|Know about some famous New Year's Day traditions and the reason behind their observance.
This very popular tradition is said to have originated from the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia, and similar observances in Rome at year end. The explanation for kissing at midnight can be found in old English and German legends that state that the first person one meets at exact midnight hour of the last day of the year is an indicator of his future for the rest of the year. Hence, meeting and kissing a dear friend or an acquaintance just as the clock strikes twelve is a good omen while coming in contact with someone you do not like too much and kissing him/her is supposed to bring misfortune in the course of the coming year. Lovers or married couples kiss each other at midnight with the belief that it will keep the warmth in their relationship alive throughout the year. But not kissing at this time may give rise to coldness in the coming year.
New Year Resolutions
Possibly the best known new year custom is the making of New Year's resolutions. This unique custom is said to have been originated by the ancient Babylonians, but while the most popular resolution of these Mesopotamians was to return borrowed farm equipment, people of modern times resolve to lose weight, quit smoking or stop drinking alcohol. The New Year resolutions represent the human effort to change themselves for the better at a time when there is a collective desire to go for a change and turn over a new leaf. There is hardly anyone who has not made a resolution during the turning of a year. However, the tradition is really hard to abide by and most of us have a habit of making and breaking New Year Resolutions.
In Western nations like England, Scotland and Greece, 'First-Footing' is a very popular custom. According to this tradition, the first person to enter your home on New Year's Day is supposed to be the indicator of the fortune of the members of your house in the upcoming year. So it was important whose foot crossed the threshold of your home on the first day of the year. It was once believed that if a handsome, tall, dark-haired man or a strong man on horseback turned up as the first visitor in your house on New Year's Day, it stood as a good omen. To secure their good fortune, many people made such persons stand just outside their home a little time before midnight and had him step inside their house just as the clock struck twelve to make him the first visitor. Traditionally, such a person had to also carry a present, preferably a silver or gold coin to denote wealth coming inside the home throughout the year. The custom still exists in many places. In some countries, the "first-foot" (as such a person is called) has to bring several gifts such as a coin, bread, salt, coal, or a drink (usually whisky), which symbolize financial prosperity, food, flavour, warmth, and good cheer respectively.
New Year Foods
As New Year's Day is all about making a prosperous beginning to the coming year, it is natural that the lookout for good fortune is carried over even to the foods that are eaten during the time. In western countries, it is believed that the consumption of certain foods on New Year Eve brings good luck to those who eats them. It is for this reason that feasting is an enjoyable and also a significant part of New Year celebrations. As New Year's Day symbolizes the year
coming to a completion or "coming full circle", foods that are circular or ring-like in shape are preferred most for consumption at this time. But the type of foods vary across countries. While donuts and pretzels are the lucky foods in the Netherlands, rice is thought to be a harbinger of fortune in southern US, while legumes with ham are suppposedly the harbingers of prosperity in many regions of US. Consuming cabbage is also considered a potential harbinger of good luck. Cabbage leaves are said to bring in paper currency.
New Year Parade
Organising parades during New Year's Day is a popular tradition that dates back to the late nineteenth century. The Tournament of Roses held in Pasadena, CA is one of the most famous parades organised in the United States on New Year's Eve. The parade began in 1886 when members of the Valley Hunt Club decorated their carriages with flowers to celebrate the ripening of the orange crop in California. The tradition caught on since, and the flower-decked carriages gradually gave way to floats that are covered only with fresh flowers.
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