For years I’ve written about the various traditions associated with the Chinese New Year, but recently I began to think about new year’s traditions that exist in other parts of the world so I did a bit of research. I was surprised at the variety of customary ways people celebrate the new year.
Pop Quiz – Match The Country With The TraditionSome of my favorite traditions (I listed the countries below so you can make some guesses):
- Take your suitcase for a walk to alert the travel gods that you are raring to go!
- Melt a small piece of lead or tin over a candle; then pour the lead into cold water. Whatever shape it takes, it foretells your fate for the next year.
- Wear colorful underwear depending on what you wish for. love = red; money = gold, peace = white.
- Break dishes on your friend’s doorstep; the more breakage, the more luck.
- Peel and consume 12 grapes at midnight.
- Loudly slurp long soba noodles and be careful not to break the strands to ensure long life.
- Sprinkle salt on your doorstep at midnight to bring peace and prosperity.
- Whomever is the first person to cross your threshold after midnight on New Year’s Eve is an omen for the year ahead. Everyone hopes for a dark haired person because in Viking times, fair-haired strangers meant trouble.
- Throw old furniture out of the window to symbolize a fresh start.
- Dance dressed up in furs and masks in order to ward off evil spirits.
- Hang onions on your doors to make sure you continue to grow in the new year.
- If you are a single woman looking for love in the new year, sleep with mistletoe under your pillow on New Year’s Eve. I wonder what the single men do…
- Last but not least, dress in warm clothing and head over to Times Square to count the seconds and watch a large ball drop.
These New Year traditions all have a common theme – Out with the old and in with the new, bringing love, long life, good luck, and prosperity.
Customary traditions are reassuring and provide a sense of safety and continuity. They ease the transition from one year to the next, providing ways to leave the old behind and face the new year with hope and optimism. Whatever your traditions – I wish you health and happiness in the year ahead.
Answers to the quiz
1. Columbia and Ecuador
2. Germany and Finland
9. Naples, Italy
13. New York, U.S.A. of course