Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year Folklore

I almost forgot this! Sat down real quick to finish this post before heading off to New Year's celebrations...

New Year's Folklore from Farmer's Almanac

• One of the more popular beliefs is that kissing your beloved at the stroke of midnight ensures twelve months of continuing affection. Failing to do so is said to produce the opposite effect.

• Never begin the New Year with unpaid debts.

• Empty cupboards at the turn of the year foretell a year of poverty.

• The first person to enter your home after midnight foretells the kind of luck you'll have in the coming year. A tall, dark, handsome male bearing small gifts is said to bring the best luck. According to this same tradition, no one should leave the house until someone first enters from outside, and nothing should be removed from the house on New Year's Day.

• Opening all doors and windows at midnight lets the old year escape.

• Babies born on New Year's Day are said to have the best luck throughout their lives.

• A Polish tradition states that if you wake up early on New Year’s Day, you will wake up early for the rest of the year. And if you touch the floor with the right foot when getting up from bed, you could expect a lot of good luck for whole new year

The article also includes several food related folklore for the new year, including:

In the Southern U.S., it is believed that eating black-eyed peas, ham hocks, and collard greens or cabbage on New Year's Day will attract a financial windfall.

I've never followed that tradition, being first generation Southern, but I'm thinking of trying it out tomorrow. I'm rather in the mood for some good southern fare after all the holiday feasting.

New Year folklore from Wilson's Blogmanac:

Got new clothes on?

Many Londoners believe that on New Year's Day it is unlucky not to wear new clothes. Haitians also go out in new clothes, or at least in their very best, as an omen of how their year will go.

And this one makes me laugh since we are eating lasagna tonight. Too late now, perhaps we'll just skip the leftovers tomorrow...

Crappy noodles

A century ago the Sicilians on New Year’s Day ate lascagne cacate, or “crappy noodles”, a kind of lasagne. To eat any other sort of pasta today was considered bad luck. Their saying went “Whoever eats macaroni today will have a bad year”.

Lots of different information here at New Year Traditions And Lore by Phyllis Doyle Burns:

New Year's Day is one of the oldest holidays known to recorded history. The first known observance of this day was in ancient Babylon over 4000 years ago. It was, at that time, celebrated in March - signifying spring as the new beginning.

Until 46 BC, the Romans also celebrated New Year's in March. In that year Julius Caesar designated New Year's Day as January 1st to make sure the days were back in touch with the changes that the sun went through. After many changes of the Roman calendar, the days were so out of sync with the sun that order had to be restored, thus the January 1st date remained the first day of the New Year on the Roman calendar. The tradition was picked up and continued by Egyptian and Celtic cultures.

The tradition of making resolutions on New Year's Eve began with the ancient Babylonians. This, they felt was an excellent way to begin the New Year with a clear conscious, by returning items borrowed from each other. How the resolution making got from that to "I will lose weight," is anyone's guess - yet, over many centuries, this tradition has remained an important part of the celebration. The most modern version of this tradition seems to be to make resolutions that you can break!

And just to show that nothing is really new:
J.C. Leyendecker's December 28, 1907 cover of The Saturday Evening Post depicted a stork and Baby New Year. The myth associated with him is that he is a baby at the beginning of his year, but Baby New Year quickly grows up until he is an elderly bearded man like Father Time at the end of his year. At this point, he hands over his duties to the next Baby New Year. This custom of using a Baby to represent the New year began in Greece in 600 BC and is now a popular traditon with many countries.


  1. This was both amusing and fascinating. Happy New Year!

  2. I just love folklore!

    Thanks so much for your site and excellent blog posts (as always). I look forward to seeing all you'll be doing in the coming year. Happy New Year Heidi!