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5 min

New Year's customs of our employees around the world

New Year’s celebrations symbolize new beginnings and hope, with people across the globe marking the occasion through a number of different traditions and customs. Each country expresses its unique culture and history in its own way, which means that we get to embark on a fascinating journey of discovery through our big KION world, with contributions from colleagues from all corners of the globe.


Spain: Lucky Grapes

In Spain, young and old eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve.

In Spain, it is tradition to eat one grape for each chime of the clock at midnight. Each of the twelve grapes represents a promise of good luck for each month of the coming year. This merry and rather tasty custom is often celebrated at a social gathering, and two KION colleagues told us all about it. Diana Jakob from Linde Material Handling is familiar with this tradition from Barcelona (Spain). And Alexia Hernández Cargal from Dematic in Atlanta (USA) adds to this ritual with another custom from Puerto Rico: “We eat twelve grapes at midnight with a glass of Spanish champagne called “Segura Viudas”.”

The Netherlands: Oliebollen (Dutch Doughnuts) and Apple Fritters

In the Netherlands, homemade oliebollen are served on New Year's Eve.

In the Netherlands, people don their aprons and get baking ready for the New Year. “In the late Middle Ages, it was customary to give poor people an oil cake or other tidbit to wish them a Happy New Year. From the middle of December, every shopping district has stalls selling Oliebollen. Many people also have a tradition of baking them at home, which they often do outdoors because nobody wants the smell in the house. Every year I enjoy baking Oliebollen for my family. It’s a beautiful tradition. There are even national competitions for the best Oliebollen. I may not have won yet, but I’m getting closer,” says Paul Vermeire from STILL Benelux.

China: Spirit Money

Burning joss paper - also called "spirit money" - is a traditional practice in Chinese culture, especially during the Lunar New Year.

In China, the New Year is not celebrated on January 1. Instead, the date is determined according to the traditional lunar calendar. This coming year, the Spring Festival falls on February 10. Families come together for dinner during the evening as part of a tradition that promises to bring good fortune, perfection, and reunion. Children receive red envelopes called “Spirit Money”, which signify safety and good health for the children in the New Year.

Ruoying Fu from KION APAC tells us all about a special custom in the southern province of Fujian. On the ninth day of the first month in the lunar calendar, people there honor the Jade Emperor, the supreme god of Taoism, whose birthday is considered to be even more important than New Year’s Day itself. In Fujian, this day marks a festival of thanksgiving.

Turkey: Pomegranate Smashing

In Turkey, it is customary to smash pomegranates for good luck in the coming year.

In Turkey, it is customary to smash pomegranates to bring good luck, prosperity, and fertility for the New Year. The higher the fruit bounces and the more seeds it spreads, the better the coming year will be.

For Letibe Yesim from STILL in Turkey, this tradition is an integral part of seeing in the New Year: “On New Year’s Eve, the whole family comes together to eat. It’s particularly important that there’s plenty of good food and good company. We pass the time playing cards and when midnight arrives, we smash a pomegranate at the door to bring abundance and prosperity. There are many customs out there, but this one is ours.”

Germany: Tin Casting

In Germany, pieces of tin are melted over a candle and the hot tin is then poured into cold water.

In Germany, “lead casting” has strong ties to New Year’s Eve for many families. This tradition dates back to Roman times, but today tin is used in place of toxic lead. Pieces of tin are melted over a candle and the hot tin is then poured into cold water. This creates the craziest shapes which, with a little imagination, are supposed to reveal something about what the New Year holds for the person pouring the molten tin. If, for example, the shape of the tin resembles an anchor, this is said to provide strong support in difficult situations.

Many other New Year’s Eve customs also exist, as illustrated by our colleague Rabea Burger from KION ITS EMEA: “We usually eat raclette on New Year’s Eve and watch ‘Dinner for One’ on TV. And then on January 1 we eat sauerkraut with cured pork, because there’s a saying that goes: ‘Whoever eats sauerkraut on January 1, won’t run out of money this year’,” she says.

Korea: Rice Cake Soup

In Spain, young and old eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. In the Netherlands, homemade oliebollen are served on New Year's Eve. In Turkey, it is customary to smash pomegranates for good luck in the coming year. Korean cake soup, or tteokguk in Korean, is eaten in Seoul on New Year's Eve.

The Korean New Year, known as Seollal, is celebrated on the first day of the lunar calendar, between January 21 and February 20. People traditionally eat tteokguk (rice cake soup), which is made from ingredients including rice cakes, meat, eggs, and stock. This is how Kara Song from Dematic in Atlanta (USA) marks the occasion.

India: Lunar and Solar Calendar

Fireworks at Marine drive, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India during Indian New year festival.

There are more than 40 different New Year customs in India. It's not just the way people celebrate that varies, but also the date. Vivek Pathak of KION India belongs to the Marathi community. He celebrates Gudhipadwa as their Marathi New Year, which happens to be around March. He names a few other New Year's days in India:

"Baisakhi symbolizes the Punjabi New Year, which is celebrated with the vibrant bhangra dance that celebrates the harvest season. Pohela Boisakh is a festive occasion marking the Bengali New Year, and Bohag Bihu welcomes the Assamese New Year. Sikkim celebrates Losoong as its new year, and Tamils, Telugus, and Malayalis participate in Puthandu, Ugadi, and Vishu, respectively, all rooted in harvest traditions. In addition, Muharram is celebrated by the Muslim community, Navroz by the Parsi community and Kartik Shukla Pratipada by the Jains." These all occur at different times of the year, but the common threads include festivals, cultural performances, decorations, and joyful gatherings during the harvest season.

In India, almost every region and religion celebrates a different day throughout the year. Sometimes it's the lunar calendar that plays a role, and sometimes it's the solar calendar. "January 1 is also celebrated here," says Vivek. "For us, the New Year is about finding a true sense of harmony."

Czech Republic: Apple Oracle

In the Czech Republic, it is a common tradition to cut an apple in half during New Year’s Eve dinner. If the core looks like a star, it is a sign for happiness and health.

In the Czech Republic, an apple oracle marks the arrival of a New Year. An apple is cut in half and the shape of the core is used to interpret a person’s fate. A cross, for example, is seen as a bad omen, signifying that the coming year could be unpleasant. But if the core is shaped like a star, happiness is just around the corner!

USA: Fireworks and Ice Bathing

On New Year's Day, people gather on the beach. Dressed in a variety of costumes, they all plunge into the icy sea at the same time.

In many US cities, fireworks at midnight mark the New Year in a spectacle that draws all the neighbors out of their homes. And Atlanta (Georgia), home to Chris Brothers from Dematic, is no exception. He says that when the clock strikes midnight, you give your loved ones a kiss and wish them good luck for the New Year!

Angus MacIver from KION North America in Charleston (South Carolina) is familiar with rather an ice-cold custom. On New Year’s Day morning, crowds of people gather on the beach to plunge into the ice-cold sea together, dressed in a wide variety of costumes.

The colorful diversity that characterizes our KION world is reflected in the personalities of our employees and in the distinct cultural customs of our many locations across the globe. No matter what tradition, where, and on what day you celebrate: We would like to wish you a very happy New Year!