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New Year's Traditions

Do your New Year's celebration plans include ringing in the New Year with singing Auld Lang Syne, shooting off fireworks and then settle in the next day for some black-eyed peas? These seemingly very American traditions actually came from other cultures. You and your children can have fun discovering other New Year's traditions or even create some of your own.

Noisemaking and fireworks on New Year's Eve is believed to have originated in ancient times, when noise and fire were thought to dispel evil spirits and bring good luck. Fireworks were developed in China. Buddhist temples in Japan also make noise at the start of the New Year, striking a gong 108 times to expel human weakness.

The song Auld Lang Syne is attributed to the Scottish poet Robert Burns, but he actually revised it from a song he heard from an elderly man in Scotland. It was made famous by bandleader Guy Lombardo. The Scottish also celebrate Hogmanay, a New Year's tradition that involves visiting your neighbors' homes after midnight with small gifts and wishing them well in the New Year.

Some say the tradition of eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day came from the Civil War, when the legumes, grown to feed cattle, were eaten after many other crops were destroyed. The tradition, however, likely comes from the celebration of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, when is sometimes eaten instead of fenugreek, which has a similar name in Armaic.

The meal of black-eyed peas mixed with pork (Hoppin' Johns), turnip greens or cabbage and cornbread, however, is about as Southern as you can get. The meal is symbolic of having wealth in the new year --- the peas symbolize coins, the greens symbolize paper money and the cornbread symbolizes bars of gold.

As you and your children celebrate the New Year, try some different traditions from around the world and make some new ones. Do you have traditions you celebrate?

Sources:, Wikipedia

December 2011