New Year’s Traditions and Superstitions

Eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck in the coming year, at least if you live in the southern U.S. where I grew up.  In the Deep South, add pork and collard greens.

In some parts of Italy they eat lentils instead, for financial prosperity.  Lentils look  a bit like coins. 

In Greece, January 1 is St. Basil’s day.  He was the forefather of the Greek Orthodox church.  At midnight on New Year’s eve, the head of the household cuts vassilopitta (St. Basil’s cake).  Whoever gets the piece with the embedded silver or gold coin will be lucky for the next year. 

In Spain and Portugal, they eat 12 grapes, one grape at each stroke of the clock or bell at midnight New Year’s eve.  Assuming you don’t choke, you gain 12 months of prosperity and luck. 

Inhabitants in some regions of Portugal eat salt cod on New Year’s eve for good luck. 

In Mexico, if someone gives you red underwear and you have it on at midnight New Year’s eve, you’ll experience love that year.  Yellow underwear brings a good job, work, or prosperity.  Carry suitcases outside and around your house at midnight, and you’ll travel in the coming year.

My children were born in Pensacola, Florida—the Deep South for sure.  I’m picking up a can of black-eyed peas today. 

Here’s wishing you a happy and healthy New Year!

Steve Parker, M.D.

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