In Austria, New Year's Eve is usually celebrated with friends and family. At exactly midnight, all radio and television programmes operated by ORF broadcast the sound of the Pummerin, the bell of St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, followed by the Donauwalzer ("The Blue Danube") by Johann Strauss II. Many people dance to this at parties or in the street. Large crowds gather in the streets of Vienna, where the municipal government organises a series of stages where bands and orchestras play. Fireworks are set off by both municipal governments and individuals.
In Belgium, New Year's Eve (Sint Sylvester Vooravond ("Saint Sylvester's Eve") or Oudjaar ("old year")) is celebrated with family parties, called réveillons in the French speaking areas. On television, a stand-up comedian reviews the past year after which a musical or variety show signals midnight, when everyone kisses, exchanges good luck greetings, and toasts the New Year and absent relatives and friends with champagne. Many people light fireworks or go into the street to watch them. Most cities have their own fireworks display: the most famous is at Mont des Arts in Brussels. Cities, cafés and restaurants are crowded. Free bus services and special New Year's Eve taxis (the Responsible Young Drivers) bring everyone home afterwards.
On January 1 (Nieuwjaarsdag in Dutch) children read their "New Year's letter" and give holiday greeting cards of decorated paper featuring golden cherubs and angels, colored roses and ribbon-tied garlands to parents and godparents, on decorated paper.
Belgian farmers also wish their animals a happy New Year.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
New Year is widely celebrated in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Streets are decorated and for New Year's Eve there is a fireworks show and concerts in all the larger cities. Children receive gifts from adults who are dressed as Djed Mraz. Restaurants, clubs, cafes and hotels are usually full of guests and they organize New Year's Eve parties.
In Sarajevo, people gather in the Square of children of Sarajevo where a local rock band entertain them. Several trumphet and rock groups play until the early morning hours. In the midnight there is a big firework.
Czech Republic & Slovakia
New Year's Eve (Silvestr/Silvester) celebrations and traditions in Czech Republic and Slovakia are very similar. New Year's Eve is the noisiest day of the year. People generally gather with friends at parties, in pubs, clubs, in the streets, or city squares to eat, drink, and celebrate the new year. Fireworks are a popular tradition; in large cities such as Bratislava, or Prague, the fireworks start before noon and steadily increase until midnight. In the first minutes after midnight, people toast with champagne, wish each other a happy new year, fortune and health, and go outside for the fireworks.
In both countries all major TV stations air entertainment shows before and after the midnight countdown, which is followed by the National anthem of each country. The Presidents of the republics give their New Year speech in the morning.
People in Denmark may go to parties or entertain guests at home. There is a special evening meal, with concludes with Kransekage, a special desert, along with champagne. Other traditional dishes are boiled cod, stewed kale and cured saddle of pork. However, expensive cuts of beef as well as sushi have become increasingly popular.
Two significant traditional events are broadcast on television and radio on December 31: the monarch's New Year message from Amalienborg Palace at 6pm and the Town Hall Clock in Copenhagen striking midnight. Thousands of people gather together in Rådhuspladsen (the Town Hall Square) and cheer. The Royal Guard parade in their red gala uniforms. The climax of the celebration is fireworks launched as the Town Hall Tower bells chime on the stroke of midnight.
The United Kingdom's celebrations are noticeably divided among the three nations that compose it: England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales (each has its section below). In England, clocks symbolize the transition that occurs at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. The celebration in London focuses on Big Ben, the bell and by association, the clock housed in the clock tower at the Palace of Westminster. The celebrations have been televised from London by the BBC since 1984 in the English regions, Wales, and Northern Ireland, it had previously televised the Scottish celebrations since 1936. Parties are held across the country, in pubs, clubs, and private houses. At the stroke of midnight, people join hands in a ring and sing Auld Lang Syne.
