Some folks I know spread silver coins on their windowsills for good luck when they usher in a new year.
By Scott Beveridge
From eating a dozen grapes to shaking at the moon at midnight, my friends and relatives observe some silly New Year’s superstitions in the hopes of having better luck over the next 12 months.
And if ever there was a crappy year to be swept out the door with a superstition, 2009 fits the bill. I mean this was a year to send to the trash with the power of a street sweeper. It will forever be remembered for its high unemployment rate during a recession that was on the edge of another Great Depression, as well as playing host to the devastating swine flu epidemic.
So it’s an appropriate time to share a few of the following tricks to deep-six the Os and welcome in 2010:
* A male with dark hair needs to be the first person through your front door on New Year’s Day. (My grandmother actually sent her young dark-haired son door-to-door in Newell, Pa., during the Great Depression in the 1930s to bid her neighbors good luck. That’s how much she believed in this one.) This story has a few variations, one of which requires the visitor to also be a tall man. Another version requires the man be given coins for stopping by. If you will be handing out money, let me know and I’ll be happy to perform my civic duty and knock on your door.
* Eat a dozen grapes one at a time at the strokes of midnight. That one has something to do with wine producers in Spain, possibly as a way for them to dispose of their excess grapes. Keep the leftovers to yourself, please.
* The woman of the house must wear a new apron on New Year’s Day, making sure its pockets are filled with money. Say what in 2010?
* Pull out your empty pants pockets and shake them at the moon at midnight. Tonight is a full blue moon, which is supposed to hold extra magical powers. I would not pass up this opportunity for juju. Ladies it’s OK to shake your purses. Some guys prefer to shimmy shake under the moon with their empty wallets in hand.
* Be sure to eat pork on New Year’s Day. A pig roots forward while other animals scratch backwards. For the vegetarians out there, point a bunch of asparagus tips to the front of a baking dish beside of a chunk of tofu. (OK - I invented the tofu mojo story - magic cannot help that stuff)
* Sweep the house clean before New Year’s Day and also empty the wastepaper baskets. I’ll skip these, but it would be really good luck if someone stopped by tomorrow to clean my house.
* Put silver coins on the windowsills. That way the burglar won’t have to dilly-dally to steal your coin jar.
* Burn a bayberry candle down to the base of its wick on New Year’s Day. You are doomed if someone blows it out before all of its wax is melted. Don't try this if you have young children at home.
* A Southerner I know says you should eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day because “it’s a penny in your pocket” for every bean you eat. (That isn’t worth the payout) Another Southerner-wannabe says she cooks greens because they represent the color of moolah.
* Decorate the gate or door to your house with kadomatsu, as some folks do in Japan. It’s customary in that country to place this decoration of evergreen sprigs and bamboo at entrances to serve as a temporary shelter for the deity, Kami, who delivers longevity and wealth at the start of each year. Hey, it looks nice and can be a good alternative to someone calling the cops on those who howl at the moon.