New Years Traditions

Graciella Arrascue, Staff Writer

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The holiday season is a time for celebration and tradition. The traditions that people participate in year after year connect them to family, culture and “represent beautiful and positive things,” said Cecilia Phelan Stiles, mother of junior Stephanie Stiles.
“It’s definitely the holiday that I find most connected to my culture and heritage so it brings back memories of my childhood,” said Stiles, who participates in many New Year’s traditions. She continues to do these traditions “because they are part of my culture and who I am. I also want to make sure my kids learn about them and follow them when they are older.”
Stiles grew up in Mexico and Venezuela, she has been participating in New Year’s traditions since she was young. In these countries, “the end of a year and how we celebrate it is extremely important. It is very important to celebrate and be grateful for the year ending and be happy and ready to welcome the New Year,” said Stiles.
Preparation for the New Years countdown begins during the day. “During the day; we clean and start cooking to prepare for the night,” said Stiles. As one tradition is to wear red underwear, they must buy the underwear ahead of time, “you’d be surprised how red underwear disappears at stores,” said Stiles.
When night finally rolls around, everyone gathers for “ a wonderful dinner filled with music and dancing,” said Stiles. Everyone prepares a suitcase full of clothes to represent traveling in the coming year and gathers twelve grapes. “Each grape represents a month of the New Year and abundance in each,” she said.
As midnight approaches, “We turn all the lights on in the house to welcome the year and when the clock strikes 12 we all scream ‘happy New Year’, hug every person in the room, and start eating our grapes. Then we take out a suitcase that we filled with clothes from each member of our family and walk down the street with it,” said Stiles.
“These New Year’s traditions, as crazy as they may sound, help to connect me to my childhood and growing up in Mexico and Venezuela,” said Stiles.
New Year’s traditions also take on many more forms in different countries. In Denmark, people throw old cups and plates against the doors of their family and friends in order to rid them of ‘bad spirits’. Also, they jump off of chairs as the clock strikes midnight “to ‘leap’ into January in hopes of good luck,” wrote Sarah Wyland, social media manager, and writer at World Strides. In Panama, residents burn effigies of political or television figures, the effigies represent the year they are leaving behind. In Greece, you will typically see people hanging onions on their doors as a symbol of rebirth. People try to predict what the coming year will bring in Finland. They place liquified tin into water and study the shape it creates. “A heart or ring means a wedding, while a ship predicts travel and a pig declares there will be plenty of food,” writes Wyland.