Monday, December 29, 2008

New Year Superstitions

“There is superstition in avoiding superstitions.” – Francis Bacon, Sr.

January 1st officially became the first day of a new year in 46 B.C. when Julius Caesar established the Julian calendar. This has allowed ample time for celebration traditions to develop and perhaps explains why so many are based on superstitions.

A German New Year tradition is to attempt to tell the future by dropping molten lead into cold water. A heart or ring shape indicates a wedding; a ship means a journey; and a pig is a sign of plenty of food in the year ahead. Leaving a bit of every food eaten on New Year’s Eve on your plate until after midnight is another custom to ensure a well-stocked pantry.

In England, the practice of "first-footing" is important. To ensure good luck for the inhabitants of a house, the first person to enter on New Year's Day should be a young, healthy and good-looking male with dark-hair. He should carry a small piece of coal, money, bread and salt, symbolizing wealth. Women and people with blonde or red hair are considered unlucky "first-footers."

In Spain people eat twelve grapes from a bunch just as the clock strikes twelve on New Year's Eve to ensure twelve happy months in the coming year.

In Scandinavian rice pudding is considered a lucky dish. It is usually prepared with a hidden almond placed in the serving bowl. Who ever ends up with the almond in his or her serving is believed to be doubly blessed with good fortune in the coming year.

Here in the U.S, we incorporate many of the traditions from around the world plus adding a few of our own in the observance of New Year. Kissing a loved one at midnight ensures another happy year with that person. Eating black eye peas on New Years brings luck. Horns and noise makers at midnight chase evil spirits away. Opening a door or window at midnight allows the old year to escape unimpeded.

Do you ring in the New Year by observing the standard customs, new family traditions, both, or neither?

By the way, I read that for authors to have a successful year they should write one chapter of a book on New Years Day. However, working or writing too much can be bad omen, so don’t over do it.

However you celebrate, I hope 2009 brings you good health, happiness and prosperity.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tags: Francis Bacon, Caesar, Julian calendar, first-footing, New Year traditions, superstitions

1 comment:

Sondra said...

We did the 12 grapes when we lived in Spain. 1 grape for each chime of the clock at midnight...it was hysterical! Very hard to do too especially by about the 6th chime! :)
My husbands Irish family's tradition is, right before midnight everyone goes outside (leaving the front door open) and stands in the front yard, Happy New year and kisses all around and then the man of the house goes around the house and opens all the out side doors. Everyone joins with him when he makes it back to the front door and as a group travel around the house and closes all the open doors the re-enters through the front door together.

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