Superstitions for the New Year

Do you have any New Year’s Day superstitions?

Boy, do I.

Well, I don’t have them, per se, as I am not a superstitious person, but I am subject to them as a native Southerner.

Here are the big ones I learned growing up:

No washing clothes on New Year’s Day.

Mom always handled this one by having a massive wash-in on New Year’s Eve, and growing up I remember at least once seeing her standing anxiously near the washer waiting for a load to finish as the clock approached midnight. Also? Drying doesn’t count. At least, that’s what Mom says. Don’t argue with Mom.

My Younger Sister has taken this approach as well, and I heard from her yesterday about how her day was going, and she was excited to say the laundry had all been slain ahead of schedule.

I take a more literal approach. The superstition says don’t wash on New Year’s Day. I can handle that without washing everything in the house the day before. This is basic procrastination, and I am its master.

I did some towels yesterday, but there are some left. And I didn’t have a full load of clothes ready to wash. I won’t bother with any of this today, because what’s another day?

(Caveat: This is not superstition related, just how I generally approach laundry. Is there enough to wear today? We are good, then. The rest can wait. See also: Procrastination.)

No sweeping on New Year’s Day.

Be still, my heart. The odds of me picking up a broom on any day, let alone a holiday, are sliiiiiim. I am a modern man with a vacuum cleaner, thank you. Actually, I am an ultra-modern man with a robot vacuum. To be on the safe side, I will run neither today. (The theme so far in these superstitions is avoiding house work, and I am here for that action.)

There was one year, however, when Mom corralled my sister and I into raking all the leaves in the front yard. We expressed the opinion that raking was close enough to sweeping as to be courting disaster. Mom (whom I suspect just wanted us out of the house for a bit at this late point in our extended holiday breaks at home) overruled us, so rake we did. For hours. Ugh. Anyway, as a result of that incident I added my own superstition.

No raking on New Year’s Day

Don’t give me lip about creating my own superstition. It has to be as valid as any of the rest of them, I figure. It’s even on-theme, what with being an avoidance of chores.

Anyway, these days I have a real easy way to get by on this one, which is called living in a condo. (Note: This works for most forms of yard work, be they rooted in superstition or not.)

Eat black-eyed peas for luck.

The way I see it, any food-based superstition can really just be re-framed as a holiday food tradition. No one says it’s “bad luck” to not eat turkey on Thanksgiving, right? We eat that bird because of tradition. And because of yum.

Anyway, black-eyed peas. I love them.

For me, New Year’s Day is just a great excuse to do black-eyed peas right. Most years the last thing I do before bed after watching the ball drop on New Year’s Eve is to put a full pot of peas in salted water so they can get a good overnight soak. This way, when I wake up, they are ready to start their slow (two hours or so) simmering cook on the stove the next morning and be ready in time for the holiday lunch.

I absolutely do not go in for crock pots or insta-pots, or any other new-fangled way of cooking them. I’m generally pretty science-positive and new-technique-friendly in my kitchen, but doing black-eyed peas the old way is a tradition with which I do not mess.

Eat greens for luck. 

I’ve also heard this one as eat greens for prosperity (ca$h money, yo) in the new year.

I guess I’m doomed to be poor, given my relationship with green vegetables (and most other vegetables), which is, basically: “Leave me alone, and I’ll leave you uneaten.”

Most years, just for sport, I’ll choke down a few green beans, as they’re the closest thing to “greens” I can tolerate. You can keep your damned collards, though.

Getting back to the “foods as tradition, not superstition” thought: If black-eyed peas are the Thanksgiving turkey of New Year’s Day, I guess that makes greens the cranberry sauce for me. (Yeah, I don’t like cranberry sauce. Sue me. Or, better, just appreciate this means you get to eat more of it yourself.)

Something I’ve forgotten

There’s (surely) another Southern New Year’s Day superstition/tradition I am forgetting as I write this.

There are (certainly) New Year’s Day superstitions/traditions from other communities / parts of the country / parts of the world that I do not follow because they aren’t mine or I am ignorant of their existence.

If you know of some good ones, feel free to share in the comments.

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