Whether you call it tradition or superstition, many of us have things that we like to do to welcome in the New Year, whether it be making New Year’s resolutions, breaking said resolutions (who says that can’t be a tradition!) or sharing a kiss with someone special at midnight. In some parts of the world, New Year’s traditions are more physical, such as banging on doors with loaves of bread for good luck (Ireland) or throwing furniture out of the window (South Africa). But what are some of the traditions of the world that involve plants?
If you live in Peru, potatoes might figure a major role in your New Year’s celebrations, as it is traditional in some parts of the country to put three potatoes under a chair on New Year’s Eve, one unpeeled, one half peeled, and one completely peeled. At midnight, one potato is chosen blindly, and the one chosen is said to forecast the finances of the year to come. If the peeled potato is chosen, it will not be a profitable year. If the half peeled one is picked, the year will be normal, but if the one with all its skin is chosen, then the year will be full of bounty. No matter what, there are probably potatoes for breakfast the next morning!
In Spain, it’s all about grapes. As the clock strikes midnight, it is traditional to eat 12 grapes, one for each toll of the bell, to bring good luck for the coming year.
(Picture from: http://blog.wineontheway.com/the-12th-day-of-rioja-the-12-grapes-of-the-new-year/)
In Ireland, in the past, priests would give out mistletoe to protect people from evil spirits. In more recent times, this has grown into a custom whereby a young woman might go to bed with mistletoe or holly under her pillow, in the hopes of dreaming of her future husband.
In Brazil people dress in white and throw flowers (often white Gladiolus) into the sea for the goddess Lemanja, in the hopes that she will grant their wishes. If your flowers are carried out to sea then your wish is said to be granted.
(Picture from: https://laicismo.org/2012/iemanja-la-reina-del-plata/24725)
In Holland, Christmas trees are all heaped into a pile and burned, while people watch and eat a special kind of donut called oliebollen.
(For the recipe, click here.)
In contrast, in Vietnam it is traditional just before the New Year to plant a bamboo tree and decorate it to ward off evil spirits. The number of stems on the bambo has significance as well, three stalks bringing happiness, long life, and wealth, and other numbers bringing various good things to the owner. (Just don’t have or give four stemmed plants; four is very bad.)
Whatever your traditions to bring in the New Year, we wish you the very best of 2016. May it be happy and healthy and full of good things!