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New Year's Eve Superstitions and Traditions

Updated on December 31, 2015

Ahhh...yes, the New Year. As one door closes, another one opens. However, many people believe that they have the ability to choose which door closes and which one opens to the new year by observing certain superstitions and traditions. Many of these traditions aren't confined to New Year's Eve, but flow into the first day of the year, known as New Year's Day. Some people pick and choose which ones to observe, other are meticulous in following these traditions as if their life depends on it. Although, many people observe New Year's Eve and New Year's Day traditions without even questioning the reason why certain actions are taken.

Black Eyed Peas and Greens

One of the most common foods consumed on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day is black eyed peas and collard greens. It is thought that by eating this dish it will bring you good luck and prosperity in the new year. The collard greens represent money and the black eyed peas symbolize good luck.

Breaking Glass

In many parts of the world, the thought of breaking anything on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day will bring bad luck. However, in Denmark it a tradition to break glasses and other dinnerware. In fact, as the tradition goes, people will go to their friends' houses on New Year's Eve and throw glasses and dinnerware at the houses. It is thought that the more broken dishes you have outside your home on the morning of New Year's Day, the more luck you will have in the new year.

Champagne

Champagne is often consumed at various celebrations and special occasions, none more so than New Year's Eve. But many people don't even know where the tradition came from. Many pagan festivities, including new year celebrations, were celebrated with the consumption of wine. However, over 1,500 years ago, champagne accidentally came on the scene as fermenting yeast in wine went dormant in the winter but awakened during the warm month, eating up the grape sugars in the wine. When this fermentation process happens in a container that is closed, a chemical reaction occurs as carbon dioxide infuses the liquid causing a bubbly effect very much like what occurs in carbonated beverages. However, because champagne bottles are generally more expensive than wine, most people, including the wealthy, would save the champagne for special occasions.

Don't Cry; Be Happy

It is not advisable to cry on New Year's Day. If you do, it will signify unhappiness in the new year. It is encouraged to try to think happy thoughts on January 1st and be in an upbeat mood throughout the day. It is said that if you do this, happiness will follow you through the whole new year.

Fireworks and Noise Makers

Fireworks has become a part of many holiday celebrations. New Year's Eve is no exception. It is said that at the stroke of midnight, signifying that the new year has arrived, that people should make a much noise as possible and as loud as possible to scare away evil spirits from the previous year. This is why, in addition to fireworks, people around the globe sound off their noise makers and continue with music and singing for a few hours after midnight.

Kissing at Midnight

Most people are aware of the New Year's Eve tradition to kiss someone at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. However, before just kissing anyone on New Year's Eve, do you know why this is a tradition in the first place? It is thought that if you are kissing someone at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve it will ensure that you will not be lonely in the next year. But keep in mind that the English and the Germans have the belief that the first person you interact with in the New Year will set the tone for future interaction throughout the new year. So choose wisely who you plan to kiss.

Money

Paying Bills - It is believed that you should not pay any bills on January 1st, as this will pave the path for you to be paying out money all year long. Sure, we have to pay our bills throughout the year, but this signifies possible unexpected bills and expenses during the new year.

Do Not Loan or Give Things Away - The reason for this is it could represent loosing things throughout the year or people constantly demanding too much from you in the new year. This coincides with the superstition that you shouldn't remove anything from your home on New Year's Day. (See the section below on Taking Things Outside the House)

Pennies in the Corners of Your Home - Some people believe that if you put brand new, shiny pennies face up in the corners of your home, including windows, that new money or an increase in money will occur throughout the new year.

Fill Your Wallet with Money - Some people will take cash and stuff their wallets full of money on New Year's Eve. It is thought that this will ensure that they will not be broke in the upcoming year. It is advised to keep your wallet filled with cash until at least January 2nd, so be mindful of your spending on New Year's Eve.

Top New Year's Resolutions

  • Lose weight
  • Improve finances and/or get a new job
  • Quit a bad habit, such as smoking or drinking

New Year's Resolutions

Many people decide to make New Year's resolutions as a way to bring in the new year and improve themselves or their situation. Making New Year's resolutions follows along the lines of out with the old and in with the new. However, 1 out of 3 people usually abandon their resolutions by the end of January.

Some people have modified the tradition of New Year's resolution by deciding to create a "note to future self" or write a letter to yourself packed full of advice for the new year. The purpose is to think about what you have learned in the past year from either mistakes and misfortune to the learning curve of what worked well for you in the year. It's away for you to get yourself a pep talk throughout the new year or remind yourself to stay on a positive track in the new year.

New Year's Eve Wish

In addition to New Year's Eve Resolutions, some people make New Year's Eve wishes. These are a list of things a person is wishing for or hoping to accomplish in the new year. Some people choose to burn the list on New Year's Eve; others choose to put the list in a safe place to refer to at the end of the new year to see what wishes came true.

Open Your Doors

It is a common tradition for people to open their doors at midnight on New Year's Eve. The reasoning behind this is to let out the bad or negative energies from the house to allow for new, positive energies to enter your home in the upcoming new year.

Singing "Auld Lang Syne"

Right after the countdown to midnight to ring in the new year, many people and venues sing Auld Lang Syne, which is an old Scottish poem written in 1788 by Robert Burns. The English translation for the song title is "Times Gone By", or as many Americans like to say, "The Good Ole Days". It is a poem about not forgetting friends, family, and acquaintances from the past as we move on to the future.

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

and never brought to mind?

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

and days of auld lang syne?

CHORUS:

For auld lang syne, my dear,

for auld lang syne,

we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,

for auld lang syne.

— Scottish poem written by Robert Burns

Taking Things Outside the House

It is said that you shouldn't take anything outside your house on New Year's Day. This means do not take the trash out or remove anything on January 1st. If you do, this could represent a frequency of loss in the new year. It is best to take the trash or anything else out before midnight on New Year's Eve or wait until January 2nd.

Twelve Meals

In Estonia, they like to eat twelve meals on New Year's Eve. They believe that if they do this, it will give the strength of twelve men throughout the new year. It is also tradition that if you can't finish the food on your plate during these twelve meals, then you should set the leftovers outside your door so that any hungry spirits that pass by will be pleased with you in the upcoming new year.

Reader Participation

What New Year's Eve and New Year's Day traditions do you observe each year? Please leave your comments below.

© 2015 L Sarhan

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    • LindaSarhan profile image
      Author

      L Sarhan 19 months ago

      Good point. I guess someone from Denmark should answer that. Of course, I dread putting down holiday decorations. lol

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 19 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      isn't it troublesome for the denmark people to clean up the glassed after smashing them?

    • LindaSarhan profile image
      Author

      L Sarhan 19 months ago

      Thanks for contributing, Pollyanna! I bet it was along the same lines of letting the old energies of the past year out to allow positive energy in for the new year. It's interesting how people across the globe celebrate New Years. May you and your husband have a wonderful and prosperous new year!

    • Pollyanna Jones profile image

      Pollyanna Jones 19 months ago from United Kingdom

      I really enjoyed this. Lots of superstitions here that I had not heard about before. At midnight, my husband always opens the front door and then the back, to let the old year blow out and the new year blow in (we're in England, but I believe it is Irish in origin as he learned it from his mother).