A New Year…A New Decade

A new year… a new decade… a fresh start for new beginnings!  Ever hopeful, we ring in each new year!  And as with the other December holidays, traditions abound that unite families, cities, and even countries in welcoming another 365 days of possibilities.  I was raised to enjoy pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day for luck and my husband’s family made sure the meal also included black-eyed peas with a sweet relish to top it off.  Here a few more interesting traditions from across the globe!

In Spain, it is customary to eat 12 grapes – one at each stroke of the clock at midnight on New Year’s Eve. Each grape represents good luck for one month of the coming year. In bigger cities like Madrid and Barcelona, people gather in main squares to eat their grapes together and pass around bottles of Cava.

In hopes of a travel-filled new year, residents of Colombia carry empty suitcases around the block.  That’s one New Year’s tradition we can get behind!

Residents of Denmark greet the New Year by throwing old plates and glasses against the doors of family and friends to banish bad spirits. They also stand on chairs and jump off them together at midnight to “leap” into January in hopes of good luck.

In Finland people predict the coming year by casting molten tin into a container of water, then interpreting the shape the metal takes after hardening. A heart or ring means a wedding, while a ship predicts travel and a pig declares there will be plenty of food.

To drive off evil spirits for a fresh New Year’s start, it is tradition to burn effigies (muñecos) of well-known people such as television characters and political figures in Panama. The effigies are meant to represent the old year.

During Scotland’s New Year’s Eve celebration of Hogmanay, “first-footing” is practiced across the country. The first person who crosses a threshold of a home in the New Year should carry a gift for luck. Scots also hold bonfire ceremonies where people parade while swinging giant fireballs on poles, supposedly symbols of the sun, to purify the coming year.

You’ll find round shapes all over the Philippines on New Year’s Eve as representatives of coins to symbolize prosperity in the coming year. Many families display piles of fruit on their dining tables and some eat exactly 12 round fruits (grapes being the most common) at midnight. Many also wear polka dots for luck.

In Brazil, as well as other Central and South America countries like Ecuador, Bolivia, and Venezuela, it is thought to be lucky to wear special underwear on New Year’s Eve. The most popular colors are red, thought to bring love in the New Year, and yellow, thought to bring money.

An onion is traditionally hung on the front door of homes on New Year’s Eve in Greece as a symbol of rebirth in the New Year. On New Year’s Day, parents wake their children by tapping them on the head with the onion.

On January 2, the Cape Town Street Parade in South Africa (also known as Tweede Nuwe Jaar or Second New Year) sees thousands of colorfully dressed minstrels take to the streets in celebration.

As Tevye sang in the classic Broadway musical, Fiddler on the Roof– “and how do we keep our balance?  That I can tell you in one word… TRADITION!”

As you well know, we are deep in tradition @ the Woods, especially with the 2019-2020 academic year being our 50th anniversary for The Wood Acres School.  We embrace our traditions of the ginkgo tree and other school symbols, Constitution Day and special campus celebrations, as well as academic and learning traditions that enhance teaching and create a vibrant cohesive school family.  I am not sure our students will ever embrace my tradition of sauerkraut though!

As each of you have welcomed 2020, embrace your family traditions as well as the children and other family members who are part of the fiber of your lives throughout the new decade.  No one will remember page 50 in a textbook but each will remember the ceremonies and traditions of The Wood Acres School for another 50 years to come!