New Year’s Superstitions

new year superstitions

More superstitions about New Years:

First Activities

New Year’s Resonance

What you do in the first hour of the New Year supposedly sets the tone for the entire year ahead.

Butterfly Omen

Spotting a white butterfly as the first of the year is believed to bring good luck throughout the year. Read more about butterfly superstitions >

Underwear Dilemma

Changing your undershirt or underwear on New Year’s Day is said to cause boils.

Affection and Ties

Midnight Kiss

Kissing loved ones at midnight is not only a celebratory gesture but is also thought to secure affections and ties for the next twelve months.

Work Symbolism

Engaging in a work-related activity on the first day, even symbolically, is believed to bring success in your professional endeavors. Limit your activity to a token amount, though, because to engage in a serious work project on that day is very unlucky.

Warding Off the Old Year

Door Opening Ritual

At midnight, it’s customary to open all doors to let the old year leave unhindered, making way for the New Year. He must leave before the New Year can come in, says popular wisdom, so doors are flung open to assist him in finding his way out.

Noise to Banish Evil Spirits

According to widespread superstition, evil spirits and the Devil himself hate loud noise. Creating noise at midnight, whether through fireworks or other loud celebrations, is a universal practice to ward off evil spirits and ensure a fresh start.

Making noise, like bursting fireworks or ringing bells, scares away evil spirits lingering from the old year. Many cultures associate loud noises with dispelling negative forces, ensuring a fresh, spirit-free start.

Church bells are rung on a couple’s wedding day for the same reason. Read more about wedding and marriage superstitions >

Buddhist Gongs

Buddhist temples strike gongs 108 times at midnight to expel 108 types of human weakness.

Weather Predictions: Wind Divination

Weather conditions on New Year’s Day are believed to foretell the year’s events. Wind from different directions is associated with various outcomes.

A windless New Year’s day indicates a dry summer; A decent breeze foretells a good summer rain fall; Floods will occur if the first day of the year is violently windy.

Examine the weather in the early hours of New Year’s Day. If the wind blows from the south, there will be fine weather and prosperous times in the year ahead. If it comes from the north, it will be a year of bad weather. The wind blowing from the east brings famine and calamities. Strangest of all, if the wind blows from the west, the year will witness plentiful supplies of milk and fish but will also see the death of a very important person.

If there’s no wind at all, a joyful and prosperous year may be expected by all.

Household Chores and New Year’s Superstitions

These New Year’s superstitions regarding household chores reflect a blend of cultural beliefs, historical practices, and a desire for a prosperous and positive start to the year. Whether through avoiding specific tasks, engaging in symbolic cleansing, or making space for new energy, these customs highlight the intricate ways in which people seek to shape their destinies during this significant transition.

Washing Clothes and Sweeping

  • Engaging in washing clothes on New Year’s Day is thought to bring a year filled with hard work. Additionally, sweeping on this day may result in unforeseen consequences, including the potential for a relative’s death.

Tennessee Laundry Taboo

  • A regional superstition in Tennessee warns that washing clothes on New Year’s Day can wash someone out of the family.

Hawaiian No-Sweep Tradition

  • In Hawaii, there’s a belief against sweeping the house on New Year’s Day. Other cultures hold this belief as well, insisting that sweeping between Christmas and New Year invites the risk of sweeping good luck out the door

German Stables Cleaning

  • German farmers believe that cleaning stables between Christmas and the New Year ensures livestock safety from witches.

Avoiding Certain Tasks:

  • Traditionally, tasks like knitting, sewing, and family laundry were avoided between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Historical prohibitions on specific tasks during this time likely had practical reasons. In the absence of modern heating, it might have been more challenging to engage in these activities during the colder months. You’ll ‘cut off’ fortune if you use scissors on New Years Day

Italian Window Toss Tradition

  • Italians toss old items out of windows on New Year’s Day to make room for new and lucky things. This tradition symbolizes a fresh start, rooted in the belief that clearing out the old invites positive changes. It could also be linked to ancient rituals of purging negative energy.

Avoiding Dishes and Laundry

  • Don’t wash dishes or do laundry on New Year’s Day, as this could lead to the death of a family member during the coming year. This superstition originates from a fear of washing away or ‘losing’ a family member through these mundane tasks.

New Year’s Superstitions: Dos and Don’ts

Dos for Good Luck:

Sleeping with a Horseshoe

Sleeping with a horseshoe under your pillow on New Year’s Eve assures good luck. This custom likely stems from the horseshoe’s long-standing reputation as a symbol of luck and protection.

Wear New Clothes

Wearing new clothes on the first day of the year brings the promise of receiving more new clothes throughout the year. This act symbolizes renewal and optimism, inviting positive experiences in the coming months.

Don’ts to Avoid Bad Luck:

Do not Break Anything:

Breaking things on New Year’s Day is considered a bad omen, signaling destruction in the coming year. It sets the pattern for the entire year.

Avoid Crying

Crying on the first day of the year must be avoided. Being happy and in good spirits on New Year’s Day is believed to ward off sadness throughout the year.

First Footing: Welcoming Prosperity

The First Person to Enter

The first person to enter your home after the stroke of midnight will influence the year you’re about to have. Ideally, a dark-haired, tall, and good-looking individual is preferred, bringing small gifts like coal, a silver coin, bread, evergreen, and salt for added luck.

Blonde and redhead first footers bring bad luck. Female first footers should be shooed away before they bring disaster down on the household.

In the southern U.S., the first guest of the year signifies the marriage balance for the coming year. If a man walks through the front door first, it’s believed the husband will have more luck for the year.

Precautions for the First Footer

The first footer (or “Lucky Bird”) should knock and be let in rather than unceremoniously using a key. After greeting those in the house and dropping off small tokens of luck, he should leave by a different door than the one through which he entered.

First footers must not be cross-eyed or have flat feet or eyebrows that meet in the middle. These traits are considered unfavorable.

Nothing Goes Out

Nothing — absolutely nothing, not even garbage — is to leave the house on the first day of the year. Presents to be delivered on New Year’s Day should be left in the car overnight.

Some people soften this rule by saying it’s okay to remove things from the home on New Year’s Day provided something else has been brought in first. This aligns with the belief that the year must begin with something added to the home before subtracting from it.

One who lives alone might place a lucky item or two in a basket with a string tied to it, then place the basket just outside the front door before midnight. After midnight, the lone celebrant hauls in his catch, ensuring not to break the plane of the threshold, symbolizing the start of a prosperous year.

Money Matters

Do not pay back loans or lend money or other precious items on New Year’s Day. To do so is believed to guarantee you’ll be paying out all year.

Keeping purses and wallets full of money, and cupboards stocked with food is said to bring prosperity and luck in the New Year. Paying away all debts before New Year’s Eve is encouraged, ensuring the household does not begin the New Year in debt.

Superstitions About New Years Eve and New Years Day

As the New Year unfolds, these diverse superstitions and traditions offer a fascinating glimpse into the cultural tapestry of beliefs worldwide. Whether welcoming good fortune, banishing evil spirits, or predicting the year’s events through weather and first guests, these customs reflect a shared human inclination to mark the transition into a new chapter with hope, positivity, and a bit of caution.

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