During lockdowns and working from home indefinitely, the small, unplanned moments like a friendly comment in the hallway or a chat at the coffee machine are hard to come by. The new year offers the perfect occasion to encourage your work colleagues and show your appreciation with wishes for the future.
You can make your new year’s wishes especially personal by saying them in your international colleagues’ own languages, or even being aware that not all cultures celebrate the new year on the same day. These small gestures contribute to an open, positive team atmosphere and bring back the social aspect that so many dearly miss.
Not sure what to say? Here's how to wish your colleagues from around the world a Happy New Year!
And here are typical new year’s greetings and traditions in 18 different languages and cultures:
- French: Bonne année !
New Year’s in France isn’t celebrated with fireworks, instead it’s a culinary event with foie gras, oysters, and champagne.
- Spanish: ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!
A typical New Year’s tradition in Spain is to eat 12 grapes right at midnight — one for each stroke of the clock. To reduce the risk of choking, you can buy canned, peeled grapes just for this purpose.
- Portuguese: Feliz Ano Novo!
Brazil has a number of unusual New Year’s traditions. One of them is sucking on seven pomegranate seeds, which is meant to bring prosperity.
- Italian: Buon Anno!
In Italy, wearing red underwear is meant to bring luck in love. And a rich meal of lentils on New Year’s guarantees happiness.
- Turkish: Mutlu yıllar! / İyi Yıllar!
There are a number of New Year’s customs in Turkey that are meant to ensure happiness and prosperity. That includes wearing red underwear, turning on all the faucets in the house, and opening and closing all the locks right before midnight.
- Russian: С Новым годом! (S nóvym godom)
This greeting can be translated literally as “To the new year.” In Russia, the holiday follows the Julian calendar instead of the Gregorian calendar, which is why New Year’s is celebrated on January 13.
- Polish: Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku!
If you want to say this greeting out loud, it’s pronounced more or less like this: [shcheyshlivego novego roku]. The “r” is rolled, and the “o” is pronounced like in “often.”
- Arabic: كل عام وأنتم بخير (Kol a'am va antom bikhayr)
Translated literally, this greeting means “May the whole year go well for you.” The Islamic New Year follows the Islamic calendar and happens in 2022 on July 29-30.
- Hebrew: שנה טובה (Shana tova!)
The Jewish new year holiday is called Rosh Hashanah (ראש השנה) and happens in 2022 on September 25-27. One tradition is eating symbolic food such as honey, in the hopes that the new year will be sweet.
- Mandarin: 新年快乐！(Xīn nián kuài lè!)
Since Mandarin is a tonal language, the pitch and direction of the tone (marked with accents) changes the meaning of the words — if you get the tones wrong, you might congratulate your colleagues on their beliefs instead of wishing them a happy new year. Chinese New Year in 2022 is celebrated on February 1.
- Dutch: Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!
In the Netherlands (and Belgium), New Year’s celebrations are also celebrated with family and friends drinking champagne and watching fireworks. Pronunciation tip: “g” in Dutch is pronounced like the German “ch” in “Bach” or the Scottish “ch” in “Loch Ness.”
- Swedish: Gott nytt år!
Festive clothing is a must on New Year’s in Sweden. Pronunciation tip: The “a” with a circle is pronounced like “o” in “open.”
- Norwegian: Godt nytt år!
Similar to English, New Year’s in Norway is known as Nyttårsaften (new year’s evening) and January 1 is Nyttårsdag (new year’s day).
- Danish: Godt nytår!
Written down, the Danish New Year’s greeting is almost identical to Norwegian and Swedish, but the pronunciation is much softer, something like [godd newdo].
- Greek: Ευτυχισμένο το νέο έτος! (Eftikhisméno to néo étos)
Whether playing cards or dice, at home or in a casino — New Year’s is spent gambling, often all night long. If you win, custom says you’ll have luck all year, and if you lose, you can still hope for luck in love.
- Indonesian: Selamat Tahun Baru!
New Year’s is celebrated twice in Indonesia: once on January 1 and once on the Hindu holiday, which following the Balinese moon calendar takes place during the spring equinox.
- Persian: سال نو مبارک (Sale no mobarak)
In the Persian cultural sphere, the New Year’s holiday is known as Nouruz and is also celebrated on spring equinox on March 20 or 21. Seven dishes are prepared, all starting with “s.”
A new year is not only a great opportunity to create awareness for multilingualism in your team, but also a good occasion to develop personally and professionally by learning a new language. With Babbel for Business, you and your team learn language flexibly and individually in a business context. The many features of the language learning platform, extensive additional material as well as optional group video lessons offer the chance to learn as a team and support each other as colleagues — bringing that social togetherness to everyday work life.
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