New Year’s usually brings several traditions with it. The traditional “toast” at midnight for good luck is almost a universal tradition. Many parts of the globe have a ritual of eating certain foods:
- Pork. The expression “high on the hog” refers to the choice cuts of pork, those from the loin, shoulder and upper leg, long reserved for the elite. The lower parts were reserved for the poor. Because of their abundance of fat, it is associated with wealth and prosperity.
- Lentils. Italians eat lentils on New Year’s for wealth and prosperity because the flat legumes were believed to resemble Roman coins.
- Soba noodles. In Japan, they signify long life, but only if you eat them without breaking or chewing them. Slurp these long noodles in one piece for a good long life, or at the very least, a very tasty meal.
- Black–eyed peas. There are several different thoughts on why black–eyed peas have come to symbolize good luck. In America, the prevailing folklore dates back to the Civil War era, when black–eyed peas, also known as field peas, were used to feed grazing cattle. During the Siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi in the late spring of 1863, the town was cut off from all food supplies for nearly two months. The people were close to starvation and resorted to eating the crops previously reserved for feeding their livestock. If it weren’t for the lowly “cowpeas” (as they’re also known) many people wouldn’t have survived. Lucky or resourceful, those folks created one tasty tradition!
- Greens…greenbacks…moola? Makes sense. Leafy greens resemble folded paper money symbolizing wealth and prosperity. Pair them with black–eyed peas and ham for a truly Southern New Year’s tradition (both high on the luck spectrum) and triple your luck for the year.
In other traditions:
It was believed that pantries stocked up with food, wallets and purses that were filled with money would bring prosperity in the New Year. On the other hand, empty pantries and pockets would mean a year of poverty.
Pay your bills and loans before New Year’s Eve, so you don’t have any debt left to haunt you in the New Year (generally a good idea).
In a few cultures, washing dishes and doing laundry on New Year’s Day could foretell a death in the family during the year (let’s face it; who gets out of their jammies on NYD?)
Here’s something unique: One must never leave the home before someone comes in first. First footer should be welcomed warmly; but should not have flat feet, cross eyes or a uni-brow. It would be even better if he (or she) came bearing gifts.
Now that we’ve shared traditions, here’s some suggested new traditions to kick off your New Year:
- Write A Wish List For The New Year
A lista de deseos should be your roadmap in the coming year.
Similar to the widely practiced tradition of making a list of “New Year’s Resolutions,” a “lista de deseos” (wish list) for the new year should include all those goals you’re hoping to reach next year (not those less tangible wishes like “finding the one” or “world peace.”) Whatever it is that you put on your list make sure to also write how you plan to meet those goals or help realize those dreams.
Then, fold it in half and after the clock strikes twelve read it to yourself. Keep it and refer back to it throughout the year.
- 12 New Months, 12 Wishes, 12 Grapes
As you prepare to countdown to the New Year, make sure you have a plate of grapes close by.
But this is no midnight snack. Before (or during) the hugs and kisses that ensue after the new year begins, make sure to eat 12 grapes, representing the 12 months of the new year, while making a wish for every month/grape that you have.
But beware! Get a sour grape and that could mean a bad month is in store for you. Also, many believe the grapes must be consumed within the first 12 minutes of the new year — or else…
- Run Around The Block With Luggage
This is one of the more cheeky things to do at New Year’s:
If travel is what you’re looking for in the New Year all you have to do is run around your block (or up and down your stairs) with your luggage in hand. But be careful, empty bags won’t get you far. You should pack objects that represent the type of locations you’d like to visit. Place swim trunks in your luggage if you’d like to travel to the beach, a passport if you want to go abroad, or ski gear if you want to hit the slopes.
- Money In Hand When The Clock Hits 12!
Before the clock strikes twelve put your drink down and grab some bills (preferably from your own wallet). Having money in your hand at midnight is meant to ensure economic prosperity in the New Year.
Keep in mind that holding a $100 bill will give you better results than a $1 bill.
Start Off On The RIGHT foot
There’s nothing like starting the year off on the right foot…literally.
As you’re counting down the final seconds of the year, making sure only your right foot is firmly on the ground can bring you good luck in the New Year. If you ever see someone doing a flamingo stance just at the New Year arrives, then it’s likely they are keen to this New Year’s Eve superstition.