Crocodile, Mermaid and Horseshoe: New Year's Symbols around the World

For Russians, New Year's celebration traditions almost always include a decorated fir-tree, Russian salad, tangerines, Father Frost and Snow Maiden, merry-making, and confetti. And what about other countries? Here is a selection of New Year's symbols from various corners of the world.


Wooden plaque (or horseshoe) called "ema" is among the most well-known New Year's symbols in Japan. People write their wishes on it and hang it on sacred tees in temples. Also Japan is associated with the Eastern calendar's year symbol – kuma, which symbolizes good luck and happiness. By the way, "kuma" means "bear". So, it is almost like in our country!


The main New Year's symbols in Korea are hanbok (traditional clothing), as well as "Sunsol" Japanese nut selections, which people send as gifts to their relatives and friends as a good-luck greeting of the New Year.


In Vietnam, the New Year is called Tết. And its especially important symbols are peach blossoms. They bring prosperity and good luck. Also, Miao Woyoun and Yang Woyoun cat figurines are used as New Year's symbols, and people believe that they have a protective effect.


Africa is a continent of huge cultural diversity. And each country has its own traditions of celebrating the New Year. For example, in South Africa carnivals are popular, while in certain countries in North Africa people burn old stuff to attract good luck. Animal symbols are also popular among Africans: zebras, crocodiles, and other animals typical of certain regions.

And in European countries, like in Russia, a Christmas tree is a symbol of the New Year's celebrations. People decorate it with ornament balls, and it becomes a centre point of the festivities and family gatherings. But each one has its own specifics.


Pig figurine is one of the most well-known New Year's symbols here. It brings wealth and abundance in the coming year. Garlands made of creative New Year's confetti are also popular in Germany.


In Italy, the main symbol is a figurine of the old year called "La Befana". Its image is an old lady, who brings gifts to children on the New Year's Eve. 


One of the popular New Year's symbols in France are tour operators. Their role is to call the New Year for help to attract good luck for the coming year.

Great Britain

In Great Britain, one of the most well-known New Year's symbols is a mermaid figurine. She is supposed to bring good luck and protect against evil spirits. In Scotland there is a special New Year's symbol, the "first bread", traditionally served for supper.

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