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The Voice of the Black Community

Life and Religion

Getting lucky in 2014
New Year's traditions for luck and fortune
Published Monday, December 30, 2013
by Michaela L. Duckett

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Be careful who you open the door to on New Year's Day. Superstition has it that if your first footer is a female, she can bring disaster to your entire household.

Throwing dishes, jumping from chairs, dropping balls and eating grapes are just a few of the many ways people around the world bring in the New Year.

Many traditions are rooted in superstition and intended to either attract good luck and fortune or ward off evil spirits and catastrophe. Ever wonder why everyone kisses at midnight? Superstition has it that if you don’t lock lips with someone dear to your heart, you will face a year of coldness and lack of affection.

In some cultures, single women place a sprig of mistletoe under the pillow in hopes of catching a dream about their future husband.

Some people believe they can predict the future by the way wind blows on New Year’s morning. If it’s blowing from the south, it’s said to bring money and happiness. But if it’s blowing from the north, look out for foul weather.

A breeze from the east supposedly means famine and calamity, while a wind from the west is a mixed bag. It is said to symbolize a year of abundant supplies of milk and fish along with the death of someone important.

And what’s up with all of the shouting, blowing horns and shooting guns at the stroke of midnight? It is believed that the loud noises scare away evil spirits.

Traditions for welcoming the New Year vary around the globe. Danes leap from chairs and throw plates at the front doors of their closest friends. Whoever ends up with the biggest heap of shattered dishes on their front porch is said the have the most friends.

In Mexico, Spain and a number of other Latin countries, it is tradition to make a wish and eat a dozen grapes – one for each stroke of the clock at midnight. The goal is to eat all the grapes between the first and final strokes so your wish will come true.

In some countries, such as Spain and Italy, wearing red underwear on New Year’s Eve is believed to bring good luck.

Because Jan. 1 is the first day of the year, many people draw a connection between what they are doing on that day and their fate for the rest of the year. For example, many people make it a point to wear something new Jan. 1. Why? They don’t want to risk going the next 365 days with no new clothes.

Here’s a look at other popular holiday traditions:

First footing

It is believed that the first person to step foot across your threshold after the stroke of midnight has a strong influence on how the year will be spent.
Ideally, the first visitor should be a dark-haired, tall and good-looking man. It’s best if he arrives bearing gifts, like whisky, which symbolizes good cheer. He should knock and be let in, even if he is a member of the household, and avoid exiting through the same door he entered – that could bring bad luck.

Blonde and redhead first footers are said to bring bad luck, and female first footers are said to bring disaster to a household. It also bad for anyone in the household to leave before the first footer arrives. No reason you can’t have a tall, dark man on standby outside your door at 11:59 p.m.

Stocking up

Many people believe that if they start the year off with bare cupboards, they will stay empty in the coming year. They also believe in making sure everyone in the household starts the year off with a wallet full of money, lest it stay empty for the next 12 months.

Eat well

As with any holiday, food is very much of part of celebrating the New Year. While some dishes, such as black-eyed peas, are said to bring fortune and good luck, others, such as poultry, are to be avoided at all costs.

Other foods considered lucky are collard greens and cabbage (symbolize money), cornbread (gold), rice (swells when cooked), and boiled lobsters (health and happiness). Lentils, which are coin-shaped, are said to bring fortune, and pork is the preferred meat of choice because as the saying goes, “Poultry scratches backward, cows stand still, but the pig roots forward.”

Do work

Make sure to do at least one thing successfully that is related to your work on the first day of the year. No need to do anything big or step foot into the office as doing too much work is said to be unlucky. Just do a token amount of something productive to ensure productivity all year round.

Pay off bills

One should also avoid starting the New Year in debt. Pay all bills by Jan. 1 and be sure to settle any debts before midnight. It is also said that if you pay back any loans or loan money on New Year’s Day you will spend the rest of your year paying out.

Nothing goes out

This tradition holds that absolutely nothing, not even garbage, should leave the house on the first day of the year. If you have presents or other items to deliver, leave them in the car overnight.

Letting the old year out

At midnight, it is customary in some households to open the front door to let the old year escape unimpeded so the fortune of the New Year can enter.

Related Article:


Not sure about attracting luck, but there are lots of things that people do to repel good luck :-)

Posted on January 4, 2014

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