New Year's rituals from around the world [Family and parenting]

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My husband and I have celebrated New Year’s Eve from home every since we met (maybe that’s because I was pregnant by our first New Year’s together, but that’s another story). We like to sit back in our cozy den and make fun of the obnoxious party-goers out in the street with their loud, hedonistic, battle cries and over-priced cover-charges--they’re the amateurs, we say, as we slip into bed before the ball even drops. The next day, while the green-faced, hung-over crowd scrambles for their greasy breakfasts around town, we’re bushy-tailed, sober, and ready for the day. Ha ha, suckers!

 

If you have a family, New Year’s Eve is not at the top of the holiday list. To my knowledge, there’s not a better place to ring in the New Year than in your living-room. Just because your not grappling for your cosmo at the bar, pressed up against some wreaking frat boy, doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time with the kids. We’re no Puritans, we’ll have our bottle of vino or champagne, toast in the New Year with the kids and their sparkling juice, then call it a night. Check out some of these rituals from near and far to inspire your family on this New Year’s Eve.

 

  1. Make Party Hats-- My brother-in-law and his daughter have made party hats every since she was little and have the photos to prove it. Use rolled up news paper, ribbons, paint, glitter, pipe-cleaners, dried beans, or pasta to make completely ridiculous party hats. Keep a photo log of each years’ hats and remember them like ghosts of New Years past.
  2. Ready with Red--  In China, families welcome the New Year with the color red, which symbolizes good luck. Deck the family in red from head to toe, add red food coloring to your family meal, or make an obnoxious red desert, use red napkins and light red candles. Make paper dragons and order Chinese carry-out to make it even more festive!
  3. Black-eyed Pea Party-- Yeah, I know, kids don’t like them, but the southern tradition states these legumes bring good luck into the New Year. Make it a party by not only serving them, but playing The Black-Eyed Peas and having a dance party. 
  4. 12 at 12-- In Spain, the tradition is to eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight (never earlier or it doesn’t work) for good luck in the upcoming year. Create your own version by eating 8 of something at 8 if you don’t stay up late...if you’re willing to chance it.
  5. Japanese New Year-- In Japan, the tradition is to serve soba noodles on New Year’s and the longer the noodle you slurp at once, the longer your life will be. Add sushi, saki, miso soup, and edamame and the whole family will be happy.
  6. Noise Makers-- You’ve gotta have them. Traditionally, noise makers on New Years are used to scare away bad luck and spirits to welcome in a clean and positive new era. Use pots, pans, musical instruments and make a clamor on the front porch for a minute or two.
  7. Remember-- According to many articles on happiness, looking at old photos creates a sense of peace and well-being. Flip through old photos from the past year, laugh about experiences you finally can laugh about, and create a sharing time with your kids about what they appreciated in the past year. Set goals for the next year and light a candle to symbolize them coming to fruition.