On New Year's Eve 2010, an estimated 250,000 people gathered to view an eight-minute fireworks display around and above the London Eye which was, for the first time, set to a musical soundtrack. The soundtrack included songs by British artists such as Blur, The Beatles, and Queen. The celebrations in London continued into January 1, with the New Year's Day Parade, held annually since 1987. The 2011 parade involved more than 10,000 musicians, cheerleaders and performers. For the arrival of 2012, there were a few small changes. In addition to the fireworks going off at the London Eye, more fireworks went off from the Big Ben with every chime. Other major New Year events are held in the cities of Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, and Newcastle.
Bideford, in north Devon, is also known for its New Year's Eve celebrations, featuring a carnival and fancy dress. The celebration centers on Bideford's quayside and around its Old Bridge, with a lone piper playing Auld Lang Syne at midnight, followed by a fireworks display.
To celebrate New Year's Eve in Estonia, people decorate villages, visit friends and prepare lavish meals.
Some believe that people should eat seven, nine, or twelve times on New Year's Eve. These are lucky numbers in Estonia; it is believed that for each meal consumed, the person gains the strength of that many men the following year. Meals should not be completely finished some food should be left for ancestors and spirits who visit the house on New Year's Eve.
Traditional New Year food includes pork with sauerkraut or Estonian sauerkraut (mulgikapsad), baked potatoes and swedes with hog's head, and white and blood sausage. Vegetarians can eat potato salad with navy beet and pâté. Gingerbread and marzipan are very popular for dessert. Traditional New Year drinks include beer and mead, but mulled wine and champagne have become modern favourites.
In Finland, New Year's Eve is usually celebrated with family or friends. Late supper is served, often featuring wieners, Janssonin kiusaus, and potato salad. Some municipalities organize fireworks at midnight. Consumer fireworks are also very popular. A Finnish tradition is molybdomancy - to tell the fortunes of the New Year by melting "tin" (actually lead) in a tiny pan on the stove and throwing it quickly in a bucket of cold water. The resulting blob of metal is analyzed, for example by interpreting shadows it casts by candlelight. These predictions are however never taken seriously.
The Finnish Broadcasting Company broadcasts the reception of the New Year at Helsinki Senate Square. Countdown to New Year is with the Helsinki Cathedral clock. In the afternoon programme, the German comedy sketch Dinner for One is shown every year. On the radio, just before midnight, the poem Hymyilevä Apollo (Smiling Apollo) by Eino Leino is read.
In France, New Year's Eve (la Saint-Sylvestre) is usually celebrated with a feast, le Réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre (Cap d'Any in Northern Catalonia). This feast customarily includes special dishes including foie gras, seafood such as oysters, and champagne. The celebration can be a simple, intimate dinner with friends and family or, une soirée dansante, a much fancier ball.
On New Year's Day (le Jour de l'An) friends and family exchange New Year's resolutions, kisses, and wishes. Some people eat ice cream.
The holiday period ends on January 6 with the celebration of Epiphany (Jour des Rois). A traditional type of flat pastry cake, la galette des rois, made of two sheets of puff pastry, filled with frangipane (almond paste) is eaten. The cake contains a fève, a small china doll; whomever finds it becomes king or queen and gets to wear a gold paper crown and choose his or her partner. This tradition can last up to two weeks.
In Germany, parties are common on New Year's Eve (Silvester). Fireworks are very popular, both with individuals and large municipal displays. Every year Berlin hosts one of the largest New Year's Eve celebrations in all of Europe, attended by over a million people. The focal point is the Brandenburg Gate, where midnight fireworks are centered. Germans toast the New Year with a glass of Sekt (German sparkling wine) or champagne.
Since 1972, each New Year's Eve, several German television stations broadcast a short comedy play in English (recorded by West German television in 1963) entitled Dinner for One. A line from the comedy sketch, "the same procedure as every year", has become a catch phrase in Germany.
