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New Years’ Money Customs around the World

03 Jan 2017

New Year’s comes but once a year, but for many people, it is a celebration more exciting than Christmas and full of tradition. Here is our brief but insightful run-down on festive New Year’s traditions around the world.

Let’s start in…


On New Year’s Day, Japanese people follow the custom of Otoshidama, the giving of money to children. The age of the child has a direct bearing on the size of the cash gift, but to avoid hurting feelings, if there’s more than one child in the family, the amount is often the same. The tradition involves handing the child a small, decorated envelope called a Pochibukuro, similar to China’s Hongbāo and Scotland’s Handsel. Some Japanese children receive in excess of  ¥10,000, that’s here.

A little closer to home…


Scotland follows the tradition of First Footing, supposed to bring good luck to people for the coming year. As midnight falls and January 1st begins, people used to wait behind their doors for a dark haired person to arrive. The visitor carried a piece of coal, bread, money and some greenery. All items were intended to bring good luck to the household - Coal to make sure the house would always be warm, Bread so the occupants had enough to eat through the year, Money to stay solvent and provide for your loved ones and a spot of Greenery, intended to signify and encourage long life.

Finally, the visitor takes a pan of dust or ashes out of the house with him/her, signifying the departure of the old year. One would hope that after the visitor has paid their dues they are allowed back in from the cold and given a hot toddy (warm alcoholic beverage).


The Greeks celebrate the Feast of Saint Basil or Protochronia, an originator of the Greek Orthodox Church. Modern Greece embraces the best of the old and the new, by following ancient traditions and mixing-in some future fun. Children carol singers go from door-to-door, as you might see at Christmas in the UK, and receive a coin for their efforts. 

Other traditional activities include card and dice playing, along with Kalo Podariko (First Footing), just like their Northern friends, the Scots. The first person through your door is believed to determine the level and type of good luck you will enjoy throughout the New Year. Right foot first. 


Like most other European countries, Germany enjoys New Years with fireworks, the occasional bier and one might imagine, a hearty handshake. Traditionally, the peoples of Germany would eat fish as their evening meal on New Year’s Eve and keep a scale from the devoured Carp in their purse. The hope was and is that the scale would bring luck enough to earn a good wage in the year to come. Lentils were also believed to bring good luck, because they resemble coins. 

If you know of or enjoy any other New Year’s customs/traditions, we’d love to hear from you.

Have a wonderful and fruitful New Year from everyone here at eurochange.
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