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Published December 27 2012

Benshoof: Overloading on good luck traditions for 2013

While New Year’s Eve is just another night for some people, I always value the end of the old year and beginning of the new.

Part of my enjoyment has to do with traditions that bring people good luck for the coming year. For my friends and me in high school, that tradition was a sprawling, epic hourslong game of Monopoly.

This New Year’s Eve, I thought I would try something different. To maximize my good luck for 2013, I decided I would try to combine several different traditions.

After a little bit of research last week, I came up with the following list of what exactly I need to do in order to bring good luck for the New Year:

• Eat grapes

In Spain and several other Spanish-speaking countries, people eat 12 grapes at midnight – one at each strike of the clock – to symbolize good luck in each of the 12 months ahead.

Along those lines, Scandinavians typically eat seafood at midnight, which is meant to represent good luck, long life and the abundance of food. If I want to be a good Norwegian, I’ll try my hand at pickled herring, which should also be eaten at midnight.

• Eat black-eyed peas

In the South, the tradition is to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day for good luck.

• Wear red underwear

Italians apparently believe wearing red underwear on New Year’s Eve brings good luck. What’s more, to actually receive that good luck, you’re supposed to throw out the underwear the next day.

This one seems a little dubious, as well as a waste of underwear, but I suppose I can give it a shot.

• First-footing

In Scotland, an old tradition still followed today is that of “first-footing.” This custom places significance in the first person to cross their doorway after midnight.

If the first person to step into their home is tall, dark or handsome, the tradition says that good luck will follow. And if that person brings with them coal, shortbread, salt or whiskey, all the better.

Though I may not be all that tall, dark or handsome, at least I’m not someone who may bring bad luck, such as doctors, ministers, grave-diggers or people with unibrows.

• Jump off chairs

In Denmark, people jump off chairs at midnight. This leaping into the New Year is also meant to secure good luck for the months ahead.

To recap, on Monday night I will wear red underwear, eat grapes and pickled herring while jumping off of a chair at the stroke of midnight, then let myself into strangers’ homes while bearing gifts of salt and whiskey, eat black-eyed peas and then throw away the red underwear.

This should be the best New Year’s ever.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535