Category Archives: Believe

New Year’s traditions focus on bringing good luck

For the new year, do you eat a pretzel? Kiss someone? Eat pork and sauerkraut? Clean the house?

These are just a few of the many, many, many traditions observed to usher in a new year.

If you make any New Year’s resolutions, you’re taking part in a tradition that is said to date to the ancient Babylonians — about 4,000 years ago.

Kiss someone at midnight? The tradition is said to have many origins. One such story dates to Europe’s Renaissance masquerade balls where, according to Encyclopedia.com, “Regardless of a person’s gender and class, sexual license was tolerated at masked balls so that men and women were free to indulge their sexual proclivities with persons of whatever sex and class they chose.”

And, the Washington Post says, English and German folklore suggests kissing the first person one comes in contact with “dictated the year’s destiny,” according to Joanne Wannan, author of “Kisstory: A Sweet and Sexy Look at the History of Kissing.”

And, in Scotland, revelers kissed everyone in the room. This way, apparently, nobody was left out!

By the way, what does your New Year’s kiss style say about you?

Among Irish traditions for ringing in the new year include cleaning, banging Christmas bread and the direction of the wind, according to the Irish Post. And, if you don’t have someone to kiss at midnight, place sprigs of holly, ivy or mistletoe under your pillow and you’ll dream of your future lover.

In Saratoga Springs, New York, smashing peppermint pig-shaped hard candies are said to usher in good luck.

Slow-cooked pork and sauerkraut are on the menu in many homes across Pennsylvania and Ohio on New Year’s Day. This German tradition was brought to America by the Pennsylvania Dutch.

Like many other traditions, this one is said to bring both good luck and prosperity.

The Germans brought another tradition — a New Year’s pretzel. And, you guessed it, this tradition is also said to bring good luck.

Spanish tradition calls for eating 12 grapes. You guessed it — for good luck.

Other traditions include choosing the correct color of underwear, breaking fruit, jump into water and light candles.

A Visit from St. Nicholas

A Visit from St. Nicholas
by Clement Clarke Moore

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle,
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”