Happy new year in different languages

Happy new year

2019 is coming to a close and for all you language learners out there, I’m sure you have some new years resolutions about languages. A great way to start off the year, is to learn how to say happy new year in different languages to get you started, and of course, let’s have a look at some of the typical New Years traditions from each country.

10 ways to wish someone a happy new year, and the traditions!


Happy new year!

How they celebrate:

New Years Eve in England is normally celebrated with friends and sometimes with family. Although the English like a night out, most New Years Eve celebrations take place in people’s houses, with a few close friends or neighbours invited round.

A thing particular to the UK is first foot. After midnight, the first person to enter the house in the bringer of good fortune for the year to come. Each year, a family member is sent outside so they can come back inside to bring good luck to the house. The only downside of this is that to be first foot, you can’t have been in the house when the clock struck midnight. Meaning at a lot of parties in the UK, someone is sent to stand outside during the count down and they can only come back in after.



Bonne année!

How they celebrate:

Similarly to in England, after spending Christmas with family, New Years Eve is normally a celebration amongst friends, although you will find family parties. Normally the evening is started off with a meal including traditional French food before moving onto drinks, normally wine or champagne, and of course the new years countdown.



Frohes neues Jahr!

How they celebrate:

Rather than a German translation of New Years Eve, the Germans call it Silvester, after a pope in the 300s.

Also, instead of wishing someone a happy new year, in Germany you wish someone a ‘Guten Rutsch,’ which translates to have a good slide. In addition to this, good luck charms are quite common. You might find yourself the receiver of a strange small gift that is given to bring good luck to the receiver.



¡Feliz año nuevo!

How they celebrate:

An unusual tradition that the Spanish have is to eat grapes during the countdown to midnight, this is literally a grape a chime, which is a lot more difficult than it sounds. The point of this is that the grapes represent each month of the year, and eating them before the clock strikes midnight will bring the eater good luck.



Felice anno nuovo!

How they celebrate:

Because it’s Italy, the tradition we had to include is about food. The dinner that Italians eat on New Years Eve consists of sausages and green lentils and they usually eat this at the stroke of midnight. The sausages are sliced into coin shapes to signify wealth and prosperity for the year to come.


pots and pans

Feliz Ano Novo!

How they celebrate:

 A cool Portuguese tradition celebrated in the south of the country is to bang pots and pans together to ward off evil spirits. Fireworks are also very popular for the exact same reason and you will see them all over the country.

Just like the Spanish, the Portuguese also have the tradition of eating twelve grapes during the countdown to midnight for good luck.



Gelukkig nieuwjaar!

How they celebrate:

A very cold tradition in the Netherlands is to dive into the north sea on New Years Day. The English do the same on boxing day but we still think it’s a crazy and very brave tradition.

A tradition that we can get on board with is the eating of deep fried dough balls known as oliebollen and watching the fireworks. It sounds a lot warmer.


Gott nytt år!

How they celebrate:

Much like other contries in Europe, New Years Eve in Sweden is a time spent with friends and family, often in their houses or at small parties. However, despite the cold weather, many Swedes still choose to go outside and spend the New Year celebrations watching the fireworks in a public space.


Chinese New Year


Xīnnián kuàilè!

How they celebrate:

With the Chinese, it’s important to remember that our new year isn’t actually the same as their new year. The Chinese have a separate new year which we call ‘Chinese New Year,’ and they call new year or Spring Festival.

Although the Chinese have their separate new year, they join in on global festivities and celebrate our new year as well, with events and parties in the major cities. But if you talk to a Chinese person, the holiday that is the most important for them is Chinese New Year. Think of it a bit like our Christmas and New Year rolled into one.

Everyone stops working during Chinese New Year, they travel to see their families, they give the children in the family red envelopes full of money and they eat lots of food together.


New Year

С новым годом!

S novym godom!

How they celebrate:

Russians celebrate two New Years, one on the 31st December and their old new year which is on the 14th of January. The second New Year celebration is a lot smaller and tends to be kept as a family day. Where as the New Year is a big event with lots of drinking and fireworks.





How they celebrate:

A cute Japanese tradition is to send New Year postcards to your friends and family. So during this time of year, the post offices in Japan have to work twice as hard as they normally would to make sure everyone received their new year postcards.

Final thoughts

We wish you the best of luck with your language new years resolution and hopefully this time next year, you’ll be able to look back on the year and see what you’ve achieved.

If we’ve missed off your language, comment below and let us know how to say happy new year. We always want to learn new language skills.

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