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Pass the peas, please

New Year's inspires tradition, superstitions

New Year's Day inspires all sorts of strange traditions meant to ensure luck and prosperity. Here are just a few:Kiss at midnight: Kissing at midnight ensures that the ties and connections with loved ones continue throughout the next 12 months. Failing to give a smooch to significant other at the stroke of midnight would set the stage for a year of coldness.Stock up: The new year must not be rung in with bare cupboards, lest that be the way of things for the new year. Stock the cupboards and make sure there's money in every wallet to guarantee prosperity.Pay bills: Don't begin the new year with household debt. Mail checks before Jan. 1.First footing: The first person to enter a home after the stroke of midnight should be tall, dark-haired and handsome. Ideally, he should come bearing a small gift. Bad luck will accompany a blond or redheaded person who is the first over the threshold and disaster will befall a home if a woman is the first person to go inside on New Year's Day.Nothing out: Nothing, even garbage, should leave the house on the first day of the year. If you have to make deliveries, leave them in the car overnight.Food for thought: Eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day is a Southern tradition thought to bring good luck and money. Other good luck foods include cabbage, sauerkraut and salt pork.Work: Do something work-related on Jan. 1, even if it's from home. Make it a token, though, because to engage in a serious work project is very unlucky.Clothing: Wear something new to increase the likelihood of receiving more new clothes during the following year. Do not do laundry, lest a family member be "washed away" (die) in the new year.Money: Don't pay back loans or lend money and precious items. To do so is a guarantee you'll be paying out all year.Just in case: Other superstitious suggestions for ensuring a happy and prosperous year include opening all the doors in a house at midnight to let the old year escape. Make as much noise as possible when the clock strikes midnight to scare away evil spirits. And don't cry. Those first emotions of the new year will follow you for 12 months.Sources: "The Encyclopedia of Superstitions," "A Dictionary of "Superstitions" and "Curious Customs."

Many revelers will drain a bottle on New Year’s Eve, but they might not know that to do so portends a prosperous and healthy year — according to superstition, anyway. Health care experts, law enforcement officials and your aching head may not agree.

It’s nearly impossible to trace the origin of the dozens of superstitions linked to the arrival of the new year.

New Year’s superstitions and traditions largely are based on folklore passed down through generations. In Moffat County, some superstitions and traditions have endured, and others have gone the way of witch trials.



“It seems to be human nature to assign meaning to coincidences and things which appear as portents and omens,” said Iona Opie, editor of “A Dictionary of Superstitions.”

Peas of mind

Some people wouldn’t dream of walking under a ladder or breaking a mirror.



Craig resident Lee Cotton said she wouldn’t dream of welcoming the new year without a bowl of black-eyed peas.

“That’s how I grew up,” she said. “We always did it for good luck.”

The tradition, popular in Southern states, is believed to bring luck and money throughout the new year.

“It’s always worked for me,” Cotton said.

She passes on the luck by sharing the tradition with friends.

Sheri Herod’s three sons went from temporary to full-time jobs in 2005. One got married, and another had his first child.

Cotton insists that the black-eyed peas Herod ate for the first time last New Year’s Day worked.

“It has been a good year,” Sheri Herod said. “There have been no major catastrophes.”

Setting the tone

The tradition may be popular in the South, but not here.

City Market Manager Kirk Mahaffie said the store hasn’t had a lot of luck selling black-eyed peas.

“They’re not flying out as much as we expected,” he said. “A lot of people here don’t follow that tradition.”

Mahaffie and his wife’s parent’s are Southern-bred. So he always greets the new year with a meal of ribs and a side of peas.

Some believe that the tone of the year is set by how it begins.

“I’ve always heard that if you’re healthy on New Year’s Day, you’ll be healthy all year long,” Craig resident Diana Cook said.

Beware of unibrows

Some strange superstitions aren’t very popular in Moffat County — or anywhere else for that matter. One such superstition has it that, if, on rising, a girl should look out of her bedroom window and see a man passing by on New Year’s Day, she’ll be married before the year ends.

In a superstition with roots tracing back to 1821, the first person to enter a home — ideally a tall, dark-haired man — should knock, even if he lives there. He should leave through a different door from which he entered. But be sure the handsome man doesn’t have crossed eyes, flat feet or eyebrows that meet in the middle, which is not so lucky.

It’s considered especially lucky if the first visitor arrives on a horse.

In 1866, doors were chained shut to prevent a woman from being the first to cross a threshold New Year’s Day, thereby dooming the occupants, according to the “Dictionary of Superstitions.”

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210 or ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.


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