Bleigießen (pouring lead) is another German New Year's Eve custom, which involves telling fortunes by the shapes made by molten lead dropped into cold water. Other auspicious actions are to touch a chimney sweep or have him rub some ash on your forehead for good luck and health. Jam-filled doughnuts (called Berliner) with and without liquor fillings are eaten. Finally a tiny marzipan pig is consumed for more good luck.
Yet another German tradition is the making of Speckdicken - people go door to door visiting their neighbors and partaking in this dish. It looks similar to a pancake, but the recipe calls for either dark molasses or dark syrup, with summer sausage and bacon in the center.
New Year's Eve (Szilveszter) in Hungary is celebrated with home parties and street parties, including a gathering in downtown Budapest. Fireworks and firecrackers are popular. Champagne, wine and traditional Hungarian New Year dishes—frankfurter sausages with horseradish, lentil soup, fish, and roast pig—are consumed. In past centuries, some Hungarians believed that animals were able to speak on New Year's Eve, and that onion skins sprinkled with salt could indicate a rainy month.
Hungarian Christian communities focus on celebrating Mass on both New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
Fireworks are very popular in Iceland, particularly on New Year's Eve. Bonfires are also very common, often accompanied by shows, musical events and food tables.
Iceland's biggest New Year's Eve events are usually in and around the capital, Reykjavík. Most Icelanders listen to the evening radio broadcast of the mass at Reykjavik's cathedral. This is followed by dinner. Nightclubs in the city are very crowded and tend to stay open until at least 5 am.
Áramótaskaupið ("The New Year's comedy") is an annual Icelandic television comedy special, that is an important part of the New Year for most. It focuses satirically on the past year, and shows little mercy for its victims, especially politicians, artists, prominent business people and activists. Neighbours then meet at their nearest large bonfire, while watching the midnight fireworks.
New Year's Eve (Oíche Chinn Bliana, Oíche na Coda Móire, or Oíche Chaille) celebrations in major cities are modest, with most people favouring small parties in the home for family and friends. Pubs and clubs across the country hold events on New Year's Eve, particularly in larger cities.
In Italy, New Year's Eve (Vigilia di Capodanno or Notte di San Silvestro) is celebrated by the observation of traditional rituals, such as wearing red underwear. An ancient tradition, no longer existing, was disposing of old or unused items by dropping them from the window.
Dinner is traditionally eaten with parents and friends. It often includes zampone or cotechino (a meal made with pig's trotters or entrails), and lentils. At 8:30 pm, the President reads a television message of greetings to Italians.
At midnight, fireworks are displayed all across the country. A lentil stew is eaten when bell tolls midnight, one spoonful per bell. This is supposed to bring good fortune; the round lentils represent coins.
New Year's Eve is celebrated across Macedonia. New Year's Day is celebrated by day-long fireworks shows. The day is celebrated together with family or friends at home or in restaurants, clubs, cafés and hotels. During the day-time celebration children get gifts. Evening celebrations include food, music, and dancing to both traditional Macedonian folk music, and modern music. New Year's Eve is celebrated on December 31 and also on January 14 according to the Macedonian Orthodox (Julian) Calendar.
Malta organized its first New Year's street party in 2009 in Floriana. The event was not highly advertised and proved controversial, due to the closing of an arterial street for the day. In 2010 there were the first national celebrations in St. George's Square, Valletta Although amateur fireworks are very popular in Malta, they are almost totally absent on New Year's Eve.
In Montenegro, New Year's Eve celebrations are held in all large cities, usually accompanied by fireworks. It is usually celebrated with family or friends, at home or outside. Restaurants, clubs, cafés and hotels organize celebrations with food and music.
