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New Year’s Day: Traditions and superstitions

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Welcoming the New Year has long been a tradition all over the world. Different cultures celebrate in their own ways. In Greece, it is customary to smash a pomegranate on the front door. The scattered seeds are supposed to bring good fortunes for the New Year. In Spain and Latin American countries, eating 12 grapes at midnight will bring good luck; a grape for each stoke of the clock will bring luck in each month of the coming year. And of course, a kiss at the stroke of midnight is thought to bring a year full of love.

In my family, each year my mother would make a New Year’s cake. Hidden inside the cake were a penny, a raisin, and a Hersey’s kiss. The cake was cut and passed around to each member of the family. The person who found the penny inside their piece would have financial prosperity in the coming year. The one who found the raisin would be blessed with good health in the coming year. The one who found the Hersey’s kiss in their slice of cake would be lucky in love. Every year for as long as I can remember we had a New Year’s cake with the hidden treasures. This year I find myself away from home for the holidays and was telling others of our family tradition only to discover that it is not well known. I did some research and have learned that the New Year’s cake with a penny, raisin, and kiss does not seem to be a custom anywhere.

Each of us welcomes the New Year in our own way. Many of the traditions that are said to bring luck or good fortune in the New Year are just superstitions, but we continue to observe them because they are fun. Some traditions can be traced back for centuries while others cannot be traced back further than your own mother. Every tradition that makes New Year’s special is worth continuing and sharing.

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