As the Times Square ball is dropping, friends wearing glittery tiaras and noisemakers are sipping bubbly and counting down until the first moment of the New Year.
Young kids are excited because they got to stay up past their bedtime eating junk food and preparing for all the ruckus they’ll soon create with mom’s pots, pans and mixing spoons. An aging couple spends a quiet evening enjoying their once yearly serving of oyster stew and black-eyed peas. For good luck, of course. New Years traditions can look different for every family, at every age and in every country. No matter how the holiday is celebrated, near and far, there is a common thread that weaves these traditions together for families across the globe. The backdrop of these traditional rituals that give meaning to our lives is always centered around home.
If on New Year’s morning you wake up to a pile of broken dishes at your front door, consider yourself loved. The Danes throw old dishes at the door of friends’ homes for good luck. The more broken dishes you clean up, the more friends you surely have.
The Southern United States
Round foods are synonymous with good luck. Many Southerners eat black-eyed peas on New Years for future good fortune. Round foods are traditional for the New Year in many cultures because the circle represents continuity. Since black-eyed peas have two concentric circles they’re considered to be extra lucky.
Everyone knows that moms put a lot of love into what they bake for their families. However moms in Armenia add an extra ingredient to a traditional New Years bread, by kneading luck and good wishes into the dough before it is baked.
Move over St. Nick, St. Basil is the man on New Years in Greece. St. Basil? When children leave their shoes out on New Year’s Eve, St. Basil, who is known for his kindness and generosity to children and the poor, fill them with small presents.
The Japanese believe in symbolism and New Years is no exception. Decorated front doors with pine branches and bamboo are the way to health and long life, while fans, seaweed and ferns welcome you home as symbols of happiness and good luck. Children are given small gifts of money called “otoshidamas.” At midnight, celebrations break out as bells and gongs ring out 108 times to chase away 108 troubles, and people laugh to drive away the bad spirits.
Children celebrate this holiday by going caroling door-to-door and singing old songs called Janeiros. The children are then thanked by their neighbors with gifts of sweets and coins.
The New Year is all about cleaning house. Of evil spirits, that is. Children throw pails of water out the window at midnight to rid their homes of any unwanted houseguests.
Children wish people a Happy New Year by touching them lightly with a bouquet of twigs from an apple, pear, cherry, or plum tree called a “sorcova.” This country’s tradition is said to bless its countrymen with fertility, health, and purity. Traditionally the twigs would have been placed in water on November 30 so they’d blossom by New Year’s Eve. As a shortcut, people today decorate the twigs with flowers made of colored paper.
When the clock strikes midnight, people eat 12 grapes, one for every stroke of the clock and for good luck in each month of the New Year.
A family’s home is not just a building or even just a place to dwell, but it’s where memories are made, celebrations are had and comfort is cultivated. At Miller & Smith, it is our honor to be a part of turning a building, a series of rooms into a home. A place that is visually beautiful, that lives well, that becomes a backdrop for memories and becomes a protected refuge for families.
It is this spirit of home that makes us proud to do what we do, year after year. 2014 will be no exception. So no matter how you plan to ring in this New Year, Miller & Smith wishes you and yours the utmost comfort of home.