New Year's Eve (Oud en Nieuw or Oudejaarsavond) in the Netherlands is usually celebrated as a cosy evening with family or friends. Traditional snack foods are oliebollen (oil dumplings) and appelbeignets(not to be mistaken for the "appelflap" which is completely different) (apple slice fritters). On television, the main feature is the oudejaarsconference, a performance by one of the major Dutch cabaretiers (comparable to stand-up comedy, but more serious, generally including a satirical review of the year's politics). Historically, in Reformed Protestant families, Psalm 90 is read, although this tradition is now fading away. At midnight, Glühwein (bishops wine) or Champagne is drunk. Many people light their own fireworks. Towns do not organize a central fireworks display, except for Rotterdam where the national fireworks display can be seen near the Erasmus Bridge. Public transport shuts down completely (the only scheduled time during the year) between approximately 8pm and 1am. On television a clock is broadcast several minutes before midnight.
New Year's celebrations are modest, with most people choosing to gather with friends.
The day has long been overshadowed by Christmas, even in areas of predominantly Scottish settlement.
in Poland New Year's Eve (Sylwester) celebrations include both indoor and outdoor festivities. A large open-air concert is held in the Main Square in Krakow. 150,000 to 200,000 revelers celebrate the New Year with live music and a fireworks display over St. Mary's Basilica. Similar festivities are held in other cities around Poland.
For those who do not wish to spend the New Year in the city, the mountains are a popular destination. Zakopane, located in the Carpathian Mountains, is the most popular Polish mountain resort in winter.
Also, New Year's Eve (Sylwester) celebrations in the Katowice, near the Spodek arena.
Traditional celebrations of New Year's Eve (Revelion) are the norm in Romania. Romanians follow centuries-old customs, rituals, and conventions. Children sing "Pluguşorul" and "Sorcova", traditional carols that wish goodwill, happiness and success.
Parties are common in the evening. Since the Romanian Revolution of 1989, Romanians have gathered in the University Square in Bucharest. Other significant parties occur in Piaţa Constituţiei and Romexpo where Sectorul 5 mayor Marian Vanghelie organizes Vangheliona very cheep party for thousands of people featuring oriental and tropical food, musical icons such as Enrique Iglesias or Toni Braxton, many other Romanian music stars, and a fireworks show.
Most Russians celebrate New Year's Eve with their families and close friends. The origin of this holiday in Russia derives from Christmas. Christmas was also a major holiday in Russia until it was banned, with all other religious holidays, by the Communist Party. To compensate for the absence of Christmas, New Year's was celebrated as much as Christmas was, but without the religious aspect of the holiday. Even after the fall of the Soviet Union, New Year's is celebrated in Russia and has became a Russian tradition. There is an old superstition that if the first visitor (especially an unexpected one) on January 1 is a man, the year will be good. People also try to start the new year without debts.
Celebration usually starts one or two hours before midnight. A common tradition is to "say farewell to the old year" by remembering the most important events of the last twelve months. At five minutes to twelve most people watch the president's speech on TV or watch popular New Year TV shows. There is a tradition to listen to the Kremlin clock bell ringing twelve times on the radio or on TV. During these last twelve seconds of the year people keep silence and make their secret wishes for the next year. After the clock strikes, they drink champagne and have rich dinner, watching TV concerts and having fun. Some people light fireworks outside and visit their friends and neighbors. As December 30 and 31 are working days, a lot of people also have small parties at work, though December 31 is mostly spent at home or with friends.
In Scotland, New Year's (Hogmanay) is celebrated with several different customs, such as First-Footing, which involves friends or family members going to each other's houses with a gift of whisky and sometimes a lump of coal.
Edinburgh, the Scottish capital, hosts one of the world's most famous New Year celebrations. The celebration is focused on a major street party along Princes Street. The cannon is fired at Edinburgh Castle at the stroke of midnight, followed by a large fireworks display. Edinburgh hosts a festival of four or five days, beginning on 28 December, and lasting until New Year's Day or January 2, which is also a bank holiday in Scotland. Other cities across Scotland, such as Aberdeen, Glasgow and Stirling have large organised celebrations too, including fireworks at midnight.
