As a brand new year and new decade beckon, we’ve been thinking about the traditions people observe to ring in a new year and bring good luck. Did you know there are traditions that involve eating a specific number of grapes, strolling around the block with a suitcase, and choosing your underwear carefully? It’s true! We looked at traditions across the world, and here are some of the unique New Year’s good luck rituals we discovered.
If you’re awake at midnight and you feel like a snack, you might want to adopt a tradition from Spain. If you eat exactly 12 grapes, one with each stroke of the clock, the Spanish believe you will bring yourself good luck. The reason for 12 grapes is that each one represents one month of the coming year. We think it’s a healthy way to ring in the new year, even if you don’t believe in luck!
Would you like to travel in the new year? Do as they do in Colombia and grab your suitcase. The native people of Colombia believe if you take a stroll around the block carrying an empty suitcase at midnight, your next year will be full of travel adventures. If it’s too cold outside, you have our permission to take a walk around your house, instead.
If you’re ready to jump into the new year with both feet, you might want to adopt a Danish tradition. In Denmark, people stand on their chairs on New Year’s Eve and jump into January at midnight. This tradition is to bring good luck and banish bad spirits. We wonder…does it work twice as good if you’re jumping into a leap year like 2020?
Do you like colorful things? If you do, you’re in luck with this next tradition from Latin America that says the color of the underwear you choose for that New Year’s Eve party can bring good things to you in the next 12 months. The tradition says that green and yellow underwear will bring you wealth, red will ring in some love, and white undies bring peace in the new year.
Do you have so many things to accomplish in the new year that you need to write them all down? Why not use a calendar to keep track of your goals by the month? A new calendar can help you fill in the blanks with all your grand plans and keep track of your achievements. At the end of the year you’ll have a record of all your accomplishments to reflect on.
Food is connected to several New Year’s traditions, and all across the southern United States a New Year’s Day staple is Hoppin’ John or Hoppin’ John soup. Urban legend has it that this comfort food got its name from a man known as Hoppin’ John who became famous in Charleston, South Carolina for selling peas and rice on the streets. Some of the first written recipes for Hoppin’ John appear in cookbooks from the 1840s, but this dish has been around for a long, long time. Traditionally made with black eyed peas and pork served over steamed rice, there is also a soup version with collard greens, red pepper, bay leaves, tomatoes, ham or turkey thighs, chicken stock, and celery, onion, and garlic. Try this recipe from History.com:
NEW YEAR’S HOPPIN’ JOHN
Start to finish: 1 hour
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup red onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup celery, chopped
- 1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 jalapenos, stemmed and deseeded, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 2 smoked turkey thighs, skin removed
- 1 pound black-eyed peas, soaked overnight and rinsed
- 1 quart low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Salt, black pepper and cayenne to taste
- 1 cup green onion, chopped
- 4 cups freshly steamed white rice
Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in large soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, jalapenos and garlic, and cook until opaque and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the turkey thighs, peas, chicken stock, bay leaf, thyme and a teaspoon of salt. Simmer for 40 minutes, or until peas are creamy and tender. If liquid evaporates, add more stock or water. Adjust seasonings, and garnish with green onions. Serve hot over rice.
If you prefer a steaming bowl of Hoppin’ John Soup, try this pared down recipe that comes together in minutes from All Recipes.com:
Quick Hoppin’ John Soup
- 1 pound of sage pork sausage
- 1 (6 ounce) pkg uncooked long grain and wild rice mix with seasoning packet
- 2 (15 ounce) cans black eyed peas, drained
- 2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with liquid
- 2 (14 ounce) cans chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- Salt to taste
Crumble sausage into a skillet over medium heat and cook until evenly brown. In a large pot, mix the cooked sausage, rice mix with seasoning packet, black-eyed peas, tomatoes, broth and water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 20 minutes, or until rice is tender. Season to taste with salt.
In closing, you’re probably already aware of the tradition of kissing a loved one at the stroke of midnight which is borrowed from English and German folklore. This fun tradition says that the first person you come in contact with dictates the coming year’s destiny, so it makes sense to smooch someone special, whether that someone is your significant other, your child, your parent, or even faithful Fido. We hope that however you spend the last few days of the year or the first of the new year, that 2020 and the new decade bring you and yours lots of love, friendship, health, happiness, and prosperity. Happy New Year from all of us at Current!