New Year S Superstitions

While celebrations abound on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, so do New Year”s superstitions. Many rituals surround the end of the old and the welcoming of the new. Around the world, revelers pay homage to hundreds of odd New Year”s Eve superstitions. As the clock chimes midnight, an entirely new round of precautions begins, in the hope of bringing health, wealth and luck in the coming months.

Call them fears or just plain old fun, superstitions come from every corner of the world. They arise from ancient beliefs and traditions, hailing from Roman times and before.

New Year”s Eve Superstitions: Out with the Old

The saying “out with the old and in with the new” is a premise that lies behind many New Year”s Eve superstitions. No matter where you live, there is surely a ritual that applies to the saying. In Ireland, you”ll be baking Christmas bread, then slapping it against the wall. Iranian tradition calls for making noise with pots and pans.

In Scotland, people appreciate the ritual known as first-footing. According to this superstition, the first person to cross your threshold after midnight on New Year”s Eve either brings great joys or certain risks. You”ll want to leave blondes and redheads, especially women, waiting until a tall, dark-haired gentleman arrives bearing certain gifts, including a lump of coal. Otherwise, you”ll miss out on a full year of prosperity.

Before the clock strikes midnight, you may want to pay attention to these “out with the old and in with the new” superstitions:

  • Open the back door to allow the old year to escape, before opening the front door.
  • Pay off all your bills, so you can start with a clean slate.
  • Place a horseshoe under your pillow as a good luck charm.

The New Year”s Kiss

While many people simply enjoy a midnight smooch on New Year”s, others believe that there”s more than flirting or love behind the New Year”s kiss. Some people believe you”ll experience a cold shoulder for the rest of the year if you don”t kiss a spouse, loved one or friend.

New Year”s Day Superstitions: Starting out Right

Starting the year out right is just as critical as ending the old year properly. Hundreds of New Year”s Day superstitions go with the adage that what happens on Jan. 1 will influence the remaining 364 days in the year.

In order to enjoy a fruitful year, you can try any of these rituals on New Year”s Day:

  • Avoid crying on New Year”s Day, as you”ll shed fewer tears throughout the year if you keep your eyes dry on New Year”s Day.
  • Don”t let anything break, or you”ll experience larger damage of some sort.
  • Find a tree and dance in a circle around it to experience new love and no illness.
  • If you must work, be sure to accomplish one task exceptionally well, as this is an indication that you”ll complete more successful projects during the year. At the very least, you won”t be fired.
  • If you want to take a vacation, try this approach that”s popular in Latino cultures: Carry a suitcase across the street and a trip will be right around the corner.
  • Keep the fires burning until the stroke of midnight on Jan. 2, but tend only to your hearth. Don”t stir up the embers in a neighbor”s fireplace.
  • Leave doing the dishes and the laundry for another day to avoid a death in the family.
  • Wear new clothes, especially if they”re red. This will assure many months of happiness.

A few superstitions are out of your control, however. How the wind blows at sunrise on Jan. 1 may affect many aspects of your life:

  • A northern wind means plenty of bad weather ahead.
  • Southern winds decree prosperity.
  • Winds from the west will bring about the death of a well-known figure but also signal that you”ll have plenty of fish and milk throughout the year.
  • Winds out of the east are the worst and are the precursors to wide-scale disaster.

New Year”s Food Superstitions

Food plays an important role in superstitions, both on the eve of New Year”s and on the first day of January:

  • Black-Eyed Peas: In many southern states in the United States, black-eyed peas possess a great range of powers, depending on who tells the story. For some, this food will surely bring wealth, along with a great deal of luck. Others believe that these little peas are worth only pennies, while the promise of dollars lies in consuming cabbage, spinach and other greens.
  • Grapes: Grapes, 12 of them to be exact, are part of established rituals in Spanish and Latin culture. The number signifies each month in the year. In order to have good luck and prosperity in the coming year, people must eat 12 grapes at midnight on New Year”s Eve, one for each stroke of the clock.
  • Pork: Some people bring in the New Year with a meal of pork, as it is said that pigs cannot go backward while they root. Therefore, consuming ham will keep you moving forward, too.

Regardless of which New Year”s superstition you choose to believe, plan on stocking the pantry before the bewitching hour. A plentiful supply of goods bodes well.


Cleveland Seniors (n.d.). New Year”s Day Superstitions. Retrieved September 27, 2007, from the Cleveland Seniors Web site:


Indobase (n.d.). New Year Superstitions. Retrieved September 27, 2007, from the Indobase Web site:

Murphy, Reece and Beck, Jason (2006). Ao Nuevo! New Year”s Celebrations Transcend Cultures. Retrieved September 27, 2007, from the My Daily Record Web site: