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New Years Eve Drinking Traditions From Around the World. 

Updated: Apr 12

a globe titled new years eve drinking traditions around the world

The tradition of drinking a glass of Champagne at the stroke of midnight is a ritual that dates back hundreds of years to France. Champagne, which became popularized in the 1600’s by Benedictine monk Dom Perignon, was first consumed at treaty signings, coronation ceremonies and other luxurious events. In the 1900’s as Champagne production became more wide-spread (after the invention of the cork) producers, especially those in the Champagne region of France, engaged in effective marketing to position their product as the beverage of choice for celebrations. The unique popping sound of a champagne cork and the festive bubbles contributed to its allure and from there, Champagne became the drink of choice to ring in the New Year in countries around the world. 

While some cultures have made their own spin on the champagne tradition, other peoples have their own unique drinking traditions on New Years Eve. Here the YYCTOURS Calgary Craft Tours team breaks down some of the ways other countries welcome the New Year and things to come. 

Japanese Otoso New years eve


O-toso is a traditional Japanese New Year's custom involving the consumption of a special spiced sake called "toso” which is believed to have been drunk by Emperor Saga, Japan’s 52nd emperor, who reigned in the 9th century. Drinking O-toso for New Year celebrations was an integral part of Imperial court celebrations for hundreds of years, before becoming more widespread during the subsequent Edo period (1603 – 1868). This ritual is believed to bring good health and ward off illness for the upcoming year. O-toso is typically consumed on New Year’s day, and it holds cultural significance in Japan.

It's important to note that customs and traditions can vary between regions and families in Japan, so the specifics of O-toso rituals may differ, or may no longer exist at all. Overall, O-toso is a meaningful and symbolic way for people in Japan to welcome the New Year with a focus on health and well-being.

Here's a brief overview of the O-toso tradition:

  • Toso Preparation: Toso is a medicinal sake prepared by combining different herbs and spices. The specific ingredients may vary, but common additions include cinnamon, rhubarb, sansho (Japanese pepper), and other herbs believed to have health benefits.

  • Glassware- Traditionally served in three stacking glasses called Sakazuki.

  • Family Ritual: O-toso is often prepared and consumed within the family. The head of the household or an elder typically leads the ritual. The sake is poured into small cups, and family members or guests gather to participate. In other regions, the youngest member of the family starts and then passes the sakazuki to the next eldest.

  • Warding off Evil Spirits: O-toso is believed to have the power to purify and ward off evil spirits and illnesses. By consuming it, people hope to start the year with good health and positive energy.

For more about O-Toso visit Japan Sake 

Cava drinking on New years eve in Spain


Cava is a sparkling wine from Spain, primarily produced in the Catalonia region. The word Cava is Catalan for Cave.  Cava is typically made from a blend of native Spanish grape varieties. The most common grape varieties used in cava production include Macabeo, Xarel·lo, and Parellada while Pinot Noir, Garnacha, or Monastrell grapes are used in the production of Rosé cavas

In Spain, it is a tradition to celebrate the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve with a glass of cava and by adding gold coins, rings,  flakes or leaf to the beverages for special occasions as a symbol of luxury and celebration. One drinks the entire glass and then retrieves the gold without swallowing it for good luck. This practice is not unique to Spain and can be found in various cultures around the world. Gold is considered a precious metal, and its inclusion in food and drinks is often associated with opulence and festivities.

hogmanay New years eve scotland


Hogmanay is the Scottish term for the celebration of New Year's Eve and the festivities that take place in Scotland on December 31st. The term "Hogmanay" itself has uncertain origins, but it is believed to have roots in the French word "hoguinane" or the Anglo-Saxon "haleg monath," both of which refer to the month of December.

Hogmanay is a significant event in Scottish culture, and it is celebrated with various traditions and customs. The most well-known Scottish New Years Eve tradition is called "first-footing." The first person to enter a home after the stroke of midnight is known as the "first-footer" who typically brings symbolic gifts, such as scotch whisky to wish the household good fortune for the coming year. It is considered especially good luck if the first-footer is a tall, dark-haired man. 

To learn more about Scotland and its traditions, check out the Visit Scotland website.

Russian tradition of burning paper on new years eve


Burning wishes or resolutions is a tradition observed in various cultures around the world and not entirely exclusive to Russia. The act of burning wishes or resolutions often symbolizes letting go of the past, purifying oneself, and expressing a commitment to a new beginning. In the context of Russian New Year's Eve celebrations, people may engage in a tradition which involves writing down a wish on a piece of paper, burning it when the countdown begins, and then either consuming the ashes or dispersing them in the wind before the stroke if midnight. The belief is that by doing so, the wish will be carried into the universe, increasing the chances of it coming true. As the Russian saying goes, "The way you spend New Year’s Eve is the same way you’ll spend the rest of the year."

It's important to note that while burning wishes is a meaningful tradition for many, the specific rituals and beliefs associated with it can vary widely across different cultures and regions. The practice is generally a personal and symbolic way for individuals to mark the transition into the new year with hope, positivity, and a sense of purpose.


Canadian beer on New years eve

Just kidding.


Please do not drink and drive slogan

YYCTOURS is a Calgary, Alberta based company that offers free education on all things craft libation, along with specialty curated tours throughout Alberta such as the Calgary brewery tour which is available year round. Be sure to follow YYCTOURS on social media and to check their blog often. 

Happy New Year

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