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New Year, Old Traditions

Black-eyed peas (Special photo)

Black-eyed peas (Special photo)

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Collard greens

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(Special photo)

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New Years at Times Square in New York. (Special Photos)

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(Special photo)

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(Special photo)

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(Special photo)

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(Special photo)

When the ball drops at midnight, it signals the time for a new year, a fresh start.

And many choose to get the ball rolling (no pun intended) on their clean slate by imploring a variety of superstitions and traditions, all intended to help ring in a new year full of luck, prosperity and happiness.

Areas around the country and in the world all celebrate in their own ways, with unique traditions.

Some are a bit more common than others, but whether or not you trust the validity of these superstitions, they can at least add a little fun to the day — or an extra vegetable or two to your dinner table.

Masks: According to tradition, masks symbolize evil spirits from the old year and kissed symbolize new, good treatment in the New Year.

Kissing at midnight: People kiss those dearest to them at midnight not only to share a moment of celebration, but also to ensure those affections and ties will continue throughout the next twelve months. To fail to smooch significant others at the stroke of twelve would be to set the stage for a year of coldness.

New Year resolutions: The end of the year brings reflection on the past and hope for the future.

Food: This tradition, common in the south, dictates that the eating of black-eyed peas and greens will attract both good luck and financial prosperity.

Work: It is said that one must do a token amount of work on New Year’s Day to ensure career advancement. But limit activity to a token amount, because to engage in a serious work project on that day is very unlucky.

Laundry: Do not do the laundry on New Year’s Day, lest a member of the family be “washed away” (die) in the upcoming months. The more cautious eschew even washing dishes.

New clothes: Wear something new on Jan. 1 to increase the likelihood of receiving more new garments during the year.

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

Breakage: Avoid breaking things lest wreckage be part of your year. Also, avoid crying on the first day of the year lest that activity set the tone for the next 12 months.

Letting the old year out: All the doors of a house must be opened to let the old year out and usher the new year in.

Loud noise: According to superstition, evil spirits and the Devil himself hate loud noise. Make as much noise as possible at midnight to drive evil spirits away.

Weather: 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. 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.

Born on January 1: Babies born on this day will always have luck on their side.

Around the world

In Italy, the star of the dinner is lentils, symbolizing money and good fortune for the coming year. Traditionally, the dinner in many parts of Italy is a large spiced sausage. The pork symbolizes the richness of life in the coming year.

Greeks eat a specially prepared cake with a coin in it for happiness and good luck in the next year. The first piece of the pie is left for a baby Jesus, the second for a father of a house, and third for a home. If the coin is found in the third slice, the family can look forward the happiness throughout the whole year.

Brazilians wear white clothes on the New Year’s Eve and if they want to fulfill their desires, they have to jump seven waves and throw flowers into the sea.

Filipino superstitions on New Year’s Eve make the suggestion to scatter coins all over the house and around the house to have money in the coming year.

In China, all doors are adorned with red because red symbolizes happiness and joy.

In the United Kingdom, people all over the UK cross their arms across their chests and link hands with everyone close by as Big Ben strikes midnight.

Happy New Year, everyone!