Bringing in 2014
According to statistics from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, more vehicles are stolen on New Year’s Day than on any other holiday throughout the year.
The tradition of using a baby to signify the New Year was started around 600 B.C by the ancient Greeks, who at the start of a year would carry a baby around in a basket. The purpose of it was to honor Dionysus, the God of Fertility and symbolize his annual rebirth.
In Greece children leave their shoes by the fireside on New Year’s Day (also the Festival of Saint Basil in Greece) with the hope that Saint Basil, who was famous for his kindness, will come and fill their shoes with gifts.
In Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, and Mexico, those with hopes of traveling in the New Year carry a suitcase around the house at midnight. Some even carry it around the block to ensure traveling at greater distances. (Alrighty then – guess I better get my suitcase ready and head around the block)
In Spain people eat 12 grapes as the clock strikes midnight (one each time the clock chimes) on New Year’s Eve. This peculiar ritual originated in the twentieth century when freak weather conditions resulted in an unseasonable bumper harvest of grapes. Not able to decide what to do about so many grapes at Christmas time, the King of Spain and the grape growers came up with the idea of the New Year ritual. (We could modify this tradition with wine…after all, it’s made from grapes)
The people in China believe that there are evil spirits that roam the earth. So on New Year they burn crackers to scare the evil spirits. The doors and windows of every home in china can be seen sealed with paper. This is to keep the evil demons out.
The Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball came about as a result of a ban on fireworks. The first ball, in 1907, was an illuminated 700-pound iron and wood ball adorned with one hundred 25-watt light bulbs. Today, the round ball designed by Waterford Crystal weighs 11,875 pounds, is 12 feet in diameter and is bedecked with 2,668 Waterford crystals.
Because of wartime restrictions, the New Year’s Eve ball was not lowered in 1942 and 1943.
Throughout the year, visitors to Times Square in New York City write their New Year’s wishes on pieces of official Times Square New Year’s Eve confetti. At the end of the year, the wishes are collected and added to the one ton of confetti that showers the crowd gathered in Times Square in celebration of the New Year.
It was thought that one could affect the luck they would have throughout the coming year by what they did or ate on the first day of the year. It is still held in some regions that special New Year foods are the harbingers of luck. For that reason, the Dutch believe that eating donuts on New Year’s Day will bring good fortune.
Food plays a big role in New Year’s traditions. Eating black-eyed peas, ham or cabbage is thought to bring prosperity. However, stay away from bad luck foods like lobster (because lobsters move backwards) and chicken (because hens scratch in reverse). It is believed that eating these on New Year’s Day might cause a reversal of fortune. I wonder if you can instigate good fortune by playing songs by the Black Eyed Peas?
In China, many people wear in the New Year in a new pair of slippers that are purchased before the New Year, because it means to step on the people who gossip about you. (both Princess Nagger and I have our new slippers on right now. Let’s see how it works.)
In Colombia, Cuba and Puerto Rico, families stuff a life-sized male doll called Mr. Old Year with memories of the outgoing year and dress him in old clothes from each family member. At midnight he is set on fire — thus burning away the bad memories of the year.
According to a survey, 40 to 45 percent of American adults make one or more resolutions each year. The top New Year’s resolutions include weight loss, exercise, quitting smoking and better money management. By the second week of January, 25 percent of people have abandoned their resolutions.
In Brazil most people wear white clothes on New Year’s Eve to bring good luck and peace for the year that will follow. (what about the ‘no white after Labor Day rule?)
In Italy, people wear red underwear on New Year’s Day as a symbol of good luck for the upcoming year. (I’m not even going to ask.)