CommGap International Language Services


New Year’s Celebrations Around the World + How to say “Happy New Year” in 25 Languages

January 5th, 2015

New Year traditions will be celebrated around the world in the coming days and weeks as we close out the end of the year and move into a new one. The ancient tradition of celebrating the new year was started in Babylon, Greece which dates back at least 4,000 years. While many countries celebrate the new year on January 1st, there are still many cultures that follow other religious and sonar/lunar calendars, thus leading to New Year’s celebrations at other times during the year. Although each culture may celebrate the holiday in their unique and individual way, each represents the start of a new beginning as they head into a new year. We are going to take a look into several countries celebrations of the new year.

United States

One of the most notable New Year’s Eve celebrations in the United States is the celebration held in Times Square in New York City. Millions of individuals watch the festivities in New York, both in-person and on television, to watch as they “drop the ball” at the stroke of midnight. The giant ball which signals the official beginning of the new year weighs in at nearly 12,000 pounds and is 12 feet in diameter. Families and friends around the country come together on New Year’s Eve to celebrate the new year by playing games, eating, and counting down to the stroke of midnight when many light fireworks, bang noisemakers and toast to the new year. Many celebrate by making New Year’s resolutions to help them make positive changes during the coming year.


The Chinese New Year, also known today as the Spring Festival, begins this coming year in February and lasts for fifteen days, because it rotates on the lunar calendar. The festival was started to honor “household and heavenly deities.” The Chinese New Year is still considered the most important national festival throughout the country. For the Chinese, this celebration is traditionally focused on family and bringing them together to celebrate the new year. It is often celebrated with a parade, with the well-recognized silk dragon leading the way, as well as many dancers. Each of the twelve years on the Chinese lunar calendar is represented by one of twelve animals, also known as the Chinese Zodiac. Traditional dishes eaten during Chinese New Year include homemade dumplings and long noodles.


Rosh Hashanah, represents the Jewish New Year and the term literally means the “head of the year” or “first of the year.” Unlike many of the other new year’s celebrations around the world, Rosh Hashanah is deeply spiritual and holds great religious importance. The Jewish New Year is considered one of the holiest days of the year under Jewish tradition. The festival typically falls during the month of September or October during Tishrei, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar. During Rosh Hashanah congregations gather together at synagogue for prayer services and the sounding of the shofar, a trumpet made from a ram’s horn. There are a total of 100 sounds of the trumpet during each day of the festival. Following religious services, most families gather for a special meal with dishes that “represent positive wishes for the new year.”  Rosh Hashanah culminates with Yom Kippur after its duration.


Shogatsu, otherwise known as Oshogatsu is Japan’s three-day New Year celebration, which much like other countries, is focused on bringing the family together to celebrate one of the most important holidays in the country. Bonenkai (“year forgetting parties”) is a common tradition which allows individuals to put the past year behind them as they move forward with a clean-slate for the new year. Traditional foods eaten during Shogatsu may include toshikoshi (buckwheat noodles), sechi ryori, otoso (sweetened rice wine), and ozone (mocha soup). Families will often adorn their homes with ornaments “made of pine, bamboo, and plum trees.” Visits to temples and shrines are a common way to celebrate the holiday and temple bells are rung to bring in the new year.

More New Year’s Traditions

  • In Mexico it is customary to ring a bell in each home at the stroke of midnight. While ringing the bells on New Year’s Eve, many eat twelve grapes to symbolize their wishes for the twelve months of the coming year.
  • Due to the large numbers of Roman Catholics in Argentina, many go to cathedrals and churches to offer prayers to God for the new year. They pray for happiness and prosperity in the coming year.
  • In London, England the British celebrate the new year with a spectacular fireworks display over the Thames River. They often release upwards of 12,000 individual fireworks on New Year’s Eve.
  • Over 1 million people line the 40-mile shoreline of Australia to watch their fireworks show.
  • In Nepal they celebrate up to nine different new year festivals throughout the year for the various ethnic groups within the country.

Learn how to say “Happy New Year” in 25 languages!

Chinese (Cantonese) Gung hay fat choy (may you become prosperous)
Chinese (Mandarin) Xin nian yu kuai
Dutch Gelukkig nieuwjaar
Farsi Aide shoma mobarak
French Bonne année
Gaelic Aith-bhliain Fe Nhaise Dhuit
German Gutes Neues Jahr
Greek Kali hronia
Hawaiian Hauoli Makahiki Hou
Hebrew Shanah tovah (for a good year)
Hmong Nyob zoo xyoo tshiab
Indonesian Selamat Tahun Baru
Italian Buon Capo d’Anno
Japanese Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu
Norweigan Godt Nyttår
Pilipino (Tagalog) Maligayang Bagong Taon
Polish Szczesliwego Nowego roku
Portuguese Feliz ano novo
Romanian La Multi Ani
Russian S Novym Godom
Spanish Feliz Año Nuevo
Sudanese Wilujeng Tahun Baru
Swedish Gott Nytt År
Turkish Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun
Welsh Blwyddyn Newydd Dda

Compilation from:


Galicia, Angelica. “Mexican Traditions: Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Mexico.”Mexican Traditions: Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Mexico. N.p., 2012. Web. 29 Dec. 2014. Staff. “Chinese New Year.” A&E Television Networks, 2010. Web. 28 Dec. 2014. Staff. “Rosh Hashanah.” A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web. 28 Dec. 2014. Staff. “New Year’s.” A&E Television Networks, 2010. Web. 28 Dec. 2014.

“Japanese New Year.” Japanese New Year., 7 June 2008. Web. 28 Dec. 2014.

“Nepali New Year – We All Nepali.” Nepali New Year – We All Nepali. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Dec. 2014.

“New Year In Argentina – Traditions and Customs.” New Year In Argentina – Traditions and Customs. N.p., 2014. Web. 29 Dec. 2014.

Rich, Tracey R. “Judaism 101: Rosh Hashanah.” Judaism 101: Rosh Hashanah. N.p., 2011. Web. 28 Dec. 2014.