Ring in the New Year
The start of a new year is a time understandably filled with traditions, folklore, and superstitions. Here in the UK, we’re no strangers to saying hello to the start of a new year with some resolutions, champagne toasts, fireworks, a kiss, and in many places badly sung renditions of Auld Lang Syne, an old Scottish song associated with Robert Burns (that barely anyone seems to know more than the first line of). Beyond these, there are a lot of historical customs, with many regions having their own unique traditions too.
One such tradition is known as First Footing. It is more common in Scotland and the north of England than it is in the south and, like many traditions, there are regional variations celebrated around the country. So what is it? The name refers to the first person to set foot in a house once the clock strikes midnight. It is said that the first person to enter should be a dark-haired male carrying gifts including salt, coal, a silver coin, a black bun or shortbread and whisky, ensuring good luck for the residents in the coming year. The gifts represent flavour, warmth, prosperity, food, and good cheer. The person cannot be in the house before the clock strikes 12, but they can be an occupant of the property. Why a dark haired man, you ask? It is believed this tradition goes back to the days of Vikings, when a blonde invader in your home wouldn’t have been the luckiest way to start the new year. In many areas women entering the house first are also considered to be unlucky, whilst in other areas, a stranger would be welcomed regardless of their hair colour.
I’ve been doing some research on the topic of new year customs around the world and as it turns out, there are some magical and strange traditions. In the spirit of festivity, I wanted to share with you a few of my favourite ways people will be welcoming the arrival of next year. Maybe you’ll even use some of them as inspiration for your own celebrations…
In Brazil, many people will gather on the beach to throw white flowers and other gifts into the sea, an offering to the Afro-Brazillian goddess that controls the waters, Iemanja.1Easy and Delish: 5 Brazilian New Year’s Eve Traditions and 2 Good Luck Cocktails It is hoped that she will give them strength and grant their wishes for the new year. I love the idea of offerings to a goddess of the sea, though if you are going to take inspiration from this tradition please make sure you’re not polluting the ocean with synthetic materials.
Though no one seems too sure why, in Germany many people plan their New Year’s Eve celebrations around catching a broadcast of a 1960’s short film called Dinner For One.2Business Insider: Germans are bizarrely obsessed with this old British short film on New Year’s Eve Meanwhile, over in Denmark, it is tradition to keep your chipped and unwanted crockery, ready to smash against your friend’s front doors come midnight. Waking up to a doorstep covered in broken plates is a sign that you’ve got lots of good friends! Maybe don’t try that if you live elsewhere in the world though, I’m sadly not sure how kindly people would look on you if you did 😉 Shame, it seems like fun! It’s not just the Danes that like to throw things to welcome in a new year though. In Italy, some people still take part in a tradition of tossing things out of their windows3Espresso: 5 Peculiar Italian New Year’s Eve Traditions! (tableware is a favourite) as a way of saying goodbye to the old and show that they are ready for a new start.
For some people, it’s all about what underwear you’re wearing!4The Underwear Expert: New Year’s Eve Underwear Traditions Donning some yellow is said to ensure you good luck for the year ahead in many Latin American countries, whilst wearing white in Puerto Rico is said to ensure good health and fertility. Looking for romance in the year ahead? Many people around the world will be wearing pink or red pants to help attract a lover in the new year. Speaking of a lover, in Hungary girls traditionally throw dumplings filled with the names of boys into the pan once the clock strikes midnight. It was believed that the first to rise to the top would contain the name of their future husband.5We Love Budapest: Explainer: Hungary’s Historic New Year’s Traditions
As with any celebration, many traditions involve food. In Spain (and some other countries), people quickly try to consume 12 grapes when the clock strikes midnight, one for each chime of the clock.6Food Republic: 12 Grapes at Midnight Eating them in time is said to bring good luck for the 12 months ahead, but whether you manage it or not it’s sure to start the year off with a laugh. In Chile, a spoonful of lentils consumed at midnight is said to ensure abundance in the new year7Chilean traditions for the New Year whilst in Germany, Poland, and Scandinavia the good luck food of choice is pickled herring.8Mother Nature Network: 10 Good Luck Foods For A New Year In many countries it is all about the shape of your food. People will traditionally feast on anything round, the shape symbolising coins, another tradition said to bring wealth in the year ahead. In the Philippines, they opt for “13 lucky fruits”, whilst people elsewhere will opt for 12 round fruits – one for each month of the year.913 Lucky Fruits For The New Year
Of course, I could never manage to mention all of the amazing and wonderful traditions from around the world, there are enough to write a book (or 5). I would love to hear how you’ll be bringing in the new year, let me know what traditions you have in the comments below! However you celebrate the change in date, I hope the new year brings you all the magic and love you deserve.
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Photos from Pixabay. Free stock photos used with permission.
Notes [ + ]
|1.||⇡||Easy and Delish: 5 Brazilian New Year’s Eve Traditions and 2 Good Luck Cocktails|
|2.||⇡||Business Insider: Germans are bizarrely obsessed with this old British short film on New Year’s Eve|
|3.||⇡||Espresso: 5 Peculiar Italian New Year’s Eve Traditions!|
|4.||⇡||The Underwear Expert: New Year’s Eve Underwear Traditions|
|5.||⇡||We Love Budapest: Explainer: Hungary’s Historic New Year’s Traditions|
|6.||⇡||Food Republic: 12 Grapes at Midnight|
|7.||⇡||Chilean traditions for the New Year|
|8.||⇡||Mother Nature Network: 10 Good Luck Foods For A New Year|
|9.||⇡||13 Lucky Fruits For The New Year|