Seasons & Sabbats

New Years Traditions and Magic: How to Have a Magical New Year!

When the clock strikes midnight, we kiss. Lavish parties are thrown. We eat collard greens and black eyed peas for dinner. We all have some sort of tradition for New Years but might not know where those traditions came from. Let’s take a look at the magical history of New Years and the origins of traditions we carry on today. And maybe you’ll add a new tradition to your New Years this change of the clock!

American New Years Traditions

New Years Eve is a big deal in the United States. People go out dancing, drinking and partying. Families feast on traditional dinners thought to bring good luck. And almost everyone finds someone to kiss when the clock strikes twelve on New Years Day. But where do these traditions come from? Is there magic in these New Years traditions?

Traditional New Years Meals & Their Magic

Have you ever been to a New Years dinner and someone said to eat the cheese? This is because cheese is said to bring good luck for the next year, and probably has something to do with livestock/cows and their monetary value back in the day. Why do people have feasts on New Years? The idea of sympathetic magic comes into play here – if we throw a big party and tell the gods/spirits we have abundant food, they’ll mimic what they see and give us abundant food in the coming year!

Hoppin' John or black eyed peas are eaten as a New Years tradition in the Southern U.S.

Ham, Black Eyes Peas and Greens

What about ham hock, black eyed peas and collard greens? Some Southern American families keep this New Years Day tradition alive for generations. But why? The ham comes from a pig and is said to “root forward” which keeps the family moving forward in the New Year. The black eyes peas (also called Hoppin’ John) bring prosperity and the collard greens bring money (the color of green linked to the color of $$$). Some folks even bake cornbread, which symbolizes gold or the sun. A dime put under the plate also brings money.

New Years Tradition of Kissing the New Year In

This seems to be a worldwide tradition but is prevalent in the United States, too. Kissing the New Year in requires everyone who’s awake at midnight to kiss whoever is close to them. This not only ensures love in the coming year but is thought to “purify” the kissers of the past year’s evils. Another love charm for New Years – wear a red garter under your clothes! Thought to bring good luck and love.

New Years Traditions & Magic for the Home

If you’re home for New Years, try some of these old New Years tradition and bring more magic into your space:

  • Have a bonfire and throw the ashes onto your garden for prosperity in the New Year
  • Clean your house on New Years Eve – first with fire (either in a fireplace OR by smudging) THEN with water (mopping, wiping walls and doors down, etc.)
  • NEVER do laundry or clean your house on New Years Day (it’s said whatever you do on New Years Day will set the tone for your full year!)
  • Dance around a tree on New Years Day to ensure abundance
  • NEVER remove anything from your house on New Years (it brings bad luck!)

REMEMBER: Whatever you do on the New Year sets the tone for the entire year ahead!!!

New Years Magic for the Party-goer

If you plan on going out New Years Eve, here are some simple ways to cast powerful spells for the coming year AND get your groove on!:

  • Wear a red garter for good luck and love
  • Kiss the new year in! Grab the person closest and kiss them at midnight!
  • Eat lots of cheese for good luck (hello wine and cheese plates!)
  • Dress in the colors or a costume to reflect your intentions for the coming year (gold and green bring money and prosperity, a cupid or goddess costume brings love, etc.)
  • Use noisemakers at the sound of midnight (loud noises are thought to frighten off evil spirits thus ensuring a happy new year! Kazoos, whistles, etc.)
  • Clink your glass before taking a sip – there’s a reason alcoholic beverages are called spirits!
  • Popping a bottle of champagne to ring in the New Year also brings good luck and happiness
  • Fireworks are thought to scare off bad spirits, also ensuring good luck for the New Year to those nearby

Hogmanay: Scottish New Years Traditions and Magic

The United States isn’t the only country that celebrates New Years. Nearly every country in the world has some sort of New Years tradition or celebration. One that we find most interesting is Hogmanay – the Scottish New Year. On Hogmanay, the Scottish families feast and throw parties and parades. They always incorporate fire into their celebrations, as fire is thought to purge the bad to make room for the good. In Hogmanay parades, you’ll see people twirling fire balls around in a haphazard (but amazing) fashion. The balls are then tossed into the water (sort of like an offering to the gods of old for a prosperous New Year).

Hogmanay: Origins and Other New Years Traditions

Scholars haven’t decided if Hogmanay’s origins are purely Gaelic or purely Norse or a bit of both. One thing is for sure – it reflects the old pagan ways even in modern times. A widespread tradition at Hogmanay is “first-footing” which basically grants the first person to cross a threshold good luck in the New Year. BUT the first person should always have gifts for the household residents. Traditional gifts include salt, coal, liquors, and desserts like fruit cake. Then gifts are also given to the first-footer by the household residents. Sometimes this tradition goes on for a few days!

New Years Traditions, Magic and Lore: How to Have a Magical New Year!!!

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