New Year in Albania

January 8th 2024 in Celebration
New Year in Albania

New Year’s table of prosperity

New Year’s Eve is a much-awaited occasion in Albania, even more significant than Christmas. It is celebrated with a grand feast comprising several dishes served on a table where the entire family comes together. This is a particular time to reunite with family members, including those who live abroad.

This tradition of family celebration is still followed by young people today. They usually celebrate with their families until midnight and then go out with their friends to clubs, where they dance and celebrate until the early morning hours of the first day of the year.

The History

The tradition of celebrating on the 31st of December with family and friends has its roots in the Communist era. During this time, all religious gatherings were banned, including Christmas. As a result, New Year’s Eve became an important non-religious holiday and served as a substitute for the missing Christmas celebration. This tradition has continued to this day, and many people still view the holiday as a time of reunion and celebration with loved ones.

Here are some traditional Albanian dishes that should be included on the New Year’s table

On New Year’s Eve, it is customary to have a rich table with plenty of meat, salads, sweets, and drinks to symbolize the desired prosperity for the upcoming year. A unique tradition on this holiday is proposing toasts to honour specific family members and relatives throughout the dinner. Usually, there is one toast at the beginning of the dinner and midnight.

The following are the most typical dishes served on New Year’s Eve:

Roasted Turkey:

This is the main dish, accompanied by grits (crushed soda bread poured into turkey juice). Additionally, beef, lamb, or pork baked or grilled are often served.


This sweet and flavorful dessert, made with walnuts or dry fruits, is the delight of the New Year’s Eve dinner. Traditionally, homemakers prepare it some days before the event, following an old recipe passed down from generation to generation. Nowadays, it is also often bought ready-made.


Although alcoholic beverages like wine and beer are standard drinks on this festive night, Rakia, the traditional drink, still holds a special place, especially for the older generation. The most common form of Raki is made of grapes, and the liquor has always been part of important ceremonies and holds a special status in Albania.

Who gets the “lek” in the pie or soda bread?

On the 1st of January, preparing a pie or soda bread and hiding a coin (one Albanian lek) in it is a unique tradition. The pie or soda bread is then divided into pieces, one for each family member, plus an extra portion that symbolically belongs to the house. The pieces are picked randomly, and whoever gets the coin is said to have a good year. If the coin is found in the part of the house, then all the family members will have a lucky year. This is a unique tradition that is practised in Albania.

Who enters the home first?

A persistent tradition is associated with the first person who enters a home in the New Year. According to tradition, the year will go well if a little boy enters the house first. It is also important to enter with the right foot first.

In Albania, New Year’s Eve celebrations continue until the 1st of January. On the 2nd and 3rd of January, many relatives visit each other, enjoy delicious food, and celebrate this joyful and beautiful event.