3, 2, 1…New Year’s Traditions From Around the World, Part II

Goodbye 2022, and hello 2023 – let’s celebrate the new year around the world!

Last year, we talked about New Year’s traditions from Scotland, Spain, and Japan.

This year, we’re heading to the Philippines, Ecuador, and American Samoa to learn of their unique traditions and customs.

Polka Dots in the Philippines

If polka dots are your favorite fashion trend, then the Philippines is where you should ring in the new year.

In the Philippines, where round things represent prosperity, polka dots signify money and fortune.

Needless to say, the fashion of the new year is polka dots, so dress in your finest.

Continuing in this concept, you’ll likely be eating round-shaped fruits as well, which are the centerpiece of the Media Noche (Spanish for “midnight”) – the tradition of a lavish midnight feast, inherited from the Spaniards who once colonized the Philippines.

Burning Effigies in Ecuador

Who wants to burn last year to the ground?

If that’s how you feel, celebrate the new year in Ecuador, where a masked dummy known as the año viejo is made to symbolize the misfortunes of the past year.

At midnight, the sawdust-and-paper effigies are burnt to ashes in the hopes that last year’s misfortunes will disappear in the new year.

Often, the figures are wearing masks of politicians, sports or film stars, cartoon figures, superheroes, animals, and more.

Two-in-One New Year in the South Pacific

Located in the South Pacific Ocean, the last inhabited place on earth to celebrate the New Year is the island of Tutuila in the America Samoa.

The remote tropical island sees only 34,000 visitors annually, and its primary city of Pago Pago is home to fewer than 10,000 people.

Samoan families who have immigrated to other countries often return home to celebrate in homes dressed with flowers and colored papers.

The celebration involves gift-giving, as well as traditional dancing and food.

Its neighboring island of Tonga lies 550 miles away and, lying on the other end of the international dateline, is one of the first countries to ring in the new year. 

So, you have a chance to hop on an 18-minute flight from Tonga to Tutuila to ring in the new year twice!