It’s that time of year again. Christmas has come and gone, people have returned to work after the holiday break, some are returning gifts that weren’t quite right and we’re all gearing up to celebrate the arrival of a new year. In all the upcoming celebrations where we eagerly await the arrival of 2015, many of us automatically revert to honoring old traditions as a way to celebrate the new year. Most of us, myself included, never really think about why we do some of the things we do; we just do it because we’re supposed to.
Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why we follow certain traditions on New Years Day? Is there any particular reason why we kiss at midnight, why we eat certain foods that day or a plethora of other things we do? Most of these traditions started many years ago as forms of superstition and attempts to ward off evil.
I’ve never considered myself a particularly superstitious person, but many of my older family members are extremely superstitious, whether they’d like to admit it or not. I can remember vividly when I was a teenager my Grandmother scolded me rather harshly for attempting to wash clothes on New Years Day.
“You better put those clothes back in with the rest of the dirty clothes,” she said, “you know you can’t wash clothes on new years!”
I remember being bewildered as to why she’d be so adamant about me not doing laundry, and even more bewildered as to why she’d think I knew not to do such a thing. She explained, “If you wash clothes on new years, you’re gonna wash the life outta somebody!” Therefore, it was forbidden to do laundry that day. I suppose it was a good thing I had clean clothes to wear the next day. My mother, who isn’t the superstitious kind at all, told me not to worry about it, that it was “just an old wives tale, and you know how Grandma can be about those.”
On that day, we’d always go to Grandma’s house for lunch, and as I remember, she always had black-eyed peas and collard greens for lunch. I never thought much about it until the conversation took place over lunch one year that eating these two foods were supposed to bring a person good luck throughout the year.
There are other traditions we follow that have origins in superstitions, and I’m sure we all know of at least three or four we could spout off without thinking about them. For instance, did you know that it’s tradition to kiss your significant other at midnight because it ensures the ties and affection will last throughout the coming year? All this time I just thought it was because it was a sweet thing to do.
As mentioned earlier, you shouldn’t do any washing or cleaning on New Years Day or you’ll wash away the life from someone that year.
Never start the new year in debt, so make sure all your bills for the month are paid before January 1. If not, you’ll be paying out money all year long.
Shouting and making loud noises at the stroke of midnight was done as a way to scare away the devil. So the next time you wonder why the crazy neighbors are outside banging pots and pans (well, here in the South anyway) at midnight, you now have an explanation. Hopefully, they’re doing it for traditions sake and not just crazy. But as a friend of mine says, “Honey, we got us a whole lot of crazy ’round here!” So if they’re still banging pots and pans past a reasonable amount of time, feel free to call the cops. I gotta get some sleep!
Make sure that you’re wearing a new article of clothing on New Years Day to ensure that you’ll get more new clothes throughout the year. There is also this odd superstition that some hold about not changing your underwear on New Years Day, but I’m gonna have to take my chances on that one. I’m not going to be caught dead in day-old undies!
There are probably a million more superstitions and traditions we follow. I have to admit I follow some of them myself; not because I believe in bad omens, but simply because I think it’s fun to do. In some way I can’t explain, it helps serve as a connection to our past. Or maybe I’m just sentimental.
To those of you reading this, what other traditions/superstitions do you follow during New Years Day? Why do you do them? Does it leave you with a sense of connection to your past and those older family members you have? Feel free to let us all know in the comment section below. I’m looking forward to reading what you have to say.
Oh, and before I forget, happy new year!