By Gabrielle L. Wheeler
Times Square. Ball dropping. Toasting with a glass of wine. For most people in the US, this is the New Year’s tradition – whether getting to experience Times Square or tuning in on television. Around the world, cultures ring in the new year with different traditions and it might be fun to try something new to bring in 2019.
Break a Peppermint Pig™ – In the 1880s, Saratoga Sweets Candy Co. in Saratoga Springs, New York, released a new candy with the intention of inspiring a new holiday tradition: The Peppermint Pig. In Victorian times, the pig was a symbol of prosperity, health, and happiness. After dinner, those celebrating placed the solid, pig-shaped candy in a cloth bag and took turns smashing it with a small, metal hammer. Once the pig was broken, it was shared, and participants discussed their hopes of good health, happiness, and prosperity for the coming year. The Peppermint Pig is still made by the Saratoga Candy Co. and available at http://www.saratogasweets.com/peppermint-pig/.
Eat Grapes – Eating 12 grapes as the clock chimes midnight is the New Year’s tradition in Spain. Those that celebrate this tradition, eat one grape at each chime of the clock to represent good luck in each month of the coming year. Since I live in the Finger Lakes Region, does it count if I sip my grapes out of a wine glass?
Feed the Birds – One of my favorite New Year’s traditions derives from Scandinavia, where bird seed is thrown on the doorstep for good luck. Perhaps I’m biased because I’m Scandinavian or because I love birds, but it makes sense to me that being good to others – including our feathered friends – would promise good things in the coming year.
Clean the House, then Throw the Mop Water out the Window – In Puerto Rico, it is customary to clean the house top to bottom on New Year’s Eve. When done, the dirty mopping water gets thrown out the window to symbolize ‘out with the old, in with the new.’ I’m a little concerned about the technicality of this tradition as the storm windows are frozen shut in our New York winters.
Trying a different New Year’s tradition doesn’t have to take the place of watching the ball drop at midnight but trying something new while celebrating the holiday just adds extra fun to the season.