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Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year Traditions


Happy 2010! I hope the New Year is a happy and healthy one where all your dreams come true! And with me, it’s all about traditions. With my heritage being predominantly Polish and Irish, along with a wee bit of Scottish, Welsh and Austrian blood, is it any wonder? I grew up with a blend of all these well wishes for the New Year, and I’d like to share them with you. Enjoy!!

An old Irish tradition:
At the stroke of midnight, open the front door to let the New Year in and make a wish. Then run to the back door or side door and open it to let the old year and all the bad luck out!

A Polish tradition from my Grandfather passed on to my mother
The Polish believe snow on New Year’s Eve brings good luck. On a snowy New Year’s Eve, place two silver dollars outside on the window pane. The following morning, scoop up the money, along with a generous handful of snow. Close your eyes and make a wish. Then run to the bathroom and wash your face in the fresh snow and your wish will come true!

Words of Wisdom from my Irish aunt
Aunt Sis, who has starred in many of my blog posts, was a big one for legends and superstitions. She used to tell us to never eat chicken on New Year’s Day or we’d be scratching all year! This, we learned, was a reference to money. Eating pork is said to fatten the wallet for the coming year!

My Polish aunt
Not a big one for legends or superstitions, but Aunt Mary used to give a piece of straw from her Christmas manger to all her nieces and nephews. She told us to keep it in our wallets and we’d never be broke. Maybe because I’m such a believer in legends and lore, it works for me. But this is the truth. When I’m running low on money and rub the straw between my fingers, I’ve been known to find money, get some unexpected cash or win the lottery. Now, grant it, I’m not talking about any large sum of money that will allow me the luxuries of the world by any stretch of the imagination. But just enough to be a blessing!

Somewhere in Austria
There are said to be Austrian relatives on my mother’s side of the family. Very little is known about them other than my grandmother and aunt spoke of a connection to royalty. There were letters from many years ago. But after my grandmother and aunt passed away, the stories they used to tell us at Christmas and Easter faded and nothing more was ever mentioned. But one thing that stuck in my head is a New Year’s tradition they spoke of. It’s a bit chilling, but since I’m such a big believer in angels, I don’t question it.

Pick up the first shiny penny you spot gleaming in the snow in the New Year. Check the date. If it’s either the year of birth or year of death of a loved one, that person is said to be your guardian angel and will watch over you for life.

The Scottish Blessing
The Scottish are big believers in purifying the home for the New Year. This can be done in whatever traditions are passed on from generation to generation in your family. One way is to sprinkle fresh water in each room to kill the germs of the old year. Some local priests come to the homes and sprinkle holy water and bless the home.

Welsh Wishes for Good Luck
I’ve always been drawn to the fresh scent of evergreen in the house at Christmas and saddened when the bristly needles fall off and pine away. With all the legends and lore I’m blessed with, bringing a bit of the good earth into the home had to mean something. I recently learned we have some Welsh relatives on my dad’s side of the family. And a Welsh tradition for the New Year is to break off a piece of the fresh pine and sprinkle the branch through the home.

No matter what your traditions are or how you choose to ring in the New Year, I wish you health and happiness for 2010. Happy New Year!


Hywela Lyn said...

What a fascinating post, Sharon, I especially love the Polish one, and keeping a piece of straw from the Christmas manger in one's wallet. I must try that one. I thought you might like to hear a few more Welsh traditions

We never wash any item, not even a handkerchief on New Year's day, it is said to be very bad luck.

When I was a child growing up in Wales, we would stick a sprig of fir tree or holly into an apple, and relatives and grown up friends would give us a small token of money for New Year. This was known as ‘calennig’.
The true "Calennig" was a small decoration which some people think dates back to pagan times. An apple (or latterly perhaps an orange) was supported on a tripod of twigs and studded with cloves. A sprig of box (from a nearby hedge) was inserted at the top. The resulting Calennig would then be displayed in the home or perhaps delivered to friends as a symbolic gift. It was held to be a token of good crops in the coming year.

Another tradition was known as the "Mari Lwyd" (sometimes translated as the "Venerable Mary") . In this, the skull of a horse was arranged on a pole so that the jaws could be snapped open and shut by the bearer, who was covered by a white sheet draped from the skull. The head would carry gaily coloured streamers, to symbolise reins. The "horse" would be joined by a group of local men and the party would proceed to call at the houses of the village. The Mari Lwyd would challenge the householder to compete with him in singing and versifying. If the Mari could "subdue the inmates with superior witticisms and extempore humorous rhymes" the party might be invited inside to partake of Festive cheer.

Sharon Donovan said...

Fascinating, Lyn. You know I've heard of the "Mari Wlyd" and find it a bit chilling. I wonder if it ever scared any of the youngsters? It rather reminds me of Halloween custom opposed to New Year. But thank you for giving me some new traditions and legends to add to my collection. I've always been drawn to the Welsh sprig, even before I knew I had Welsh blood running in my veins! Yes, I'm a big one for legends, as you know and never tire of hearing the old and the new. Wishing you a happy 2010, dear friend.

