By The Whatleys
It’s that time again: ring out the old and ring in the new. New Year 2017 is approaching, It’s a time for reviewing the year behind, and looking forward to the year ahead. Making resolutions, celebrating on the Eve, and performing lucky customs — and avoiding unlucky actions — all play a part in ushering in the new year.
From the coast to the mountains, North Carolinians will be ringing in the new year in different ways. Acorns, pickles, and other “balls” will be dropped. Some drop twice: early for families and then at midnight for an adult crowd.
From “First Night” Raleigh to the celebration at Mt. Olive Pickle Company, festivities run through midnight. Indoor parties range from bowling to balls to bands! There are activities for all ages. Alcohol- and smoke-free events mix with champagne celebrations, giving a good variety of choices for local adults. Just don’t forget to make a lot of noise at midnight, a tradition for chasing away evil spirits and the devil!
And don’t forget to follow New Year’s traditions on both the Eve and the first day of 2017. Rituals passed down through the ages include opening all doors at midnight to let the old year leave, kissing at midnight, ensuring all wallets in the house contain money before midnight, and arranging a first-visitor to enter and bring luck after midnight.
Foods to eat, or avoid, also play a part in ringing in the new year. Some foods are felt to help bring fortune when eaten as the year changes. Cooked greens look like money, and collards may be served to bring fortune to the household. Eat lots of greens to bring the best fortune! Black-eyed peas likewise are thought to increase coin in the house — the peas look like coins, meaning this practice is essentially the eating of lucky symbols. Some participants even believe in eating one pea for every day (365, or 366 in leap year). Others prefer Hoppin’ John, a mix of the peas with pork/ham and sometimes rice.
Because pigs symbolize progress, since they push forward while rooting in the ground, eating pork is supposed to bring good fortune too. Pork’s rich fat content is thought to signify wealth and prosperity, and may be eaten in combination with black-eyed peas and other lucky foods.
Just a few foods are meant to be avoided. Poultry and lobster are thought to bring bad luck because the animals move backwards — representing setbacks or regrets — and wings representing luck flying away. This bears similarity to the practices of avoiding laundry and breakage on January 1 to avoid washing away life or cursing the year as it begins!
As the first line of a popular song asks, “Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?” This question calls us to think about whether old times should be forgotten, encouraging us to instead toast the old days and old friends. So while you plan, celebrate, and feast, send a happy thought to the old, but remember to look forward and not back when striding through that important first day of the year! Following these old traditions can help bring enjoyment of the coming good times and build hope for better times ahead!