of the year. Following the legend, people watch the first sunrise to greet Toshigami Sama, the god of New Year, and pray for the new year ahead. If you’ve watched your fair share of anime, you would also know that they also do Hatsumōde or the first shrine visit of the year. While there’s no particular name for this in Korean culture, they do something similar, witnessing the first sunrise on beaches or mountains to make a wish for the new year.


Big cleanup

Japan partakes in a year-end ritual called Ōsōji, which literally translates to “big cleaning.” From temples to households, even schools and offices, people deep clean their environment from top to bottom so they can enter the new year in a purified state. The tradition is believed to have emanated from the Edo Period (1603 to 1868) when the Edo Castle was cleaned from top to bottom on the last day of the year and the commoners followed suit. During that time, the practice was called Susuharai, which meant “removing the soot” and was performed to welcome the deities of the New Year.



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Cleansing the old year

Had a bad year? We get it. In parts of Latin America such as Colombia and Ecuador, families construct an año viejo, meaning “old year” in Spanish. It’s a doll made from rags and scraps and dressed up with old clothes or, in recent years, made from paper-mâché, resembling political figures or cartoon characters. It’s a symbol of purification, cleansing off the old year to make room for regeneration in the new year. Some families add their own twist, such as tucking in paper notes containing what they want to discard, eating 12 grapes and making 12 wishes before starting the fire, or even jumping over the fire 12 times for good luck each month.


@thecraftingcasita_ Preparados para explotar el año viejo! #quemarelañoviejo #añoviejo #añoviejo2022 #viejitoconcuetes #lacal #lacalguanajuato #cuetes #2023 #fireworks #newyear2023 #mexico #mexico #tradiciones #tradicionesmexicanas ♬ sonido original – Viajero del Tiempo


Gifts: sending cards and good luck charms

Anik-anik girlies, it’s your time to shine. In Austria, it’s tradition to give good luck charms on New Year’s Eve. There’s often a running motif, with different kinds of symbols all representing good luck. For Austrians, these are often trinkets that feature chimney sweepers, four-leaf clovers, horseshoes, ladybugs, lucky cents, pigs and mushrooms.


What are your traditions for the New Year? Will you be adapting any of these into your own?



Words Gwyneth King

Art Macky Arquilla

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