By: Alyssa Wismar
With the many festivities around Christmas time, from ice skating and baking cookies, to sharing gifts and making memories, New Year’s Eve can easily be overlooked until the day that it arrives. However, it is very important as a holiday to people in every country and culture of the world, with the many different traditions that are held in households to celebrate the coming of the new year.
Different countries, such as Greece and Columbia, have game-like activities that they do each year on New Year’s Eve. According to ‘tasteofhome.com,’ Greek people will bake a loaf of vasilopita, a type of bread, with a coin in it. Then, they’ll cut and serve the bread, and whoever receives the coin in their piece is said to get good luck in the new year. The Columbian tradition is that everyone sets three potatoes under their bed on the night of New Year’s Eve, one of them being peeled the whole way, the second being somewhat peeled, and the third potato not peeled at all. Then, on New Year’s Day, without looking, people pick a potato from underneath their bed. The more skin the potato has, the luckier you will be in the upcoming year!
Other places on the globe have traditions that are based on setting themselves up and wishing for luck in the new year. In Italy, people eat lentils because of their coin-like shape, in hope that they will be prosperous in the new year. Spaniards, however, will eat twelve grapes in the twelve seconds counting down to midnight, and each grape they eat gives them good luck for a month of the year. If they fail to eat all of the grapes in twelve seconds, they don’t get good luck for the number of months as there are leftover grapes. That sounds like quite a jam!
These traditions aren’t exclusive to countries across the ocean. There are many traditions that happen in the United States. For example, eating pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day to start off the new year is a tradition that people in Pennsylvania and Ohio have started, and people in the southern states of the United States eat something called “Hoppin’ John” on New Year’s Day, which is a mix of black-eyed peas, rice, and pork. To get more personalized details on local New Year’s Eve traditions, The Squire talked to Laurel Gardner, my grandmother, and a Warren County resident with lots of spirit when it comes to celebrating holidays. Gardner loves the idea of traditions and had the idea to keep one of the traditions from both her and her husband’s families.
A tradition that Gardner decided to keep in her family that she got from her husband’s side of the family is rolling different fruits (Gardner stated that oranges or apples work the best) into her house on New Year’s Eve, so that they will have plenty of food in their home in the new year. She also kept the Italian tradition from her own family of setting coins on a windowsill on New Year’s Eve, so that they will have plenty of money for this new year. And, she has one last tradition, which is by far the most celebratory. She and her family always bang pots and pans to celebrate when midnight hits on New Year’s Eve.
But what exactly makes a tradition special? According to Gardner the best part of having traditions is, “… being able to have had it passed down to you, and being able to continue to pass it down to future generations.” Traditions are sentimental and nostalgic for everyone, and that is only one of the many reasons why they should be cherished.
If you don’t have any traditions yet, or want to add more to your holiday celebrations, it’s never too late! Garner herself hopes to add a new tradition this year by having a brunch with her family to kick off the new year together.
Whether you bang pots and pans, bake coins into bread, or create resolutions and goals for yourself for the upcoming year, New Year’s Eve traditions are an important part of the celebration that is known and loved today. They’re a creative way to reminisce on the year that has passed, and party into the year coming up. However you decide to celebrate it this year, The Squire wishes you a Happy New Year!