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New Year’s Traditions

New Year’s Traditions


As 2023 approaches, many people in the United States join in the tradition of watching the ball drop in New York to signify the start of a new year. This is only one of many New Year’s Eve traditions that people participate in around the world. 

One common way New Year’s is celebrated around the world is with food. Certain foods in different cultures are believed to bring luck to whoever eats them. For instance, many African American families from the south will prepare a dish with black-eyed peas and rice as a way to bring good luck.

12 grapes in a champagne glass for New Year’s Eve by Barcelo Studio.

There is also the “12 grapes tradition,” which originated in Spain, where people eat a dozen grapes to represent 12 months of good luck for the New Year. As soon as the clock strikes midnight, people eat one grape at a time and think of a specific wish or hope they wish to have in the New Year. Grapes and back-eyed peas are two foods that carry a lot of cultural significance within New Year’s traditions. So for New Years Eve, be sure to eat some food you enjoy or that has some cultural significance to bring good luck into 2023.

Another popular tradition that many cultures participate in is wearing specific colored clothing on New Year’s Eve. It is believed that certain colors of clothes bring in different forms of luck and abundance into your life. For instance, it is believed that those who wear red will find love in the upcoming year and those who wear yellow will have good luck in life. Additionally, it is believed that those who wear green will have a successful year financially. 

One tradition that is commonly practiced is walking outside with an empty suitcase at midnight. It is believed that those who partake in this tradition will have good luck traveling around the world in the following year. This tradition is prevalent in various Latin cultures, but it primarily stems from Columbia. So if you want to travel in the upcoming year, make sure to have your empty suitcase ready for New Year’s Eve.

Cleaning the house for the new year by Getty Images.

Another tradition is cleaning the entire house on New Year’s Eve to start the upcoming year with a clean slate. Although this tradition is popular among Latin countries, it is said to originate in Japan where it is commonly referred to as, “osouji.” Many families wake up early on new year’s eve to give themselves enough time to sweep, wash dishes, and even clean the interior house walls. It is believed that by cleaning the entire house, all of the negative energy is released and left behind. Therefore, only positive energy is in the house for the new year. 

A similar tradition that focuses on starting the new year with a clean slate is throwing a bucket of water outside of a window. This tradition is believed to originate in Puerto Rico and is practiced across several Latin countries like México. Those who follow this tradition believe that the action of throwing water outside of a window drives away evil spirits, again releasing any negative energy that was present. 

 The practice known as “El Año Viejo” (translated to mean “the old year” in English) is celebrated in many Latin countries and is believed to originate in Ecuador. This New Year’s practice is centered around the burning of specific effigies, most of the time they take the form of Papier-mâché dolls, almost like piñatas. The burning of these effigies is meant to represent the burning of the mistakes of the old year and wiping the slate clean. With this in mind, some año viejo’s dolls are made in the shape of political figures. Some examples from recent years include former President Donald Trump.

Two women fist fight in celebration of Takanakuy by Mike Kai Chen.

Jumping over to Peru, there is the celebration of Takanakuy, which roughly translates to “hit each other.” Similar to the El Año Viejo tradition, this one is centered around getting over gripes that have developed over the past year, but it differs in the fact that the citizens all gather around and have a fistfighting contest. Men and women participate in this fight, by challenging a specific person, and each fight begins and ends with a hug so that no bitter feelings are left behind for the new year. Cloth wrappings on their hands are mandatory and kicking is allowed. However, hair pulling, biting, and hitting those on the ground is not allowed during the fight.

There are various New Year’s Eve traditions across the world that differ slightly based on the culture. However, they all focus on releasing negative energy, leaving behind old gripes, and most importantly bringing good luck into the New Year. Celebrate this New Year’s Eve with your favorite traditions or try some new ones to ensure your 2023 is filled with good luck and abundance.

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