WEST PALM BEACH, Florida, December 31, 2012 – New Year’s is ripe with traditions and superstitions, some well-known and others obscure.
Most American’s are familiar with the kiss at midnight on New Years. The purpose of kissing a loved one at midnight is to bring good luck to the relationship for the next year. If you do not kiss the one you love at midnight, superstition says your upcoming year will lack affection.
Prosperity, or inviting prosperity, is a major theme around New Year’s. Pork is a lucky food for New Year’s day because pigs root forward when they eat. As a corollary, eating poultry on New Year’s Day sentences the diner to poverty, because they will have to scratch in the dirt like chicken for money all year. Southerners believe eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day brings fortune, while others believe lentil soup is lucky. You should stock your pantry before the New Year, to invite continued prosperity, and do not carry any debt forward into the New Year.
The belief in “First Footing” means that the first person to enter the home after midnight will determine the type of year the dwellers are going to have. The best luck comes to homes whose “first footer” – the first person to arrive after midnight – is tall, dark and handsome. The superstition specifically states it should be a tall male with dark hair who is handsome and, ideally, bringing gifts. Not that it is a bad recipe for any day of the year, but it is particularly lucky on New Year’s. A blond or redhead will bring bad luck and a female “first footer” spells disaster. An additional rule warns that the first-footer should not be cross-eyed or have a unibrow.
There are contradictory beliefs about work. On the one hand, it is lucky to accomplish something related to your career on New Year’s Day, to set the stage for the rest of the year. On the other hand, too much work on the first of the year is unlucky. Washing, including dishes or clothes, could lead to the death of a family member in the new year.
Nothing is to leave the house on New Year’s Day, according to some traditions. Under this ruling, people can come and go, but possessions cannot leave the house. Even garbage must remain inside until the second day of the year. An adjustment to this tradition is allowing things to leave the house only in parallel to items coming into the house.
Some families list regrets from the previous year and burn them at midnight to erase them forever. They also write wishes for the next year on a piece of paper and “plant” them in the ground so they will grow.
Every family, region and country has it’s on tradition. Brazilians often wear blue skirts and white blouses and launch a boat laden with flowers to celebrate the goddess of water; Buddhists squirt water on each other as ceremonial cleansing; Dutch burn Christmas trees to drive out spirits of the old year; South Africans ring bells and fire guns; in Taiwan, they thank ancestors for blessings and protection.
However you spend your New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, be safe, happy and prosperous!