Where you grew up or where you live often determines on how you bring the new rear in. Traditions are different in each part of the United States including what people you eat, what they wear and more.
People who live in the southern part of the United States bring in the New Year with black-eyed peas, also know as Hoppin John. The tradition started in South Carolina, usually served with pork and rice, collard greens and corn bread.
In Mexico and cities in the United States with large Hispanic populations, tamales are served. Tamales are corn masa dough stuffed with pork or other meats and steamed in corn husks. They are served usually throughout the holiday season. Tamales symbolize family traditions, gatherings and celebrations, more than good luck.
Pork and sauerkraut are served in Pennsylvania and Ohio for good luck. This is a German tradition that came from the early Pennsylvania Dutch and German settlers. The tradition symbolizes good luck and progress in the new year since pigs are noted for rooting forward. Sauerkraut, made from cabbage, symbolizes riches and prosperity. The long strands of sauerkraut symbolize a long life.
In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, they share a pretzel. The pretzel is a bread-like, salty and sweet glazed treat that is shared with other people. It symbolizes good luck.
People in Chicago eat pickled herring due to their large Polish population. People in Minnesota, also eat pickled herring due to the large population of Norwegian descendants. Pickled herring are supposed to bring good luck when you take a bite at the stroke of midnight. Pickled herring symbolize long life, fertility and riches due to the coin-like silver color.
Watching something drop on New Year’s Eve is suppose to bring good luck. Much of the United States is familiar with the ball drop in Times Square in New York. However, people in Nashville watch a musical note drop, and in Plymouth, Wisconsin they watch the Big Cheese. In Bethlehem, Pennsylvania they watch a big marshmallow drop.
In the past, a tradition of wearing something new on New Year’s was a symbol of prosperity and good luck for the rest of the year. In the Philippines, they wear polka dots, which increases the chances for a fortunate new year. In Brazil, they wear white for luck and peace.
On the stroke of midnight, one tradition is to kiss someone you love. This tradition is borrowed from English and German folklore. It is believed that “the first person you come in contact with, dictates the year’s destiny.”
There is a tradition also to open your windows and doors open at midnight. This superstition believes you are letting out the old year and letting the new year in, without being obstructed or hindered.
Sources for this story included goodhousekeeping.com, mylot.com and extramile.thehartford.com.
Jackie Wolgamott is a stringer for The Times-Gazette.