Thursday, December 27, 2018

Fun, Historic and Odd New Year’s Eve Traditions in American and Around the World

Americans celebrate each new year with a plethora of different traditions. Some of us attend parties with family and friends, some stay home and watch a party on the television with a climactic ball drop. At the stroke of midnight, we kiss a love one…Or a stranger, we sip champagne, we light off fireworks and/or call loved ones on the phone. On the first day of the new year we might eat black-eyed-peas or make a hard-kept, and easily broken, resolution. We do funny, meaningful, and old-style things that we believe are a normal part of ringing in the newest year, but did you know, folks around the world also have New Year traditions? Historically, traditions have an important role in our culture and most have a meaningful beginning. The following list is a little insight to the meanings of some New Year traditions at home and around the world. 
Kissing at midnight: An American based tradition. Kissing someone at the stroke of twelve on New Year’s Eve (or I guess it’d be New Year’s Day) has vague beginnings, but the meaning has stayed mostly the same . . . The person you plant a kiss on when the clock strikes midnight is the person you hope to be with all year long.

The color of your undergarments: A South American tradition. In some South American countries, the color of undergarments you chose to wear on New Year’s Eve could influence you’re the entire upcoming year. Pink brings love, red spreads passion, blue, health, yellow, prosperity; and white, peace and happiness. So, pick out those colored panties now . . . Oh, and the tradition dictates they be new!

Eating black-eyed peas: An American—specifically Southern—New Year’s Day tradition: Eating black-eyed peas will bring you good luck and prosperity in the new year . . . Says old Southern. The tradition of eating the legume has a few possible beginnings places the one I like best is when the Yankees pillaged the stores of southern farmers, they left behind black-eyed peas and pork rinds, thinking they were nothing more than animal fodder. When the farmers came back to what was left of their meager stores and found the black-eyed leas left behind, they were glad and thankful to have something to carry them through the winter. Thus, began the tradition of eating “hoppin’ john” each in remembrance of hard times and for good luck in the year to come.
Old Hoppin’ John recipe   
One large ham hock or pork rind
Four cups water
Two cups soaked (soak dried “peas” in water for 6-10 hours)
One finely chopped onion
Two chopped celery ribs
Salt and pepper to taste
Add all ingredients to Dutch oven or stew pot and bring to a boil. Simmer until black eyed peas are desired softness. Serve over rice with cornbread.

New Year's resolution: Although resolutions are most common in the Western Hemisphere the practice is also found in the Eastern Hemisphere. Making a resolution is a bit of a controversial tradition in our home. The New Year is a time of new beginnings, a time to examine the year past and look forward to the year to come and making a resolution for change is a good a not so good way to commence a kick start to your goals. Just don’t be disappointed if you break your resolution. Life isn’t about the mistakes we make . . . It’s about how we handle them. The practice of resolutions may have come from religious foundations. For example: At the start of each year, Babylonians made promises to their gods that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts. Romans made promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named. And during the Medieval era, at the end of the Christmas season, knights took a "peacock vow" to re-affirm their pledge to valor.

Do you practice a New Year’s Tradition? Something steeped in history or something innovative like the newer practice of choosing a word to represent the new year. Share with us what in the comments below, and if you chose a word for the year, please share that too.

May 2019 bring each of you happiness, health, prosperity, and love. Thank you for stopping by HHH we appreciate you all.

Happy New Year!

Award winning author, Michele Morris’s love for historical fiction began when she first read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House book series. She grew up riding
horses and spending her free time in the woods of mid-Michigan. Married to her high school sweetheart, they are living happily-ever-after with their six children, three in-loves, and ten grandchildren in the sunshine state. Michele loves to hear from readers on Facebook, Twitter, and through the group blog, Heroes, Heroines, and History at She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.


  1. I've loved the posts you all have done about holiday traditions and their beginnings. I've given up with New Year's Resolutions, but I do try to maintain good practices through the year and doesn't the beginning of a year make a great restarting point? Happy New Year, and thanks for posting!

  2. We always eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day. It's a family tradition, plus most of us like them.

  3. We always have cooked cabbage, "soup beans" (Pinto or Great Northern) and cornbread on New Year's Day. Not sure where this came from but I've been doing this for many years!!
    Happy New Year!