Senior couple dancing in new year

5 Traditions Thought to Bring Luck in the New Year

It’s a new year, and with the new year comes the hope for health, prosperity, wealth… and the luck and drive it takes to achieve that. The arrival of the new year brings with it a sense of new possibilities. Perhaps this is why more than a third of Americans list New Year’s Eve as their favorite holiday.  

To ring in the new year on the right note, many of us indulge in what we believe are lucky foods, wear lucky clothes, or participate in other traditions that we believe will help fulfill those hopes.  

Here are some of the most popular luck-generating New Year’s traditions in North America, and why we want to get lucky in the first place.  

Why We Want to Get Lucky in the New Year 

Today we celebrate the New Year during one of the coldest months of the year in North America, but it wasn’t always that way.  The celebration, which is a tradition dating back at least 4,000 years, was until about two thousand years ago celebrated on the vernal equinox in what is now late March.

In 46 B.C. the data changed by decree of Roman Emperor Julius Caesar, who reformed prior calendars so that they would synchronize with the sun’s passage. That meant saying goodbye to the new year that coincided with spring lambs and baby birds and embracing a chillier date on January 1.  Our modern Gregorian calendar, followed by most of us in North America today, continues this tradition. 

Some of the traditions we believe bring us good luck even date all the way back to the Babylonian period. Others are recent additions. But all of them speak to our intrinsic human need to generate as much good luck as possible as we brace for the year ahead. 

5 New Year’s Traditions Thought to Bring Luck

While you may have your own set of New Year’s traditions, whether it be a quiet dinner or out celebrating with friends, try adding some of these good-luck traditions, too. After all, who couldn’t use a little more good fortune this year?   

  1. Black-eyed peas for breakfast.  In the Southern United States, eating “hoppin’ John” a dish of peas, pork and rice is standard New Year’s fare said to bring good luck, peace, and prosperity. While there is some evidence of black-eyed peas being eaten for luck by Jewish people as early as 500 A.D., eating them with rice is an African tradition that spread throughout the Southern United States. The sides eaten with this dish also have great symbolism. Cornbread represents gold, and collards, money. Some even put a coin in the pot when the dish is stewing, and whoever finds it on their plate is thought to receive the most luck in the New Year.  
  2. The champagne toast. Raise a glass to the New Year with a glass of bubbly and you may be toasting in a year of good luck! While toasting to the new year isn’t a new tradition, toasting with champagne is still a relatively recent beverage of choice. The champagne industry invested in promoting champagne for special occasions in the late 19th century, and it’s now estimated that we enjoy over 360 million glasses of champagne on New Year’s Eve alone. 
  3. Fireworks displays. The tradition of celebrating the New Year with fireworks displays dates back to China. Noisy, shocking, and colorful, fireworks shows were believed to scare away evil spirits, and misfortune, clearing the way for a lucky year ahead.   
  4. Midnight kiss. Kissing at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s can be traced back to traditions in England and Germany. According to German folklore, “the first person with whom a person came in contact with dictated the year’s destiny.” So choose your kissing companion wisely. 
  5. Smash a peppermint pig. Throughout the holiday season, you can find peppermint pigs for sale throughout upper New York State. The act of hitting the pig with a special hammer and eating the piece that breaks off is considered lucky. The tradition of smashing the peppermint pig for luck dates back to the 1980s, though the pigs have been around since the 1880s.    

Make Healthier (and Wiser) New Year’s Traditions  

Many of us associate the New Year with parties and overindulgence, but there’s one New Year’s tradition that is focused on the actions we can take that will make us luckier in both health and wealth: making New Year’s resolutions.  

If you aren’t content to rely solely on a midnight kiss or fireworks displays to improve your luck in the coming year, try making some of these New Year’s resolutions: 

  • Eat more whole grains and vegetables. Focus on enjoying more whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables. Enjoying a diet full of foods like legumes, fish, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables can improve cardiovascular health, which may lead to a longer life. 
  • Take up a new, active habit. While many of us slow down as we age, it’s important to continue living an active lifestyle that fits your ability level. Exercise has numerous benefits, including improved brain health, improved quality of life, and better sleep. 
  • Get an adequate amount of sleep. Speaking of sleep, most of us don’t get enough. That includes older adults, who need just as much sleep as younger adults. Plan to get at least seven or eight hours every night, and let yourself sleep in on occasion. A few extra hours here and there help your body recharge.    
  • Plan for a luckier year. To make New Year’s resolutions that stick, create a plan with smaller mini-goals and milestones that you can celebrate. By creating specific and measurable goals, you make it easier to stick with your resolutions. After all, as the old saying goes, the harder you work, the luckier you get! 

Celebrate with Us at Abbey Delray  

If you enjoyed this article, you may also be interested in these tips for reducing loneliness during the holiday season.

At Abbey Del Rey, we celebrate the New Year with our residents and team here on our expansive campus in Delray Beach, Florida. With modern, resort-style amenities and living choices and a full continuum of care, we offer everything you need to enjoy a worry-free new year.  Come visit us to see how you could be spending the years ahead, or complete the form below, and we’ll be in touch.