Wednesday 31 December 2014

New Year Traditions: What to Wear, Eat and Do

New York Graffiti on Rock on the Shore of the Hudson, 2014
What makes a good year? Can anything we do influence the year to come, apart from what we actually do in that year? I've heard about everything from the colour of your underwear deciding your future success to what you eat, whether its 12 grapes, lentils or hitting a loaf of bread against the walls or what old furniture you throw out your window.

There is an abundance of traditions around the world which focus on what you wear, eat and do and are all about trying to prevent or ward off the negative and promote and welcome the positive. Not a bad idea, how it's executed isn't always easy to understand but there is nothing wrong with a new start.

What can we do?

Wear the right clothes (more specifically – the correct colour underwear):
  1. S. America – Red for Love, Gold for prosperity ***/++
  2. Columbia – Yellow for Happiness and peace***
  3. Puerto Rico – White for fertility and health***

Eat (or don't eat) the right food:
  1. China: Eat long noodles for longevity/long-life*
  2. Greece/Philippines: Eat round food like donuts in Greece and 13 round fruit for luck in Philippines ++/*
  3. Turkey: Eat Pomegranate for health and prosperity as it looks like a heart*
  4. Italy/Chile: Eat lentils as symbols of abundance and coins*/***
  5. Spain, South America & Mexico: Eat 12 grapes with a wish for each month of the year **
  6. Germany, Poland & Scandinavia: Eat herring as its an abundant fish and look like silver*
  7. Southern USA: Eat Black Eye Peas as look like pennies and corn bread which looks like gold*/++
  8. Russia: Write your wishes for the new year, burn them and put ashes in the champagne you drink at midnight. **/+
  9. Scotland: Have the person who takes the 'first foot' inside your door bring you luck with such items as coal, bread, a coin and good wishes. **/++
  10. Ireland: Bang bread against the walls and doors of the house to ward off evil (and check the bread is baked) ***/+/++ 
  11. Any where with green cash – eat greens for obvious reasons*/++

Do the right thing (or something):
  1. S. Africa: Throw your old furniture our a window. ***
  2. Columbia/Ecuador: If you want to travel - run round your house with suitcases **/++
  3. Denmark: Jump off a chair for good luck **
  4. Philippines: Jump up if you are a child and want to grow taller ++
  5. Germany: Rub ash on your forehead for good luck **
  6. Scotland: Swing fireballs in the air +++
  7. Russia: New Year's Tree and fireworks celebrate the arrival of Ded Moroz and granddaughter who bring presents for children on New Years Day ***
  8. Ecuador: Burn a scarecrow to get rid of the negativity of the previous year ***
  9. Iran: Bang pots and pans at midnight in the street ++
  10. Japan: Watch the sunrise from atop a mountain to welcome the light of the new year +++
  11. Bahamas: New Year Day parade to welcome the New Year

The last three traditions I mention, I am most familiar with: 
  • Anywhere that uses fireworks and crackers, this is to to ward off/scare the negative and darkness and light the future ++
  • US, UK and other areas: Kiss the person at midnight who you want to share the good fortune of the year with. ** 
  • Writing New Year's resolutions (see below).
Rank Top 10 New Years resolutions for 2014
Lose Weight
Getting Organized
Spend Less, Save More
Enjoy Life to the Fullest
Staying Fit and Healthy
Learn Something Exciting
Quit Smoking
Help Others in Their Dreams
Fall in Love
Spend More Time with Family
           Source: University of Scranton. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 2014

Whatever way you chose to celebrate the new year, whenever your new year is, there is nothing wrong with new beginnings, change, new things...and doing things that seem strange or making resolutions you never keep. Its doing something.

As Neil Gaiman wrote as his New Year Wish, in his blog in 2012:
'I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something. So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody's ever made before. Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you're scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever'
I am looking forward, as Gaiman (2012) advocates, to making more mistakes this year and 'making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing [myself], changing [myself], changing [my] world'.

Sources of New Year Traditions:

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