BBC Scotland broadcast the celebrations in Edinburgh to a Scottish audience, with the celebrations also screened across the world. STV covers both worldwide New Year celebrations, and details of events happening around Scotland.
New Year's Eve in Serbia is traditionally celebrated extensively. Indoors, families celebrate New Year's Eve with an abundance of food. 'Serbs decorate trees, 'Novogodišnja jelka, at New Year's, rather than at Christmas. Near, or after midnight, Santa Claus (Deda Mraz) visits houses and leaves presents under the tree, to be unpacked then or, if the family is asleep, to be discovered in the morning.
Restaurants, clubs, cafes and hotels are usually fully booked and organize New Year's celebrations with food and live music.
Serbian New Year's celebrations are most known for the outdoors festivities in Belgrade, and several other major cities such as Novi Sad and Niš. As of mid-December, cities are extensively decorated and lit. The decorations remain until way into January due to the influence of the Julian calendar. Throughout the region, especially amongst former Yugoslav republics, Belgrade is the most popular destination for major parties. It has become common for large groups of Slovenes to visit their former capital and celebrate the beginning of a new year. Street celebrations grow into mass gatherings with hundreds of thousands of people celebrating New Year's in one of several locations throughout Belgrade. During former President Milošević's term, the gatherings had a strong political connotation as well. Since 2000, the City of Belgrade has annually organized several concerts with major national and international performers on Belgrade's major squares: the Republic Square, Terazije Square and in front of the Serbian Parliament building. The concerts commence early in the evening and last well into the morning. Usually, there are separate celebrations and concerts organized for small children ( in Slavija Square) and for elderly (in Kalemegdan park). Midnight is marked by major fireworks fired from buildings within the city.
On January 1, the central Svetogorska street is closed to vehicle traffic and is used to hold the "street of open heart" festival. Food and warm drinks are served and open air theater plays are performed, while families with children as well as politicians (often including the President) walk down the street. The evening of the first of January is reserved for the repriza, a repeat of the previous night; people often go to clubs, friends houses, or squares where they were the previous night, to celebrate once more. Slightly down-scaled festivities are organized.
On January 13, a large part of the population celebrates "Serbian New Year", according to the Julian calendar. Usually one concert is organized in front of either City Hall or the National Parliament in Belgrade, while fireworks are prepared by the Serbian Orthodox Church and fired from the Cathedral of Saint Sava, where people also gather. Other cities also organize such celebrations.
Spanish New Year's Eve (Nochevieja or Fin de Año) celebrations usually begin with a family dinner, traditionally including shrimp or prawns, and lamb or capon. Spanish tradition says that wearing new, red underwear on New Year's Eve brings good luck. The actual countdown is primarily followed from the clock on top of the Casa de Correos building in Puerta del Sol Square in Madrid. It is traditional to eat twelve grapes, one on each chime of the clock. This tradition has its origins in 1909, when grape growers in Alicante thought of it as a way to cut down on the large production surplus they had had that year. Nowadays, the tradition is followed by almost every Spaniard, and the twelve grapes have become synonymous with the New Year. After the clock has finished striking twelve, people greet each other and toast with sparkling wine such as cava or champagne, or with cider.
After the family dinner and the grapes, many young people attend cotillones de nochevieja parties (named for the Spanish word cotillón, which refers to party supplies like confetti, party blowers, and party hats) at pubs, clubs, and similar places. Parties usually last until the next morning and range from small, personal celebrations at local bars to huge parties with guests numbering the thousands at hotel convention rooms. Early the next morning, party attendees usually gather to have the traditional winter breakfast of hot chocolate and fried pastry (chocolate con churros).
In Switzerland, New Year's Eve is typically celebrated at a residence with friends. There are no particular main dishes associated with the event, although sweets and desserts are usual. Each commune has its own government-arranged countdown in a public space, accompanied with formal fireworks shows in smaller cities.
