New Year’s Day always feels like a fresh start. A chance to do something better than you did before. An opportunity to start over. A clean slate, a new page, and a blank check rolled into one.
Traditions throughout the world tell you how to get a jumpstart to making the new year one of wealth, health, and posterity.
Age-old rituals might be based on folklore and superstition, but it doesn’t hurt anything to play along!
Who knows? Maybe these global traditions will be the boost you need to push you to new heights!
House cleaning and home décor are great ways to get started
- Paint your front door red. Red is a lucky color in China and other Asian countries and scares away evil spirits. The custom is based on an old Chinese story about a monster that would devour people on New Year’s Eve. Since the creature was scared by the color red, people would put notes on red paper all over the door to deter it. The next day, people would greet each other by saying, “Congratulations,” for keeping the monster away.
- Shred old documents…and throw them out the window like confetti as they do in Argentina… (but you might want to check the local codes for littering before you do!) The idea is to clear away the clutter and the detritus of the past. Get rid of the piles of paper and unnecessary stacks of stuff in your office and start with a clear work surface.
- Break up your old dishes by throwing them against your friends’ front doors…but only if you live in Denmark. In Denmark, people save their broken and chipped dishware throughout the year. Then, they hurl them against their friends’ front doors. The broken dishes pile up, showing which households have the most friends. While in Denmark, the custom is a sign of friendship, it probably wouldn’t be perceived as a friendly gesture here in the states, so follow this custom with care!
- Hang onions throughout your home. In homes throughout Greece, people hang onions before New Year’s Day. Average, ordinary, prolific onions symbolize fertility, unity, and regrowth, and displaying them will bring those things to the household.
- Do a thorough house cleaning. After all the holiday décor comes down, it feels good to do a thorough cleaning to remove the pine needles, bits of broken ornaments, and stray cookie crumbs. Instead of a “spring cleaning,” do a New Year’s cleanse like they do in Japan and Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico, they don’t just clean their homes. They spiffy up their cars, gardens, and streets to get a good start in the new year.
Party hearty for a great New Year
(I’m not making these up!)
- Invite a young, dark-haired male guest carrying gifts to enter your home at 12:01 am on January 1st. English legend has it that if your first guest is as described, and if he comes bringing bread, (to sate your hunger,) salt, (to bring you wealth,) and coal, (to bring you warmth,) you’ll have all those food, money, and heat all year long. Sounds like a great party invite!
- Jump over a bonfire in your backyard…(carefully, of course!) Fire has been a symbol of purification for years. In Iran, people build backyard bonfires and then invite guests to jump over the flames as a symbol of purification and overcoming challenges. (This may be a custom for the strongest and best risk-takers among us because burned butts, torched torsos, and scorched egos may not be the optimum start for the new year!)
- Spend the night in a cemetery…The inhabitants of a small town in Chile hang out at a local cemetery on New Year’s Eve because that’s the night the souls of departed loved ones hang out on earth. Get reacquainted with lost loved ones and know that they’re with you throughout the New Year…if you’re brave enough!
- Jump off a chair like those wild, but friendly, dish-throwing Danish people. Right before midnight strikes, have everyone in your family stand up on a sturdy chair. At the stroke of midnight, jump off in unison, symbolizing a jump away from all the bad things of the past.
Eat the food to induce good fortune
- Black-eyed peas and cabbage: Southerners eat black-eyed peas and cabbage on New Year’s Day. Black-eyed peas are a legume associated with wealth. First, because they’re round and look like little coins. Secondly, when they’re put in water and plumped up, they symbolize what your finances will do if you eat them.
Midwesterners do a variation of the black-eyed peas and cabbage. Instead of black-eyed peas, they eat corned beef and cabbage. It’s important to eat beef or pork and not chicken. Chickens scratch in the dirt to survive, not a bird to emulate on New Year’s Day.
For both Southerners and Midwesterners, cabbage is green like money, and it has multiple layers and leaves, like the potential rolls in our wallets.
- Garner good luck by eating 12 grapes: In Spain, it’s believed that if you don’t eat twelve grapes on New Year’s Eve, you’ll miss out on good luck. Eat one grape for each stroke of the twelve strokes of the clock and feel luck land all around you for the upcoming year.
- Eat peppermint ice cream: You don’t need to twist my arm to get me to eat ice cream! Eating peppermint ice cream on New Year’s Day in Australia means you’ll encourage financial windfalls in the coming year.
Wear the right wardrobe
- Polka dots will plump up your purse: In the Philippines, the New Year’s Eve dress of choice will feature polka dots. Since the round shape of polka dots mimic coins, it’s believed that wearing polka dots will boost your money income in the coming year.
- New, colorful, underpants: No kidding! If you’re lucky and blessed with good friends, someone will give you a personal gift of new underwear like the tradition of the South American countries of Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela. Put on those e colorful pants. Wearing new, gifted red underwear means you’ll find love in the new year. Green means luck, and yellow means money. But whatever you do, don’t give black bloomers because that would signify bad luck, and no one wants that on their bottom. (Sounds like my tradition of giving everyone a pair of new Christmas socks may be switched to giving new underwear every year.)
A kiss to mark an end and a beginning
- Kissing is good: For eons, tradition has it that you must share a kiss as the clock strikes midnight. It’s an intimate gesture that ends one year and begins another, a custom handed down through centuries. Supposedly, if you don’t share a kiss, you’re doomed to romantic loneliness for the upcoming year, so grab your chosen one and pucker up!
No matter what your traditions are, ServiceOne is here to keep your home safe and comfortable so that you can carry them out on New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, and every day of the year.