How do you celebrate New Year’s Eve? Does it involve champagne, watching the ball drop at Times Square, or watching fireworks? Do you make resolutions or prepare special foods? Are there rituals you observe for good luck in the new year? People all around the world greet the new year with similar feelings: an attitude of celebration, hope for the best in the coming year, and resolve to make it the best year yet.
Here are some fun and interesting New Years superstitions & traditions that many believe will get 2014 off to a good start!
New Year Lucky Foods – so many New Year’s traditions and superstitions involve food – eating 12 grapes, black eye peas, pork, collard greens – there are so many New Year’s Lucky foods, so we gave it it’s own blog post! Here are a few of the lucky foods and traditions from around the world. You may also want to read our lucky food menu ideas from appetizers to desserts.
- In Greece many people smash a pomegranate right after midnight outside their front door. Why make this mess? Well they believe that the seeds will bring prosperity and good fortune. They also put a coin in a cake such as Vasilopita. The cake is cut at midnight and whoever gets the coin is said to have good luck in the New Year. The Greek often adorn tables with symbols of happiness and wealth including nuts, honey, fresh fruit and olive branches. Dating back to the 6th century BC, some hang a squill (or regular) onion on their front door to ward off bad spirits.
- In Italy many eat sausage, polenta and lentils. The New Year toast is usually with Prosecco or Spumante. Grapes, raisins and dried fruit decorate the table. They often give one another sweet gifts such as figs and dates in honey. Some Italians break plates or glasses in their driveway to get rid of any negative vibes around the home. Not practiced as often anymore, some Italians throw old items out the window to represent letting go of the past.
- In France, friends and loved ones exchange New Year’s resolutions, wishes and kisses. Foie gras, oysters, escargot and champagne are often served. Heart or log filled cakes are decorated with symbols that represent winter or good luck charms such as chocolate coins or bells. King’s cake (similar to the Vassilopita in Greece,) with a hidden coin or small ceramic figurine are served with a paper crown on top – the person who gets the filling gets to wear the crown for the day.
- In Germany it is said to bring good luck and health if you touch a chimney sweep or have him rub ashes on your forehead. Marzipan pig, sausages, sauerkraut, jam filled donuts called Berliner and Speckdicken (a pancake with sausage or bacon and syrup,) are usually on the menu.
- In Latin countries such as Spain, Costa Rica and Chile, they eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight and make a wish for each.
- In Denmark cured pork, boiled cod and stewed kale are served as well as Kransekage or wreath cake, a special dessert that consist of rings of cake piles on top of one another, each getting smaller until they form a cone or x-mas tree shape. The cake is made with egg whites, almonds and sugar.
Other popular New Year’s traditions and superstitions:
- Toast the new year with a glass of champagne. This is done in several countries around the world including the U.S., France, Germany, Belgium, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Put gold jewelry such as a ring into your champagne glass and drink up for wealth in the New Year (careful not to choke on your ring!) In some places they hop 3 times without spilling any champagne, and then pour it over their should to let go of the past year and begin the new one.
- A midnight kiss…the New Year’s Eve kiss is a symbol that your affection and closeness will last all year.
- Nothing taken out of the house the first day of the year – not even garbage, or it is said that you will be “losing” things all year.
- Make a lot of noise right after midnight (like banging together pots and pans) is said to help ward off evil spirits.
- Wearing yellow underwear attracts positive energy and a year of prosperity for the new year, while red underwear will bring a year of romance and passion. Blue underwear is said to bring a year of good health, green of a year of better luck that the previous year, white for a year of peace, joy and happiness, and pink for luck in love. In Italy they belied red underwear will bring you luck as well as make you fertile. (In Italy they throw away the underwear on January 2nd.) If you happen to have polka dots or circles on your underwear, even better as the round shape symbolizes coins/money. Oh yes, one more important fact that should go without saying – they need to be clean underwear.
- Write wishes on paper and burn them so they are fulfilled.
- Have cash in your wallet to bring more money in the new year – an empty wallet means cash flow problems all year. While on the subject of money, don’t loan any money out on New Year’s Day or it is believed you will be loaning things out all year.
- Sweeping the house just before midnight to get out all of the “negativity from the previous year.” In Japan after cleaning out their homes they hang bamboo sticks on the front door for prosperity. It’s also good luck to put clean sheets on the bed for New Year’s Eve. While we are on the subject of cleaning, No cleaning on New Year’s Day or you can clean out good luck. Don’t even take out the trash or do dishes, so make sure and stock up on paper plates!
- Open your window and doors for a few minutes shortly after midnight to let out the old year and allow the new one in.
- Chinese believe that using knives, scissors or anything sharp on New Year’s Day is bad luck as you will “cut off” the New Year’s fortune.
- Anos Viejos. In Ecuador, people make effigies of straw, newspaper, old clothes and paper mache. These are called Anos Viejos, or Old Years, and are meant to represent people or events from the past year. In some cases, these effigies are stuffed with firecrackers. The tradition is to light the effigies on fire at midnight, as a way of shedding the old year and welcoming in the new.
- In Mexico they decorate their homes in different colors with a particular goal in mind – yellow is for blessings of improvement employment, white for better health, red for an overall improvement in lifestyle and love, or green for better financial circumstances in the coming year.
- Some cultures believe the first person to step into your house on New Years can make or break your luck. It should be a loved one with good intentions – a child is a good option as they are pure of heart. Oh yes – and the first step into the home should be with the right foot.
- Flipping open a new calendar with it’s 12 unmarked months, is perhaps one of the most universally hopeful acts…representing a clean slate, or new start.
The list goes on and on, with the same hopes of “out with the old and in with the new.” The traditions may be different, but the celebration and excitement of the new year is the same in many places around the world. Every group has special traditions that bring meaning to their new year celebrations. Do you have any special traditions for New Year’s Eve that you’ll be including in your celebration this year?
I found two things you may want to try – one was to put your luggage outside your front door on New Years Eve and leave it there overnight.
The other was to walk with a packed suitcase or back pack around the block – both are said to ensure travel in the new year.
We wish you all a healthy, happy and prosperous 2014!
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