Is your New Year’s Eve celebration simply not complete without a chorus of Auld Lang Syne or blowing on some loud noisemakers? Maybe you can’t start the New Year without eating a certain food or paying off an old debt. Many of our most popular New Year’s traditions actually have roots in ancient cultures and colorful superstitions.
- The habit of cleaning house, and especially removing the ashes from the fireplace or stove, on December 31 may come from the ancient Scottish Hogmanay feast which is still recognized in Scotland today.
- Making noise at midnight on New Year’s Eve was originally adopted as a way to keep evil spirits or bad luck from entering the home as the new year was born. Shouting, beating drums or pots and pans, ringing church bells or party noise makers all suffice to chase the devil from the doorstep.
- Making “resolutions” may have originated from the common habit of paying off debts before a new year began. Many cultures considered it unlucky to start a new calendar year with debt.
- Food is at the center of most celebrations and the same is true with New Year’s Day. The tradition of eating black-eyed peas and cornbread comes from the American South where the meal is said to bring wealth in the new year. The peas represent coins and the cornbread, bricks of gold.
- For some folks, taking anything out of the house on New Year’s Day, even trash, is forbidden. Removing even the humblest item from your home on this auspicious day may sabotage future abundance. This tradition may be related to British folklore which warns against “sweeping your luck away” on New Year’s Day.
- Kissing a loved one at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve ensures the relationship will be strong and flourish in the coming year. Pucker up!
- The tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight comes from Spain where people put twelve grapes into a glass of wine or champagne. After a toast is made with the libation, the grapes, which represent the twelve months of the New Year, are eaten quickly with a wish made on each one.