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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

New Years: Traditions and Resolutions

Each New Year symbolizes a fresh beginning – an opportunity to release the events of the past year and a chance to start over. The holiday is enthusiastically welcomed in practically every culture with a shared belief that specific actions taken during this time can influence the fate of the coming year.

In the US, the event is celebrated with fireworks, parades, parties, making resolutions and a toast at midnight. Other cultures, however, have more unusual ways of bringing in the New Year.

Spain At midnight on New Year’s Eve, it’s tradition to quickly eat 12 grapes, one at each stroke of the clock. Each grape signifies good luck for one month of the next year. Finland It’s a custom to predict the coming year by casting molten tin into a container of water and interpreting the shape the metal takes once hardened. A pig shape signifies plenty of food, a ship forecasts travel and a heart or ring shape means a wedding in the New Year. Denmark Danes often ring in the New Year by standing on chairs and jumping off them together at midnight. Leaping into January is thought to banish bad spirits and bring good luck. Central and South America In Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador and Bolivia, it’s considered lucky to wear special underwear on New Year’s Eve.  Market vendors display brightly colored underpants days before the holiday. Red is thought to bring love in the coming year, while yellow is supposed to bring money. Belarus Unmarried women play games to predict who will wed in the coming year. A pile of corn is placed before each woman, then a rooster is let go; the pile the rooster approaches first reveals who will marry first. In another game, a married woman hides items around her house for unmarried friends to find. The woman who finds a ring will supposedly marry a handsome man and the one who finds bread will marry a rich one.  Scotland Custom dictates that the first person to cross the threshold of a home in the New Year should carry a gift for luck -whiskey is the most common. The Scots also hold bonfire ceremonies where townsmen parade while swinging giant fireballs on poles overhead,  that are supposedly symbols of the sun to purify the coming year. Philippines Round shapes (representing coins) are believed to symbolize prosperity for the coming year. Many families display heaps of round fruits on the dining table for New Year’s Eve. Others wear polka dots for luck.

Natural Awakenings readers share their resolutions for 2010:

I plan to honor my intuition and acknowledge the improbable truths I know deep down. Kali Ferguson

I wish for an abundant life with richness in every moment, contentment with things as they are, and the compelling vision to keep growing. Daniel McCall

To walk or bike more and drive less. Teresa Hernandez

I want to write my spiritual autobiography. Gaye Dimmick

I resolve to think before I speak; and then, only if it is kind, true and necessary. Marie-Claire Rolston

I resolve to love myself no matter what. Cheryl Oknefski CristiniI

I’d like to be grateful on a daily basis, all day long - like a natural set point, no matter what happens. Pamela Prince

I’m resolved to do it now. Enough of waiting, this is the time. Steve Nelson

Composting everything coming out of my kitchen and my yard. Going to see how close to zero waste I can get. Nadine Ford

Blending... I just bought a blender that has as much horsepower as a lawn mower.  Gonna get more fresh vegetables and fruits in my system, seeds and all! Jackie Burleson

Spend more time with the people I love. Shannon Binns

Be 100% present and fully engaged and live each day as if it were my last one. Susan McDonough

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