Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Year's Traditions from Around the World

If we were celebrating New Years in England, it would be very important to be sure a good first footer entered your home before anyone else in the New Year. The most desirable first footer would be a young, good looking, healthy male, carrying a small piece of coal, money, bread, and salt, symbolizing wealth. The least desirable first footer would be a woman, and those people with blonde or red hair - I guess those would be considered trouble makers! I can't help but wonder if this is the source of the expression "put your best foot forward." The ancient first footer tradition is practiced to this day in England.

In Ireland, the direction of the wind at New Year is traditionally an indication of the trend in politics for the coming year. If it blew from the west, it would be a good year for Ireland; if from the east, England would gain the upper hand. I thought this interpretation of signs to be very typically Irish. Of course, after the year we've had politically, there's no telling which way the wind will blow after New Year's.

Many countries have traditions that involve large, even massive, amounts of food being served, invoking coming prosperity and surplus. The French feast customarily includes special dishes like foie gras, seafood such as oysters, and drinks like champagne. It can be a simple intimate dinner with friends and family, or a much fancier ball. I'm leaning towards the French approach!

I'm not so sure I'd want to celebrate in Denmark, where friends and family show their good wishes by throwing dishes at your front door. If you have heaps of broken dishes at your door, you can consider yourself blessed with many friends. Really?

Well, Happy New Year to everyone! I guess I'll be sticking with the Southern tradition of good old black eye peas and cabbage to ensure good fortune. Does cole slaw count?

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