Lucky New Year Traditions

 By Sally Deering

Times Square New York  At 11:59 pm on New Year’s Eve, many of us will turn to the TV or computer to watch the ball drop in Times Square. Last year, one million people braved the cold to watch the ball slide down the pole atop One Times Square on 42nd Street and now, more than one hundred years since the ball first dropped in 1907, we’ll be watching a crystal ball this time ring in the New Year.

 It’s tradition.  

Throughout the world, people celebrate New Year’s Day with traditions passed down through generations and we’ve compiled a sampling below. Some are fun, some serious, but all seem to mark a new beginning and a new outlook. If 2014 wasn’t great, there’s always 2015, right?

Ooh-La-La

In Italy, red signifies good luck and what better way to ring in the New Year than in some nice red underwear. Red undies attract the protective presence of Archangel Michael and bring good luck when worn New Year’s Eve. (In Brazil, Bolivia, Venezuela, and São Paulo, La Paz, people don red undies for love; yellow for money.)

 That’s All Folks

 In Johannesburg, South Africa, residents throw old appliances and furniture out the window.

Bells Ring

 New Year’s Day symbolizes rebirth and in Japan, it’s the most important holiday of the year. On New Year’s Eve, Buddhist temples ring bells or strike gongs 108 times to welcome Toshigami, the New Year’s God, and to clear away 108 types of human weakness. On New Year’s Day children receive otoshidamas, small gifts with money inside. Sending New Year’s cards is also part of the tradition and the Post Office accommodates with delivery guaranteed Jan. 1st.

Carry-on

On New Year’s Eve in Mexico, for good luck and those wishing to travel, people carry empty suitcases.

Raindrops on Roses

It’s traditional to throw buckets of water on friends and loved ones in Thailand.

Just for Laughs

 The British comedy DINNER FOR ONE is a New Year’s Eve tradition and the most frequently repeated TV program in Germany. The 11-minute sketch is about 90 year-old Miss Sophie who throws a birthday party for herself, setting the table for friends no longer living. Her butler, James, plays along and impersonates all the guests, imbibing and getting tipsy as the charade wears on. (It’s also watched in Finland and Denmark where it’s called THE 90-YEAR BIRTHDAY.)

Circles Rule

 In the Philippines, people wear polka dots and eat round fruits for a prosperous New Year.

Here Comes the Sun

  On New Year’s Eve, Scots celebrate with Hogmanay or “first-footing” where the first person to cross the threshold of a home in the New Year brings a gift for luck (whiskey is popular). Bonfires are also lit, and in the small fishing village of Stonehaven, people swing fireballs on poles to symbolize the sun purifying the coming year.

 On the Right Foot

On New Year’s Eve, people hang onions on their doors in Greece. It’s believed that hanging an onion, or kremmida, symbolizes rebirth in the coming year. Traditionally celebrated is the pothariko, or “first foot” where the first person to enter in the first moments of the New Year should be sweet and kind to bring good luck to the home. (Kids are usually chosen because they are the most innocent.) The person must enter with their right foot first so that things go right in the New Year.

Peel Me a Grape

In Spain, eating 12 grapes as the clock strikes 12 brings good luck.

Fortune Smelting

A Finnish New Year’s Eve tradition is molybdomancy, the act of telling New Year’s fortunes by melting lead and then quickly throwing it into a bucket of cold water. The configuration of metal is analyzed to tell fortunes for the New Year.

Bread Toss

Single women place sprigs of mistletoe under their pillows on New Year’s night to attract good luck, and a husband. People throw bread at the walls to get rid of evil spirits.

Baby its Cold Outside

On New Year’s Day in Canada and the U.S. people take the Polar Bear Plunge into freezing cold oceans, rivers and lakes for good luck. (There’s a New York Polar Bear Club that dives into the Atlantic off Coney Island.)

Click Clack Moo

Farmers in Romania head to their fields to commune with their cows. If the cow communicates back, there’s trouble ahead in the New Year.

Jump for Joy

  Danes prepare an evening meal that ends with a special dessert known as Kransekage, a cake decorated with fireworks and flags. They celebrate at midnight by jumping off chairs to symbolize leaping into the New Year with good luck

Happy 2015 from all of us at River View Observer!

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