Friday, December 30, 2016

New Year Traditions and Superstitions (It’s not a Joke! They Bring Luck to Those Who Believe…)

“Tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.”
― Brad Paisley
What do you usually do at the last day of the year? Traditionally people sum up everything that happened during this period, analyze their triumphs and hard times, do the last-minute preparations for the New Year coming. The New Year tree is standing right at the center of the hall with a heap of presents under it. Mouthwatering smells of holiday food are floating from the kitchen. Laid table is waiting for the guests.
A well-known fuss, isn’t it? However, there is something fun and cheerful in this mess, something we were looking forward to with greatest pleasure and curiosity. The New Year is always associated with the new dawn, with the new day, with the new, better life. So, there is no wonder that people are ready to do the craziest things to lure good luck into their private and professional life.
What do you personally do to be a success next year? Have you got any special family New Year good luck traditions or superstitions? Are you ready to share them with us or they work only when you keep them in secret?
We really value all our loyal readers and customers, who followed TemplateMonster’s and Monster Post’s activity and would like to wish them the following:
“May Light always surround you;
Hope kindle and rebound you.
May your Hurts turn to Healing;
Your Heart embrace Feeling.
May Wounds become Wisdom;
Every Kindness a Prism.
May Laughter infect you;
Your Passion resurrect you.
May Goodness inspire
your Deepest Desires.
Through all that you Reach For,
May your arms Never Tire.”
― D. Simone
We love you, guys, never forget it!
heart
But that’s not all, far from it! Here is a list of New Year traditions and superstitions from different countries. Some of them will seem weird to you, some of them will make you smile and maybe some of these New Year traditions around the world will bring you luck in 2015. We sincerely hope they will!
  • In Pittsburgh and many other cold northern cities in the U.S. near rivers or other bodies of water, human "polar bears" strip down and jump into the water on New Year's Day, usually to raise money for charity.
  • Making lots of noise at midnight to scare off evil spirits. This is the same reason bells are rung at weddings.
  • Opening every door and window to let all of last year's bad luck out.
  • Not doing laundry because you'll "make" someone die, e.g. by washing them out of your life.
  • Trying to get a tall, dark-haired man bringing a gift to be your "first-footer," or first person entering your house after midnight. He's the luckiest omen. A female blonde or redhead first-footer is the worst.
  • In Spain people eat Twelve Grapes, and this is not a tradition of a few but of an overwhelming majority. That's peculiar enough, but also they (ideally) have to be perfectly coordinated with the chimes of the clock in Madrid's "Puerta del Sol" that are transmitted live by virtually all TV and Radio networks. Also, the "Puerta del Sol" Plaza itself is packed with people that eat the grapes on the spot. Families and groups of friends gather to "eat the grapes" together. There has surely been an important dinner before "the grapes" that is over by midnight - but there will be trays with plenty of "turrón" and other Christmas sweets available. Immediately after the grapes are eaten Champagne bottles are opened (in Spain Cava is the rule, not Champagne), and kisses, hugs and good wishes are exchanged. Telephone networks are usually busy for the following minutes, as it is customary to greet your close relatives and friends as soon as possible after "the grapes". They are part of the Spanish language. When something takes very long, it is common to say "aquí nos van a dar las uvas" ("we are going to eat the grapes here"). There is a special grape harvest in mid-December to cater for the demand of New-Year's Eve grapes.
grapes
  • There is a tradition on Goa to burn an old man. It’s not a real Old Man, but an effigy of an Old Man. The burning of the Old Man happens every year on December 31. Village boys make an old man by stuffing old clothes with hay and set up roadblocks as people ask for monetary help for their ailing Old Man. Each village has almost 4-5 effigies in different places with youngsters narrating the writhing laments of the “Old Man”, his anguish, his pain, his sufferings, his joys, his sorrows, all of which were encountered by him in the past year. The Old Man is then customarily burnt at midnight and the money collected is used for a New Year’s party.

Followed almost universally by all:

  • Clean the house before New Year if you don't want to wash away your fortunes.
  • No cutting hair, fingernails or other things during the first few days. Washing hair on the first day is also not a good idea.
  • Avoid talking about death or ghosts.
  • No gifting of sharp objects, clocks, shoes, pears, umbrellas or other taboo gifts. Most of these objects form puns in Chinese language with inauspicious words such as separating or dying or their associated rituals.
  • Gifting of oranges, candies, money (in red envelopes) in even numbers and preferably incorporating the number 8 which is considered lucky. However never gift things in quantities of 4 since 4 sounds like the character for death.
  • Avoid wearing white (which relates to death) during festivities. Wearing colorful clothes, especially red, is encouraged.

