As the clock strikes 12 on New Year’s Eve, you can typically find crowds of people cheering, families together blowing noisemakers and couples scrambling to find each other in order to share a kiss. For many of us, these festive traditions come and go on January 1 with very little thought or fanfare. But have you ever stopped to think where they got their start? Many of our yearly rituals, including filling up on good luck foods and celebrating by wearing lucky colors, actually stem from New Year’s superstitions.
Around the world, people have adopted several superstitions that are thought to help bring good luck, protect the home or keep away anything that is generally no good. In Germany, it is unlucky to cheers with water and in Russia it is considered bad luck to wish anyone a happy birthday before the actual day arrives. And like those customs, the practices that we carry out each New Year were first conceived to fulfill similar purposes. The seemingly innocuous exercise of keeping a few extra dollars on you to welcome in the new year was believed to ensure prosperity all year long, and cleaning the house on New Year’s Day was said to “wash” away any luck headed in your direction. And the list of things not to do to start off a new year goes on.
So, if you’re still looking to find the answer to the question “Where did new year’s superstitions come from?” Get ready to dive into the origins of all of those wacky notions below.
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Keep Your Cupboard Fully Stocked
For those of us who are fans of coupons, keeping the cupboard stocked is a given no matter the time of year. But, according to superstition, having your pantry or cabinets filled to the brim on New Year’s Day signifies good luck and will help you and your family to avoid hardship or poverty in 2023. According to Southern Living, it was a popular southern ritual.
Walk Around With an Empty Suitcase
Throw Furniture From a Window
Grabbing a healthy snack come New Year’s Day can do more than just kick-start your new year’s resolution. In many Latin countries, eating 12 grapes (one for each month of the new year) is thought to bring good luck.
Keep Cash in Your Wallet
You may want to run out to get some cash ahead of New Year’s Eve. According to superstition, keeping a full wallet will bring financial stability and prosperity for the next 12 months.
Eat Collard Greens and Black-Eyed Peas
In the south, it is considered good luck to include a plate of collard greens and black-eyed peas as part of your New Year’s Eve meal. Both foods are believed to signify prosperity and well-being for the new year.
Be careful not to shed any tears come January 1. Crying at the start of the new year has been said to set the tone for a year full of sadness and sorrow.
Leave Windows and Doors Open
Similar to the old adage “out with the old and in with the new,” leaving your doors and windows open on New Year’s Eve is said to let out the old year. With all the fresh air circulating, you’re sure to also welcome in the new year (and maybe a draft).
In the Philippines, it is considered good luck to wear anything with polka dots on New Year’s Eve. People who live there also surround themselves with other round objects like coins and even round fruit, like oranges, to welcome wealth in the new year.
We know, a lobster dinner sounds delicious on almost any night of the year, but you may want to be weary of it on New Year’s Eve. Several cultures believe it to be bad luck to eat lobster because the crustaceans move backward. If you are looking towards the future and new beginnings, you don’t want anything to hold you back.
If you’re hoping to gain a little height in 2023, you may want to try this out. It is believed in the Philippines that if you hop up and down at midnight on New Year’s Eve or try to jump in the air as high as you can, you can grow taller.
In several countries, it is considered good luck and a sign of friendship to break dishes and plates on the homes of those closest to you. If you wake up on New Year’s Day with a ton of broken dishware in front of your home, it’s safe to say that you’re well liked.
People in Japan traditionally eat soba noodles on New Year’s Eve. According to the superstition, the meal will melt away the pain and difficulties of the previous year.
If you’ve been avoiding doing laundry or sweeping, you may want to hold off a little longer. In some cultures, it is frowned upon to clean up during New Year’s Eve. It is thought that you could accidentally wash away or wipe away good luck headed your way.
A kiss at the stroke of midnight can be more than a sweet gesture to show your significant other how much you care. In ancient Rome and Scotland, the exercise was thought to help prevent a year of loneliness.
If you aren’t into leaving messes around the house for the sake of good luck, this superstition may appeal to you. Many people around the world believe in starting New Year’s Day with a clean house in order to avoid carrying the old or dirt of last year into the new year.
Look Outside Your Window
In some countries, young women are encouraged to look at their window come New Year’s Day. The belief is that if they see a man outside, it signifies that they will find love in the new year.
An Ecuadorian superstition calls for burning photos of old memories in order to make way for the new things to come. The superstition requires that photos be burned before midnight so that they don’t make it into the new year.
You may be familiar with eating King Cake in celebration of Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. But, a cake that is similar to the pastry that is also popular in New Orleans (it also carries a trinket inside), is known to bring good luck on another holiday. In Greece, the tradition of eating vasilopita on New Year’s Eve can bring good luck if you find the hidden coin in your slice.
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