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Symbols and Traditions to Celebrate The New Year!

Updated on December 31, 2012

Symbols and Traditions to Ring in The New Year!

The celebration of the New Year is one of the oldest of all our holidays. It was thought to have first been recognized about 4000 years ago, in ancient Babylon. Most of our current New Year's traditions derive from ancient rituals, or superstitious beliefs. They are often designed to protect us from evil spirits, and bring us good luck and prosperity throughout the coming year.

The burning of the yule log, firework displays, New Year's Eve parties, images of Father Time and Baby New Year, and specially designed fruit platters are just a few of the many traditional symbols associated with the New Year..


yule log
yule log

The Yule Log

Good Tidings for The New Year

1. The Yule Log is a noteworthy good luck symbol in New Year celebrations.

The Yule Log symbolizes the light coming back to conquer darkness. It is an important part of the New Year's celebration and also gives a traditional touch to it.

The log is decorated beautifully after being dragged to the fireplace. It is adorned with soft, red ribbons and glitter to add that extra zing to it. Traditionally, the log should burn for one whole night, smolder for twelve days (signifying the twelve months) and then be put out ceremoniously.

Father Time and Baby New Year - Death and Rebirth

2.Father Time is one of the most significant symbol used in New Year Eve celebrations in several countries around the world and US in particular.

The common image of Father Time is that of an old bearded man dressed in a robe wearing a sash across his chest with the previous year printed on it. A personification of time, Father Time carries an hourglass or other timekeeping device and a scythe.

This particular image of Father Time is said to have been derived from several sources, including the Holly King - the Celtic God of the dying year, and Chronos - the Greek God of time.

The Father Time hands over his duties to the Baby New Year, which is the symbol of "New Year" and is depicted as an infant wearing a sash with the new year printed on it. Father Time and Baby New Year thus serve as metaphors for death of one calendar year and the birth of a new one.

Baby New Year

The tradition of using a baby to signify the new year was begun in Greece around 600 BC. It was their tradition at that time to celebrate their god of wine, Dionysus, by parading a baby in a basket, representing the annual rebirth of that god as the spirit of fertility. Early Egyptians also used a baby as a symbol of rebirth.

Although the early Christians denounced the practice as pagan, the popularity of the baby as a symbol of rebirth forced the Church to reevaluate its position. The Church finally allowed its members to celebrate the new year with a baby, which was to symbolize the birth of the baby Jesus.

The use of an image of a baby with a New Years banner as a symbolic representation of the new year was brought to early America by the Germans, who had used the image since the fourteenth century.

Grapes, Lentils, Pomegranates and Mistletoe

3.In several countries, grapes, lentils, pomegranates and mistletoe are used as auspicious New Year symbols.

Grapes and lentils are said to ensure prosperity.

In Italy, the tradition of consuming grapes on New Year is particularly popular. There is a popular saying, "eat grapes on New Year's Day and you'll be counting money the rest of the year".

The moment the clock strikes twelve at midnight on December 31st, people in Portugal pick and eat twelve grapes from a bunch so that all the twelve months in the coming year are full of happiness and prosperity.

In Brazil, they eat lentil soup or lentils and rice so that they usher in prosperity and well being.

Pomegranate fruit is associated with fertility and abundance.

Mistletoe is considered a good luck charm. Hence in several places, the New Year's table is often decorated with a sprig of mistletoe.

Fireworks - Scare Away Evil

4.Bursting fire-crackers and noise making fire-works are a popular image of New Year celebrations. It is said that use of noisy fire works on New Year's eve emerged from a popular belief of olden times that noise and fire helped to dispel evil spirits and bring good luck.

Different countries follow different traditions and customs related to the superstitions of chasing away of evil spirits. This is done so that the bad experiences of the past are forgotten and one starts afresh and hopes for the best in the coming year.

In Australia, January 1st is a public holiday and at midnight, on New Year's Eve, people make a cacophony using whistles and rattles, car horns and church bells to chase away evil spirits. The next day, the warm weather encourages outdoor activities, such as picnics, camping, rodeos, and surf races.

The New Year's Eve Party!!!

Throw A Good Luck Party?

5.Traditionally, it was thought that one could affect the luck they would have throughout the coming year by what they did or ate on the first day of the year.

For that reason, it has become common for folks to celebrate the first few minutes of a brand new year in the company of family and friends. Parties often last into the middle of the night after the ringing in of a new year.

It was once believed that the first visitor on New Year's Day would bring either good luck or bad luck the rest of the year. It was particularly lucky if that visitor happened to be a tall dark-haired man. Such a visitor should be greeted in warmly and treated generously. It is even better if he gets a gift for you. Some of the luckiest gifts include a silver coin, a lump of coal, piece of bread, etc.

Blondes and Redheads are supposed to bring bad luck, so keep them away. Also, it is bad-luck if a woman enters your home first, so try to keep them away too, even if that requires not opening the door!

How will you celebrate the New Year?

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    • profile image

      Jhon 2 years ago

      5 reasons to hate new years.1) You must party on the 31st of December!Doesn't mttear how You feel, if You had a shitty day, something terrible happened around You, You have to work or You just don't feel like it. It has to be the 31st! Not the day before or after.2) The party has to be legendary.Just getting together with friends and having fun is not enough. It must be wicked! You feel like eating, drinking or dancing? Not enough!3) Pre-planning is a must.Even if You decide what to do at last minute the subject comes up in September. Nearer the years end it's almost the only subject between people. I hate the "What do you do for New Years Eve question", it gives me the shivers. And the always following statement: "We MUST decide early this year because everything will be booked.4) Competitive comparingAs soon as the subject comes up, if you're not talking to a person You'll be spending that night with, Your choice must appear better. The whole point of having New Years Eve parties and trips is to have something to brag about.5) As if celebrating the birth of some white scammer one week earlier was not enough insult, now we have to celebrate because the calender was made for this moron. seriously, if madoff had scammed 50 trillion instead of 50 billion, would we need to redo the calender to commemorate him?!Last reason is non repetitive. Folks, 2009 will suck really bad. period. So laugh now and be merry while you can.

