If New Year’s Eve night wind blow south, It betokeneth warmth and growth.
For abundance in the new year, fill your pockets and cupboards today.
If the old year goes out like a lion, the new year will come in like a lamb.
On New Year’s Eve, kiss the person you hope to keep kissing.
- In the southern US, black-eyed peas and pork foretell good fortune. See our recipe for Good Luck Hoppin’ John.
- Eating any ring-shaped treat (such as a donut) symbolize “coming full circle” and leads to good fortune. In Dutch homes, fritters called olie bollen are served.
- The Irish enjoy pastries called bannocks.
- The tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight comes from Spain.
- In India and Pakistan, rice promises prosperity.
- Apples dipped in honey are a Rosh Hashanah tradition.
- In Swiss homes, dollops of whipped cream, symbolizing the richness of the year to come, are dropped on the floors (and allowed to remain there!)
Although the pop of a champagne cork signals the arrival of the New Year around the world, some countries have their own traditions.
- Wassail, the Gaelic term for “good health” is served in some parts of England.
- Spiced “hot pot” is the Scottish version of Wassail. It’s customary to drink a glass or two at home before sharing with neighbors.
- In Holland, toasts are made with hot, spiced wine.
New Year’s Day was once the time to swap presents.
- Gifts of gilded nuts or coins marked the start of the new year in Rome.
- Eggs, the symbol of fertility, were exchanged by the Persians.
- Early Egyptians traded earthenware flasks.
- In Scotland, coal, shortbread and silverware are exchanged for good luck.
The dawn of a new year is an opportune time to take stock of your life.
- Jews who observe Rosh Hashanah make time for personal introspection and prayer, as well as visiting graves.
- Christian churches hold “watch-night” services, a custom that began in 1770 at Old St. Georges Methodist Church in Philadelphia.
- The practice of making New Year’s resolutions, said to have begun with the Babylonians as early as 2600 B.C., is another way to reflect on the past and plan ahead.
- In Scotland, the custom of first-footing is an important part of the celebration of Hogmanay, or New Year’s Eve Day.
This practice holds that the first foot to cross a threshold after midnight will predict the next year’s fortune. Although the tradition varies, those deemed especially fortunate as “first footers” are new brides, new mothers, those who are tall and dark (and handsome?) or anyone born on January 1.