In Sweden, New Year's Eve is usually celebrated with families or with friends. A few hours before and after midnight, people usually party and eat a special dinner, often three courses. New Year's Eve is celebrated with large fireworks displays throughout the country, especially in the cities. People over the age of 18 are allowed to buy fireworks, which are sold by local stores or by private persons. While watching or lighting fireworks at midnight, people usually drink champagne.
In the countries that were formerly part of the Soviet Union, New Year's has the same cultural significance as Christmas has in the United States, but without the religious connotations. Ukrainian families traditionally install spruce trees at home, the equivalent of a Christmas tree. Families gather to eat a large feast and reflect on the past year. They have a large celebration, make toasts, and make wishes for a happy New Year. Families give presents to their friends as well as informal acquaintances. As Ukrainians are traditionally a closely knit community, it is seen as a taboo to not give presents to those the family associates with. Children stay up until midnight, waiting for the New Year. During these celebrations many Ukrainians tune to special New Year shows, which have become a long-standing tradition for the Ukrainian TV.
New Year is often considered a "pre-celebration" for Greek Catholics and Eastern Orthodox living in Eastern Europe, primarily in Ukraine, since Christmas is celebrated on January 7.
Numerous decorations and customs traditionally associated with Christmas and Bayrams are part of secular New Year's Eve celebrations in Turkey. Homes and streets are lit in glittering lights. Small gifts are exchanged, and large family dinners are organized with family and friends, featuring a special Zante currant-pimento-dill iç pilav dish, dolma, hot börek, baklava, and various other eggplant dishes, topped with warm pide, salep, and boza. Even though Turkish people generally don't celebrate Christmas, decorating Christmas trees is a very popular tradition on New Year's Eve in Turkey. In Turkey, Santa Claus is associated with New Year's Eve instead of Christmas.
Television and radio channels are known to continuously broadcast a variety of special New Year's Eve programs, while municipalities all around the country organize fundraising events for the poor, in addition to celebratory public shows such as concerts and family-friendly events, as well as more traditional forms of entertainment such as the Karagöz and Hacivat shadow-theater, and even performances by the Mehter—the Janissary Band that was founded during the days of the Ottoman Empire.
Public and private parties with large public attendances are organised in a number of cities and towns, particularly in the largest metropolitan areas such as Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Adana and Antalya, with the biggest celebrations taking place in Istanbul's Taksim, Beyoğlu, Nişantaşı and Kadıköy districts and Ankara's Kızılay Square, which generally feature dancing, concerts, laser and lightshows as well as the traditional countdown and fireworks display.
The Welsh tradition of giving gifts and money on New Year's Day (Calennig) is an ancient custom that survives in modern-day Wales, though nowadays it is now customary to give bread and cheese.
Thousands of people descend every year on Cardiff to enjoy live music, catering, ice-skating, funfairs and fireworks. Many of the celebrations take place at Cardiff Castle and Cardiff City Hall.
Every New Year's Eve, the Nos Galan road race (Rasys Nos Galan), a 5-kilometre (3.1 mi) running race, is held in Mountain Ash in the Cynon Valley, Rhondda Cynon Taf, South Wales. The race celebrates the life and achievements of Welsh runner Guto Nyth Brân. Founded in 1958 by local runner Bernard Baldwin, it is run over the 5 kilometre route of Guto's first competitive race. The main race starts with a church service at Llanwynno, and then a wreath is laid on Guto's grave in Llanwynno graveyard. After lighting a torch, it is carried to the nearby town of Mountain Ash, where the main race takes place.
The race consists of a double circuit of the town centre, starting in Henry Street and ending in Oxford Street, by the commemorative statue of Guto. Traditionally, the race was timed to end at midnight, but in recent times it was rescheduled for the convenience of family entertainment, now concluding at around 9pm. This has resulted in a growth in size and scale, and the proceedings now start with an afternoon of street entertainment, and fun run races for children, concluding with the church service, elite runners' race and presentations.