Anna Kathryn Lanier said...

Great post, Sharon. Eating Black-eyed peas on New Year's Day is about the only tradition I remember my family doing.

Happy New Year!

Lynne Roberts said...

I loved these traditions! My grandmother is English and Welsh, but we always ate Hoppin' John for new years. She believed in the tradition so strongly, I remember her placing a bean and a few pieces of rice in my sister's mouth when she wouldn't wake up before noon.

I love Lyn's additions too! And now I have a very good excuse not to do laundry today. :)


Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Anna, you know at the risk of sounding naive, what exactly is a black eye pea? And how do they differ from regular peas? LOL But anyway, thanks for sharing your tradition. Love to add the new to my collection. Wishing you well wishes for 2010!

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Lynn,
LOL Now we all have the perfect excuse for not doing the laundry. And let's add to the list. No cleaning, cooking or anything but rest on New Year's! Now, tell me. What in the heck is Hoppin' John? Happy 2010!

Mary Ricksen said...

Happy New Year Lyn! My grandmother who I am named after, came over from Poland at 10. She made the best, (now I'm not sure of the spelling)
gwumkies on Christmas.
My Irish grandfather was in the RNA and had to come here to escape being killed.
My Italian grandfather made ravioli every Christmas, all the way from scratch.
Now that leaves one grandmother. She was a spoiled woman whose husbands waited on her hand and foot. But she made the best apple pies. She was half French Canadian and half Abenaki Indian.
So Sharon I am a mutt!
Have a happy New Year all!

Sharon Donovan said...

Happy New Year to you, Mary! Mmm. You're making me hungry with all that food. My mom and her Polish family make the cabbage rolls and call them that and I have no idea how to spell them either. But they sure are good. And your rich family history makes you the gem you are. Never change, dear friend!

Lynne Roberts said...

Sharon, Hoppin' John is a dish my grandmother fixed every New Year. If you eat it before noon, it's supposed to bring you luck. She got the recipe out of the newspaper when she was newly married, but here is a similiar one from Paula Dean.

Sharon Donovan said...

Thank, Lynn. I'll have to definitely check it out. Like I said, collecting new traditions and legends is my hobby. I really enjoy hearing new ones, so thanks for sharing, my friend!

Cate Masters said...

Happy new year, Sharon! Wonderful post, as always. I loved the Irish tradition of opening the door to the new year and shutting out the old. We followed the Pennsylvania tradition of eating pork and sauerkraut for luck on Jan. 1. I never knew it was to fatten the wallet!
Hope the new year brings you good health, peace and happiness!

P.L. Parker said...

We must be so backward in Idaho. Never heard of most of these traditions, but loved reading about them. I don't know that we have traditions other than the rednecks going out, getting drunk and thrown in jail. Hee hee.

Sharon Donovan said...

Ah, Cate, my Pennsylvania buddy! Happy New Year! Yes, we had the pork and cabbage for good luck, too. Well, better to fatten the wallet than the waistline! Grin. Happy New Year and may all your dreams come true.

Sharon Donovan said...

LOL Patsy! I do believe we have our fair share of "rednecks" in every town, city, state and country! Wink. Happy New Year and toasting you for all good things in 2010!

Linda Swift said...

Hi Sharon. Great post and I loved all the comments, too. And I can answer the question about black0eyes peas. They are small peas,dark tan with a very black "eye" on one side. Eating them and hog jowl (whatever that may be) on New Year's Day is supposed to bring good luck. Happy New Year to all, Linda

Linda Swift said...

Hey, that was supposed to be black-eyed peas. It's late and I'm groggy. Sorry folks.

Julie Robinson said...

Happy New Year, Sharon, and everyone else. I would have commented much earlier, but got sidetracked by the Hoppin'John recipes and comments. I had never heard that name, though my mom used to fix what she called, "Ham and Beans." Pretty simple, huh?

On New Year's, I did A LOT of cleaning. I am making a serious effort to get things in order to write. I was drowning in my mess.

I like the tradition about eating pork. Hmmm , wonder if pork was a sell-out in D.C. for N.Y.'s day.
Sorry, couldn't resist.

Julie Robinson said...

Mary, just call me an American mutt too!!

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Linda. Happy New Year! Thanks for filling me in on the black eyed pea mystery. LOL Lots of great new traditions to add to my list. Wishing you well for 2010. Here's hoping all your dreams come true, my friend!

Sharon Donovan said...

Hi Julie. Happy New Year! Yes, the "Hoppin' John" had us all hoppping. LOL I'd never heard of that either. So glad to hear you have writing on your list. The creative process never sleeps for long! All the best for 2010, my friend!