HAPPY NEW YEAR, Y’ALL!
Folks, it is that time again. Time to rip the last page off the calendar and bid farewell to 2015. New Year’s is a very big deal – the biggest deal – around our house. The following are some traditions and superstitions my family observes, in our own particular fashion. I bet there is something here you already practice, or at the very least, have heard of. Whatever the case, here’s wishing you the best year yet!
NEW YEAR’S EVE
- PAYING OFF BILLS – We pay off all of our bills. The point of this is to keep debt from following us into the New Year.
- WALLET STUFFING – We make sure there is at least twenty dollars cash money in each of our wallets. This ensures we have money in the coming year.
- CLEANING AND PURGING – We clean and purge the house of dirt and unneeded items. To many, this is just good spiritual practice, but it also sets us up for the observance of some of our other New Year’s superstitions. (Here also is a chance to get those last-minute tax write-offs for donated goods!)
- KISSING AT MIDNIGHT – We always kiss someone we love at midnight. We do this to ensure an abundance of affection in the coming year. (Pets are also a source of affection, so we do not leave them out!)
- DOOR OPENING – We open the back door at midnight to let out the old year.
- FIRST-FOOTING – We then answer the front door and greet our “first-footer.” “First-footing” is all about how the first person who enters your home in the New Year sets the tone for and influences the coming year. For the best of luck, this person should be tall, dark, and good-looking and carrying symbolic items like bread, salt, coal, greenery, or a coin. For us, this superstition serves double-duty – it generally influences the New Year for the positive, but it also ensures that people and things first come into the house on the New Year, indicating gain, as opposed to the opposite, which would indicate loss.
- NOISY TREE DANCING – Once we have greeted the “first-footer,” and he has made his way through and out of the house, we meet him outside to dance and yell around our oak tree. The noise we make scares away the evil spirits, the dancing around the tree ensures good health, and the behaving like fools ensures lightheartedness and laughter in the New Year.
NEW YEAR’S DAY
- NO CLEANING – We do not do any kind of washing or sweeping (or cleaning, in general) until Jan 2nd. The intent behind this superstition is to prevent “washing away” or “sweeping away” a loved one in the coming year. In other words, we do this to prevent the loss of a loved one through relocation, quarrels, or heaven-forbid, death.
- NOTHING LEAVES THE HOUSE – In addition, nothing leaves the house on New Year’s Day (not even trash) and we try not to pay for or lend anything. The thought again is to prevent loss – in this case, it would be loss of possessions or financial resources. We say, “Pay on New Year’s Day, pay all year long.”
- EATING LUCKY – We eat black-eyed peas, greens, pork, and cornbread. See here for additional details on “Eating Lucky”: New Year’s Food Superstitions
- DOING THE POSITIVE – We try to do a little of something of what we want to be doing the rest of the year. For example, those who wish to remain gainfully employed during the year do a little something work-related. It does not need to be some grand project, just a token amount of work to ensure that the year will be productive and prosperous. We will also make a point of being happy, laughing and joking, relaxing, trying new things, and spending time with loved ones and friends.
- AVOIDING THE NEGATIVE – Conversely, we avoid whatever it is we do not want to do the rest of the year. We try not to cry, be depressed, fight, or break anything so as not to invite more of the same in the days ahead. (I swear, the one year I was hanging up a coat and the hanger broke, it seemed like everything was breaking down left and right the rest of the year!)
If you would like to learn a little about how New Year’s is celebrated in Scotland, as well as the practice of “first-footing,” this is a cool little video for doing so. Cheers!
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