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Some New Year’s Traditions and Customs from Around the World

Submitted by Kathleen Stuck

Jan 15, 2023

Turning over a New Leaf. The dawn of a new year is opportune time to take stock of your life.

Turning over a New Leaf.

The dawn of a new year is opportune time to take stock of your life.

  • Jews who observe Rosh Hashanah make time for personal introspection and prayer, as well as visiting graves.

  • Christian churches hold "watch-night" services, a custom that began in 1770 at Old St George's Methodist Church in Philadelphia.

  • T

    he practice of making New Year's resolutions, said to have begun with the Babylonians, as early as 2600 B.C., is another way to reflect on the past and plan ahead.

Black Church Ceremony; Seeing the old year out and new year in

Putting your best Foot Forward (Scotland)

In Scotland, the custom of first-footing (or the first foot in the house after midnight) is an important part of the celebration of Hogmanay, or New Year's Eve day. After midnight, family and friends visit each other's home. The "first foot" that crosses the home’s door threshold after midnight is said to predict the family’s  next year's fortune. Although the tradition varies across Scotland, those deemed especially fortunate as "first footers" are new brides, new mothers, and tall dark—haired men (handsome?). Anyone who was born on January 1 is said to be a good “first foot”. A first footer usually arrives bearing gifts of coin, bread, salt, a lump of coal or whiskey.

New Year's Folklore

Some customs and beliefs are simply passed down through the ages. Here are some favorite New Year’s age-old sayings and proverbs:

  • On New Year's Eve, kiss the person you hope to keep kissing.

  • If New Year's Eve night wind blow south, it betokened warmth and growth.

  • For abundance in the new year, fill your pockets and cupboards today.

  • If the old year goes out like a lion, the new year will come in like a lamb.

  • Begin the New Year square with every man ( i.e. Pay your debts!).

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