Kooky New Year customs

December 16, 2015

New-Year-customsWe do them, but do we know why we do?

Our traditional midnight kiss is meant to bring good luck to the relationship so affection and warmth remain all year. We eat black-eyed peas and lentils to bring good fortune because they’re said to resemble coins, and pork because pigs root forward, the direction we want our lives to take in the new year.

But I found a few other interesting customs, you might want to adopt. Some are fun, some are kooky and some just plain dangerous.

Underwear color dictates the year

Wear red underwear on New Year’s eve to find your soulmate in some parts of Latin America, so break out that red bra. But if you’re in Colombia, wearing yellow underwear brings happiness and peace; in Puerto Rico it’s white for fertility and health. Green underwear brings money. Pick your wish. Maybe rainbow undies?

Forget Craigslist: toss it

A relatively new custom in parts of South Africa was to toss old furniture out windows and off balconies on New Year’s Eve.  This dangerous practice was stopped by police in Johannesburg after a refrigerator hit someone.

Danes save old dishes, break them and stack them in front of their doors. That’s so they can be thrown on their friend’s doors during the new year to symbolize friendship.  It’s said that the house with the most dishes out front has the most friends.  (Yeah, not sure this is a good idea. And speaking of bad ideas, some Danes leap chairs at midnight. Can you imagine doing that after having a few? Nothing good could come of it.)

Banging bread

The Irish chase out any bad spirits or bad luck by banging bread on the walls and doors to welcome good spirits to the premises. I don’t think they mean a loaf of Wonder bread.

Peppermint ice cream

Austrians believe eating this brings good fortune. And the need to go to the gym. Suckling pigs are also on the menu for good luck. See the part about the gym.

Grapes not in wine form

The custom in Spain is to eat 12 grapes at midnight for good luck one for each month of the new year. In fact, chimes are broadcast on TV to signal when to eat the next grape. Apparently the pace isn’t slow, so it’s recommended to pick tiny, seedless grapes. Because choking to death is not good luck.

Pick your first guest carefully

The English tradition has to do with the belief that the first guest in the New Year brings luck. In the sexist way of the world, he’s got to be male, he should come in through the front door and have in hand traditional gifts like bread for the kitchen, booze for the head of the family and — get this–coal to light the fire. If not, well, the door is barred.

It’s believed that these bring good luck throughout the year. So maybe you want to invite that rich great uncle for breakfast.

China: it’s all about red

In China, all front doors are painted red, the color that signifies happiness and good luck. Knives are hidden that day, so good fortune isn’t cut.

Priestesses and sacrificial boats

Brazilian priestesses wear blue and white costumes on New Year’s Eve and take part in s big ceremony in honor of the water goddess. A ceremonial boat filled with candles, flowers and jewelry is pushed to the ocean. It’s thought that the ceremony will bring health, wealth and happiness in the new year. (Just don’t send your mother’s heirloom jewelry out to sea.)

Crank up the heater & lock up the dog

Some people open all their doors and windows to let the old year’s bad experiences out and bring fresh air of the New Year in.

If you love travel

Walk out the door with your luggage open and welcome lots of new travel in the new year.

Got a horse?

Good luck all year round comes from sleeping  with a horseshoe under the pillow on New Year’s Eve.

The cold plunge of reality

Some Germans jump into lakes as cold as six degrees Celsius, carrying torches to celebrate the new year. I’m not sure how much luck it brings them.

So that’s it. Pick your poison. You’ve got plenty of time to plan.

29 comments on “Kooky New Year customs
  1. Robin Rue (@massholemommy) says:

    I love hearing about what other people do in other cultures. Peppermint ice cream, huh?

  2. Barbara says:

    Fortunately, I don’t believe in luck, but it was fun to read this.

  3. Carla says:

    I may just need to seize that first guest one 🙂
    the mother-in-law would like to come after the new year. It will have to be after after after the new year.

  4. Beth Havey says:

    Fascinating. It is amazing what humans do when they ponder change! No way I’m going to sleep with a horseshoe. Thanks, Carol!

  5. I bet you could have fun mixing some of these up, like wearing red underwear (and nothing else) while banging a loaf of bread against the wall when a gift-bearing guy walks through the door. Just sayin’. Fun post!

  6. andi says:

    so call me an old fogey then – my new year’s custom will probably be watching a bit of HSN, and then going to bed before 10PM….

  7. Sheryl says:

    What a fun post to read! I’ll go for the opening of the windows…unless it’s too cold, then I’ll have to pick another. Red nailpolish might be a safe bet…or I can just paint my door, instead of my nails.

  8. Accidental Blogger says:

    Very entertaining! I’m going to go buy a multi pack of undies and hedge my bets!

  9. Kim says:

    This was a fun post to read, and in looking forward to New Year’s Eve and day. I plan to wear black, and not sure regarding undergarment colour… maybe I will go commando!!!
    Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

  10. Liz Mays says:

    As much peppermint ice cream as I eat at this time of year, I ought to be busting it up with good luck! This post was fun to read!

  11. I used to tell my daughters that for every black-eyed pea they ate on New Year’s Day, they’d have a great day in the new year. They pretty much ignored me, figuring they’d rather suffer through bad days than bad bites o’ peas.

    The Irish one sounds like a good one! I just may start that this year.

    Fun post!

  12. Elizabeth O. says:

    It’s always fun to welcome the New Year your way! Thanks for the list, I enjoyed reading it!

  13. Ever since I was a kid we’ve eaten pork and sauerkraut with mashed potatoes on New Year’s Day for good luck. I thought it was a Slovak tradition, but I think it comes from the Northeast. I’d say I’ve been a pretty lucky gal, so I guess it works!

  14. I will definitely be wearing my rainbow underwear! I think I have the luggage one messed up. We open our pocketbooks under the moon:)

  15. Can I just optimistically wear rainbow underwear and carry my luggage around ? Lol I love that you shared these!

  16. MyTeenGuide says:

    It’s nice to know how other cultures welcome the new year. We prepare 12 round fruits and put it on the table on New Year’s eve. It’s believed to bring luck, too.

  17. Julia says:

    The banging bread one honestly made me laugh out loud – what an unusual yet awesome way to ring in the new year!

  18. Angie Scheie says:

    This was so much fun! I learned a lot, love your wit in writing, and now just have to decide which tradition to incorporate!

  19. Cori says:

    This was a really informational and educational post. Thanks!

  20. Linda Hobden says:

    Great fun traditions. I was in Tenerife in the Canary Islands over the New Year (welcoming in 1987) and the 12 grapes for each chime was practiced. It is extremely difficult to eat the 12 grapes in time to the chimes …

  21. How fascinating and fun!!!

  22. Gary says:

    Off to the store to clean out any green boxers I can find! Throwing furniture off of balconies, that is freaking insane!

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