Traditional superstitions, followed by some but lost by others, depending on region:

candy
  • Eat vegetarian on the first day. Killing animals on this day will affect your own longevity.
  • No use of knives on the first day. Cut your vegetables the day before and store them.
  • No buying of books during the festival. Books sound like the Chinese word for "lose".
  • No throwing of garbage from day 1 to day 4. It would signify throwing away your fortune as well. Garbage can be thrown away starting from the 5th day. Until then, any garbage must be put in a corner, not thrown away. Best, reuse/recycle/reduce your use of anything that could become garbage during these days.
  • Likewise, no sweeping of floors from day 1 to day 4. You should have done that before day 1.
  • Days 3-4 are not good days to visit friends.
  • One legend says that hanging lanterns and exploding firecrackers on day 15 is actually of superstitious origin - to make Jade Emperor, who is angry at this time and wants to set the Earth on fire, think that the Earth is already on fire so he can be satisfied and not actually make up his mind.
  • Another legend says that there are 12 (60 depending on context) generals appointed by the heavens that take turns governing the mortal world each year. Those whose astrological sign matches the current year may offend the Taisui of the current year (for example, if you're a rabbit and this is a rabbit year) and should be extra cautious this year. It's also a good idea to wear this small icon all year for safety, and go (or have friends go) and try to comfort Taisui at the beginning of the year to keep you safe.
  • Chinese culture likes puns. Non-vegetarians especially in Southeast Asia may focus on eating fish at some point because 餘 (abundance) is pronounced like 魚 (fish); 年年有魚 (Every year has fish) sounds like 年年有餘 (May every year be abundant).

Here are the practices by Chinese in Singapore/Malaysia:

mandarins
  • Spring cleaning. Clean the whole house before CNY. Water wash corridor of the main door during the CNY’s eve. When your house is spanking clean, the God of Fortune will grace it and bring you money all year round.
  • Wear brand new clothes including shoes and underwear during CNY. At least for the first 2 days. You can also change the toothbrushes and towels, change bed sheets, etc. The idea is to have "new" things around you. Dirty laundry also needs to be washed before New Year.
  • Hang something red on doors and walls. Buy pots of flowers to decorate the house.
  • On CNY eve family members gather for a dinner. Children and their descendent gather at parents’ house if parents are still around. Married daughters are not at the reunion dinner, they follow their husbands.
  • Don’t go to sleep too early during CNY eve. The house cannot be too quite.
  • It is bad omen to break vase, bowl, glass utensil etc. during CNY. When such incident happens, you shout out 落地开花 to clear away the omen. 落地开花 means what's dropped to the floor - blossoms like flower.
  • The first day of CNY is spent at home, people also visit temples. It is forbidden for married daughters and their families to visit you during first day. Most people do not mind such nowadays.
  • Day 2 is dedicated to married daughters and their families visits. You can also visit relatives and friends on day 2.
  • If you are married, you give red packets/ang pao/红包 to your kids and kids of family members, relatives and friends who are not married yet and are younger than you. For example if you are married and your elder brother is not married, you do not give him the ang pao. Put money inside and do not put in odd number amount. It is also common for bosses to give red packets to staff during CNY.
  • Visit relatives and friends during CNY. In Singapore/Malaysia, you just need to bring 2 mandarin oranges when you visit. In return, you will receive 2 mandarin oranges back.
  • Two most common greetings in CNY are: 新年快乐 (Happy New Year) and 恭喜发财 (Wish you good fortune).
  • Prepare CNY cookies, sweets and drinks to treat your visiting friends/relatives. The more variety the better. In Singapore/Malaysia, Bak Kuah/sweet pork jerky/ 肉干 is commonly served.
  • For the office: bring 2 mandarin oranges the first day you come to work on CNY, knock at your boss's office, wish him/her happy New Year, give the oranges and demand the red packet from your boss.
  • People of Hokkien dialect group (ancestors from Fujian), celebrate CNY on Day 9. There was a war in ancient times in Fujian during the CNY and people saved themselves hiding in sugar cane plantation. They were able to celebrate New Year only on Day 9. In Singapore/Malaysia you can see people buying sugarcanes for praying during Day 9 of CNY.
  • Light and fun gambling is common with family members/friends during CNY. Don't be surprised if you find stuff gathered during lunch time to gamble during CNY.
  • Day 15 is the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s.
  • Serve fish on the day of the New Year, but leave most of it uneaten. "Fish" in Mandarin is pronounced the same way as the character for "abundance". By eating only part of the fish, you are left with abundance for the rest of year.
champagne
2014 year is ending, 2015 is beginning, a year of loss and finding ... and all of you were with us through the storm. So, we drink your health, your wealth, your fortune for long years to come, and hope for many more days in which we can meet here like this.
Happy New 2017