We 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.)
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.