New Year’s Resolutions and Traditions Around the World

New Year’s Resolutions and Traditions Around the World

Lose weight. Be more organized. Stop smoking. Blah blah blah.

Certainly there are more imaginative New Year’s resolutions and traditions out there on the planet. Yes?


The First New Year’s ResolutionIt’s believed that making New Year’s resolutions started thousands of years ago, when the Babylonians made promises – like returning borrowed farm equipment – in order to earn favor from the gods. Emperor Julius Caesar named January 1st New Year’s Day, naming the month of January after Janus, the Roman god of beginnings.

Do you have any resolutions in mind for the new year? To help out, we rounded up some fascinating New Year’s rituals and traditions from several of our MIR destinations:

Christmas Carolers, PolandPhoto credit: John Seckel

Christmas Carolers, Poland
Photo credit: John Seckel

PolandNew Year’s Eve is “St. Sylvester’s Eve” here because legend says a dragon captured by Pope Sylvester did not escape, did not eat everyone on the planet, and did not set fire to the skies. Since the world did not end on this New Year’s Eve, people celebrate the festive day in honor of St. Sylvester


EstoniaPeople will eat 7, 9, or 12 times on New Year’s Eve, all lucky numbers here. But don’t eat everything – leave some food for the dead ancestors and spirits who will visit your home on New Year’s Eve.

Christmas in Estonia<br>Photo credit: Estonia Tourist Board

Medieval New Year’s feast in Estonia
Photo credit: Estonia Tourist Board

Bosnia and HerzegovinaFireworks, concerts, and gifts from Dyed Mraz (Father Frost) for the kids. In Sarajevo there’s a rock concert in the Square.


RussiaNew Year’s resolutions often focus on education – learning more, pure and simple. Russians try to pay off their debts, since it’s good luck to start off the New Year free and clear. Typically there’s silence in the last 12 seconds of the old year, as Russians make secret wishes for the New Year.


ChinaChinese New Year is between January 21st and February 20th. For this special first day of the year, front doors get a fresh coat of red paint, which symbolizes happiness and good luck. Knives are tucked away for 24 hours so no one will cut themselves: that would cut the family’s good luck for the next year.


UkraineIt’s a bit like Christmas in the U.S. here, with families gathering for a splendid table, making toasts, and exchanging gifts. New Year’s is an early start to celebrating Orthodox Christmas on January 7th.


KoreaThis is the day to renew family ties, the first day of the lunar New Year called Sol-nal. It’s an unusual sight on the outside doors and walls of homes: rakes and sieves are put out to protect families inside from evil spirits in the New Year. On New Year’s Day it’s time for new clothes made with five specific colors (red, white, blue, yellow and green), symbolizing a new start. As in so many countries, this is a time for family and relatives to gather in celebration, from very oldest to very youngest.


Celebrate and Travel with MIR in 2019!

Here at MIR, our New Year’s resolution is always to do more traveling – at least one new country per year. How about you? 

Ready to start planning your trip? You can search online by destination on our map, or use our Trip Finder to search by country, tour dates, or travel style. 

MIR has more than 30 years of travel experience  undiscovered destinations offering on-the-ground support, and tour managers that clients rave about. MIR’s full service, dedication, commitment to quality, and destination expertise have twice earned us a place on National Geographic Adventure’s list of “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.”

Contact MIR today at or 1-800-424-7289.

Happy travels in 2019!



(Top photo: Winter in Tallinn, Estonia. Photo credit: Toomas Volmer)

PUBLISHED: December 12, 2015

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