Happy New Year!
It’s that time again… time to make changes, start new, and look forward to a whole new trip around the sun. Of course, something so exciting as starting a new year comes steeped in traditions, superstitions, and downright nutty events. I have never liked the party scene on New Year’s (too many people, too much booze… what can I say, I’m an old lady and always have been), but I do find the customs and traditions surrounding the holiday fascinating.
For instance, in the South US, it’s a tradition to eat black-eyed peas. The black-eyed peas symbolize coins and eating them insures economic prosperity for the coming year. If you are like me, though, you have no idea how to prepare black eyed peas… but, give this recipe a try and let me know how it works out for you. :)
In South America and Spain, it’s believed the color of your undergarments will influence what kind of year you’ll have. Tradition holds that yellow underwear will bring prosperity and success, red and pink will bring love and romance, blue will promote health and wellness, white will lead to peace and harmony, and green will ensure health and well-being.
Also in Spain, they eat 12 grapes for 12 months of good luck. But there is a bit of a trick to it, to bring a year’s worth of good luck, you have to start eating the grapes exactly when the clock strikes midnight, then eat one for each toll of the clock. And all of the grapes must be eaten (meaning fully swallowed) before the tolls of the clock are ended.
In the Philippines, people wear polka dots because the circle represents prosperity. Coins are kept in pockets and are rattled together to attract wealth.
Probably the most famous tradition in the United States is the New Year ball drop in New York, right before midnight. Thousands of people gather to watch the ball in person and on television; they party and kiss under its shining light and start the New Year jubilant and probably hammered. This tradition is so glamorous and fun that many cities have chosen to follow in New York’s path and drop things that represent different communities in celebration:
- In Boise Idaho, a car sized potato is dropped from the US Bank building in downtown Boise. Idaho is known for its potatoes, so I guess that dropping a potato makes sense (I wonder, though, if they eat mashed potatoes afterwards? ba-duh-bum).
- And in Tempe, Arizona, a Giant Tortilla Chip is dropped (sponsored by Tostitos Tortilla Chips). Apparently the accompanying party is massive and includes fireworks and, I presume, a lot of salsa.
- Plymouth, Wisconsin drops an 80-pound decorated cheese wedge from a 100 ft. ladder truck in a tribute to the region’s dairy industry.
- Perhaps my favorite thing to drop on New Year’s, though, comes from Mobile, Alabama where a 600-pound, Moon Pie is lowered from the RSA Tower. There is also a Mardi Gras parade where moon pies are thrown instead of (or with?) beaded necklaces. That’s a party I might actually want to go to. Ha!
Despite the charm and hilarity of these traditions, the Midnight Kiss is probably the most widely participated in event of New Year celebrations around the world. The reason you are supposed to kiss someone at midnight is to ward off a year of coldness and lack of affection. And probably to ensure you start the year off with fun and excitement.
So, this New Year’s Eve, I hope you are all eating beans, wearing colorful (maybe polka dotted) underpants, and kissing someone you love!