    • profile image

      Titia 2 years ago

      We need a lot more inhitsgs like this!

    • profile image

      yur dad 3 years ago


    • profile image

      your mom 3 years ago

      heel yah

    • profile image

      gavin 3 years ago

      football games

    • TapIn2U profile image

      TapIn2U 5 years ago

      Happy New Year! I have practiced some of these traditions at home. Sundae ;-)

    • iPadGeek profile image

      iPadGeek 6 years ago

      Lovely lens :) Just celebrated New Year with the family, and with loads of good music :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I will eat black-eyed peas to bring me luck in the New Year. Happy New Year!

    • octapus22 profile image

      octapus22 6 years ago

      A quiet night at home, watch a movie have a couple of drinks to celebrate, I enjoyed yr lens ty

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      A quiet night at home - reading your lens in fact! :)

    • profile image

      bridesmade 6 years ago

      im too lazy to read all that :)

    • profile image

      fullofshoes 6 years ago

      Quietly at home with a nice bottle of wine some shrimp scampi and hopefully will be awake to see the ball drop in Times Square :)

    • PTurner56 profile image

      PTurner56 6 years ago

      I've been going to the Rose Parade most of my life and can't think of a better celebration!

    • profile image

      jimmyworldstar 6 years ago

      Just a typical family New Years, light fireworks at night and maybe go for a picnic in the park during the day. I've never heard of eating grapes for the New Year or Father Time being a particular symbol.

    • journey103 profile image

      journey103 6 years ago from USA

      I say champagne and a kiss to ring in the New Year!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I enjoyed reading these tradtions.

    • DLeighAlexander profile image

      DLeighAlexander 6 years ago

      Black-eyed peas for New Year's Day is a family tradition that is supposed to bring prosperity for the New Year. My family wouldn't consider beginning a new year with any other menu.

      Interesting lens, there are so many different ideas and traditions.

    • profile image

      nursecraft 6 years ago

      They say the first person you see after the New Year chimes is the person you'll be with the whole year! I hope so! I will be with my husband having a toast! Great lens!

    • mowug1776 profile image

      mowug1776 6 years ago

      home alone, great lens

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      Bahrns 6 years ago

      I couldn't agree more. But I think you forgot the ice cold champagne! :-)

      We celebrate new year with the whole family; which includes my parents, my sibs and the rest of the gang - POTLUCK! With bottles of champagne for adults and hot choco for kids!!!

      Material Handling

    • Zodiacimmortal profile image

      Kim 6 years ago from Yonkers, NY

      I've aded to the featured lenses of a future lens (Winter Holidays)

    • profile image

      cyberwizzard 6 years ago

      Nothing fancy, an evening at home with family and a few friends.

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 6 years ago

      I will be with my family and friends.

    • BuddyBink profile image

      BuddyBink 6 years ago

      Quietly as always. I am usually asleep by that time and celebrate the new year with cleaning, a fresh start for the year to come.

    • cristianlikessq profile image

      cristianlikessq 6 years ago

      Thinking of my beloved! :)

    • profile image

      adminjagoanhosting 6 years ago

      Now i know more legend for new years eve!! thanks!!

    • jadehorseshoe profile image

      jadehorseshoe 6 years ago

      USEFUL Lens!

    • profile image

      entertainmentev 6 years ago

      I had no idea some of these were traditional new year symbols/traditions. Thank you for the great information!

      I'm celebrating this New Year with wonderful friends.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 7 years ago from Canada

      Lol...I love this. I am lensrolling it over to my New Years Superstition lens. Best wishes in the New Year.

    • kwj profile image

      kwj 7 years ago

      I'm looking forward to better new year, out with the old!

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 8 years ago

      You are the symbol queen! So many great lenses on symbols. Thanks for another. I plan to create a new vision board. Five more stars.

    • WhiteOak50 profile image

      WhiteOak50 8 years ago

      You do such a great work with your lens. Very nice!! "Blessed by a SquidAngel"

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 8 years ago

      Great lens, blessed by a squidangel :)

    • profile image

      Success4ever365 8 years ago

      After some research I found out that more than 75% of people who set New Year's resolutions will break them within 3 months and almost one-third will break them by the end of January? Whether your goal is to stop smoking, lose weight, get in shape, break bad habits, pay off debt, or find true love; most people end up being another statistic.

      Register today for the FREE New Years Resolution Extreme Makeover Telesummit at:

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Very interesting and entertaining! Welcome to the group, "Holidays Galore!"

    • profile image

      chillingbreeze 9 years ago

      Lens provides a good information on New Year Symbols. I try to follow these in my new year celebrations.

      You may like to spare few minutes at my lens here :)

      Thanks for your precious time


    • raegal75 profile image

      raegal75 9 years ago

      Very interesting lens! I love how some cable channels show a yule log burning during the Christmas season. Thanks for the lensroll - and added you to mine as well!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 9 years ago from Arkansas USA

      I'll admit it: I usually go to bed early on New Year's Eve, but I love the symbols and love your lens! Also love those New Year's Day football games! (Hard to believe another year has gone by.)

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 9 years ago

      Another wonderful symbols lens *****