Out with the old, in with the new! As 2018 winds down, it’s time to prepare for the new year ahead. What does the future hold? Many cultures have traditions that mark the start of the New Year where it’s time to begin on the right foot. While here in the US we pop champagne and make a list of resolutions to set the New Year straight, worldwide the holiday traditions vary widely. From talking to cattle to ringing bells, every culture has a way to summon good fortunes to the New Year.
Nothing like ringing in the New Year by breaking the dinnerware. In Denmark unused plates are saved all year until they find their true calling on New Year’s Eve. On the 31st people take their plates and shatter them against the homes and doors of their family and friends, starting the year off with good fortune and plenty of cleanup!
Some South American traditions hold that the color of your underwear at the start of the New Year can shape the way your fortunes unfold. You can let what you desire in your life shape your skivvies – white underwear brings peace, yellow underwear is worn for fortune and red underwear helps the owner find love.
Water from Your Window
A lucky New Year’s tradition that originated in Puerto Rico is based around throwing a bucket of water out your window. Look out below first though, so someone doesn’t start the New Year on a cold and soggy note. The water toss wards off evil and malevolent spirits so you can start the year without their shenanigans…just be sure you’re not tossing Baby New Year out with that bathwater!
Bread on The Wall
Say you run out of water but are still in search of future free of evil spirits? You could always hit your wall with a loaf of bread as is the tradition in Ireland. For whatever reason, the smack of the loaf against your wall clears the air for an upcoming year of good luck and friendly ghosts, while sending bad news packing.
Food or Coin?
Many cultures have traditions involving coins in food or, alternately, coin-like food. Black-eyed peas in the American South and grapes in Spain are both eaten on the new year to bring wealth. The small round size and shape of these foodstuffs represents coins and insures you can eat a lot of them. In the Philippines all round foods are given priority on New Year’s Eve because of their coin-like appearance. Some places also value a New Year’s meal of pancakes for their alluring coin-like shape. After all, in the U.S. they sometimes go by “silver dollars”.
Other cultures hide coins or small treasures in cakes and bread for hungry partiers to find. In a loaf or cake the person who gets the slice with the prize inside is destined for a lucky and auspicious year.
In Thailand, a pale paste called din sor pong made of native limestone is smeared across the face of revelers for Thai New Year celebrations, connoting good fortune for the year ahead. The excessive use of the clay-like paste has been blamed for gumming up city sewers in the days following New Year’s when the makeshift makeup gets washed down the drain.
Around the world and across cultures, eating and drinking together for the New Year seems to be something of an agreed upon way to beckon in a wonderful holiday. Parts of Asia use a meal of long noodles to symbolize longevity on Lunar New Year. Long-life noodles are prepared in a way that they are never broken while being cooked, usually as a stir fry.
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