Now that we are into the first day of 2013, I started thinking about all the New Year’s traditions I have heard about. Fabgrandpa and I were talking about what we were going to do today as we ate breakfast, and I said to him ” We are having blackeyed peas and collard greens for dinner. You shouldn’t plan on doing any laundry today, it can wait until tomorrow. And you have to sweep the floors and sweep it out the front door.” He looked at me like I’d lost my mind (which could be entirely possible), because he had never heard any of that before.
I decided to look up the meaning of those New Year traditions, and the reasons behind them. It has been an interesting endeavor to say the least. While I have been making blackeyed peas and collards (or some other greens) every year of my adulthood, I always did it because Mama did it. So why did Mama do it?
The tradition of eating blackeyed peas on New Years day started with the Jewish tradition of eating lucky symbols on Rosh Hashana back in Babylonia times, with the Talmud saying
now that you have established that good-luck symbols avail, you should make it a habit to see gourd, blackeyed peas, leeks, spinach, and dateson your table on the New Year.
We kiss each other on New Years to bring luck to our relationships. But why do we do it, other than it is quite pleasant?
In old English and German legends, the first person you came in contact with when the bells chimed midnight, be it a familiar friend or just an acquaintance, set the tone for your happiness and fortune in the coming year. A kiss with one you loved ensured good tidings, but to have to kiss someone less favorable, or not kiss anyone at all, would mean misfortune in the upcoming year.
As for washing clothes or dishes, you don’t want to do that on New Years Day. Doing so could “wash away your family members”. I couldn’t find the origin of this one. However, I have always observed the tradition of not doing laundry. I wouldn’t want to be responsible for losing a family member.
An interesting superstition I found says that dancing around a tree outside on New Years Day brings good fortune and good health. Guess I need to go get dressed and go outside and dance!
What traditions does your family keep on New Years Day? Do you know why you do them?