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Shippy's avatar

Do you have any New Year Traditions that are said to encourage a good year ahead?

Asked by Shippy (9857 points ) December 28th, 2012

I was born in the North of England, and not that I ever lived there, but was told by my parents that on New Years Eve, when the clock struck midnight, someone had to walk around the block with a piece of coal and greet people in the street. I can’t remember all the details.

Since we did do it once, but in a small desert town in South Africa. My son asked me the other day how the tradition actually worked. As he recalled part of it, and remembered that particular year was quite good. We were in fits of giggles because I am sure I threw a piece of coal at his sleeping grandpa. Maybe not! My father was always too topped up to keep awake for New Year.

If any one knows the whole tradition could you please remind us? But that aside, what are your traditions, whether your own personal ones or known ones in your culture? Do you carry them out?

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16 Answers

TheProfoundPorcupine's avatar

There has also been a tradition of a piece of coal at New Year in Scotland as well as bringing something called black bun which is a heavy fruit cake in pasty. I believe that the coal tradition was linked to the idea that the home would be nice and warm for the year and all of the benefits that come with it.

The black bun tradition was also the idea that you are wishing that they have a lot of nice food for the next year and also because we like cake.

I’ve never done either but I know it did happen but we do still have the idea of first footing where the first person going into a house should have some kind of gift and wish the family luck for the following year.

Jeruba's avatar

Whom you’re with on New Year’s Eve seems to carry some significance, whether you’re out with friends or your special someone or passing the evening quietly at home. In my part of the world (the U.S.), it’s customary to greet your sweetie (and/or others) with a kiss at the stroke of midnight.

I don’t know that it has any special meaning apart from the fact that you’re together as the old year passes into the new. The kiss in those first seconds seems like a memorable way to reaffirm your pledge of love and friendship to the person or persons you care about.

JLeslie's avatar

The Colombians wear yellow for luck. When I worked for Calvin Klein underwear all the yellow underwear would be bought up before new years.

My husband’s family is frim Mexico and they eat 12 grapes at midnight for 12 good months in the new year.

Down in the American south they eat black eyed peas.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Got to eat Black Eyed Peas in North Carolina.

geeky_mama's avatar

I have crazy NYE stories where, for at least 3 or 4 years in a row I had terrible luck ON New Years Eve. One year was a terrible car crash en route to a NYE concert in Detroit, the next year I was literally kidnapped by a drunken friend of a friend and all sorts of weird things transpired..these all occurred in the years while I was in University in the US, just before I moved (back) to Japan.

What broke my string of bad luck New Years Eves was celebrating Japanese-style New Years (aka: Oshōgatsu).

If you’re interested in trying some traditions for good luck, here’s a link to start.

Personally, I send fewer and fewer nengajou every year (New Years Greeting cards)..but I still do osoji (like American “Spring Cleaning”) in advance of NYE every year and set out my Japanese New Years decorations (kadomatsu and mikan) and often stay up to see the first sunrise of the New Year (Hatsu Hi no De). These seem to be working for me…(touch wood) ...no bad New Year’s Eve luck ever since…

Bellatrix's avatar

My family also did the ‘coal’ thing. This actually relates to the Scottish hogmanay. As I recall the person bringing in the coal had to have dark hair. I believe, and the site I linked to confirms this, that the dark hair is a throwback to the days when Vikings (who often had fair hair) carryied out raids in the North of England and Scotland. So someone with blonde hair banging on your door might not be a good thing.

Self_Consuming_Cannibal's avatar

[NSFW]
Yes. Kissing someone you love at the stroke of midnight. Here’s the idea.

Shippy's avatar

@geeky_mama Thank you for the link am definitely going to have a look. I want a great year this year. You never know some might work. Sorry to hear though of all your trials and tribulations.

Shippy's avatar

@Bellatrix Yes! dark hair, my son is hellbent on doing something like this for New Year, we are all blonds though!!

Dsg's avatar

I’ve heard of the eating of black eyed peas on New Yrs day. Its supposed to bring you good luck. I also know of the tradition of kissing someone special at midnight and leaving the old yr and heading into the new year together. @Jeruba….EXACTLY!

Dsg's avatar

I haven’t done either in a long, long time….eating the black eyed peas or kissing someone special at midnight. Maybe this is the year to give it a try. I want to make 2013 a great year. I deserve it! We all deserve it.

flutherother's avatar

Seeing in the New Year was a grand old Scottish tradition more important than Christmas at one time. The first visitor of the New Year would preferably be tall, dark and handsome but all were made welcome and ‘first foots’ as they were called brought with them a simple gift.

In those days and I’m talking about the 1950’s or earlier, everyone had a coal fire. Central heating and electric fires were unheard of. Many people first footing brought a lump of coal with them and on handing it over would say ‘lang may yer lum reek’, or, if they were English, long may your chimney smoke, which meant the same thing though it doesn’t sound at all right. It was important to have a party to get the New Year off to a good warm fuzzy start of alcohol, shortbread and accordion music.

There were attempts to make long distance telephone calls to relatives in Canada, Australia and the States but the lines were usually blocked with calls until later in the evening or the next day.

wundayatta's avatar

Luck is luck. Random. You can’t encourage it or discourage it.

To encourage a good year, work hard, be smart, save, invest wisely, and make good choices.

Shippy's avatar

@flutherother Thank you for the warning, since if someone said to me lang may yer lum reek I might get offended!!

flutherother's avatar

@Shippy You mean no one has ever said that to you before? <raises eyebrows> Well you have a delight in store.

AngryWhiteMale's avatar

No real New Year’s traditions growing up that I can recall, other than a New Year’s dinner. However, these days we have Hoppin’ John for our New Year’s dinner. We serve it with collards, and the black-eyed peas and greens symbolize money. A nice Southern tradition, although I can attest that no money has been rolling in since we started doing this. Maybe it’s time for a new tradition. ;-)

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