This purging of clutter has become an annual New Year tradition for me. It began partly in response to feeling overwhelmed by the thought of needing to find new homes for my kid’s Christmas bounty, but I also really look forward to starting the New Year feeling recharged and renewed.
Traditionally, it was thought that one could affect the luck they would have throughout the coming year by what they did or ate on the first day of the year. Spending quality time with my family and having my house devoid of dust bunnies on the first day of January always makes me feel like I am off to a good start for the year.
Another (more fun) New Year’s tradition my family follows is the placing of a silver dollar in each of our bedroom windows to help usher in good luck for the New Year. I am not sure of the origin of this tradition, but it might be a variation of the belief that anything in the shape of a ring is good luck, because it symbolizes "coming full circle," completing a year's cycle.
The Dutch, for example, believe that eating donuts on New Year's Day will bring good fortune. Each New Year’s Eve, we give our children shiny silver dollars to put on their window sill, and I take the old ones (I’m amazed they actually keep them on their sills all year!) and put them in each of their memory boxes.
If you are hosting a New Year’s gathering, a fun touch of luck you can give to your guests is by adding a round appetizer or dessert along with the glasses of champagne.
Did you know it was considered particularly lucky if the first visitor seen on New Year’s Day happened to be a tall dark-haired man? You could, therefore, pad your New Year’s Eve party invites with a few more dark haired men as a special gesture for your guests!
Thinking about what kind of hostess gift to give with a bit of history and tradition?
I will be bringing silver dollars with me to pass along my family's tradition with my hosts, and here are a few more historical traditions that may inspire you:
The Celtic-Teutonic Druids used to make a gift of their holy plant mistletoe at the beginning of the Year. At first the gifts were branches from sacred trees meant for wishing recipients an auspicious New Year. This transitioned to offering gifts like gilded nuts and coins bearing the imprint of Janus, the god with two faces to whom January was sacred.
The New Year gift exchange was also a common practice among the English until the Victorian regime. Gloves were a usual gift. Also popular were oranges stuck with clove, used to preserve and flavor wine.
Even today in France, it is traditional to present gifts and greeting cards on New Year's Day. So, if you didn’t have time to send out your Holiday cards this year, you’re not too late!