New Year’s Traditions

So what do you do for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day? The one ritual I have is to go over one or more of those month-by-month Year in Review stories, thinking about the year gone by, including thinking about the year gone by in my life. We never, ever go out on New Year’s Eve, but we do stay up until midnight. (When our kids were little, we let them stay up until the ball dropped on Times Square, not explaining that we were in Central Time and New York City was an hour ahead. They thought they were staying up until midnight, but they were only staying up until 11:00 p.m. CT. That was very wicked of us, I admit, to let them be deceived.)

On New Year’s Day, the custom in Oklahoma was to have black eyed peas for good luck. Then we moved to Wisconsin where good luck comes from eating pickled herring. Even though Wisconsin, on the whole, has had better luck than Oklahoma, we continued to have black eyed peas, which were hard to even find up north. I’m not sure what people eat for luck in Virginia. (If anyone knows, please tell me. At least it’s easy to find black eyed peas here.) We also eat junk–dips and such–on New Year’s Eve and throughout the next day, though by then, after the Christmas feast, we are pretty much tired of such fare and eager to get back to normal. That’s about it. Surely some of you have some better ideas, don’t you?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Walter Bishop

    Eating black-eyed peas at the New Year has been mostly a matter of tradition in my part of the South (Atlanta)–a relic of the hard times just after the War for Southern Independence when you were fortunate to have even such humble fare to eat.

  • Walter Bishop

    Eating black-eyed peas at the New Year has been mostly a matter of tradition in my part of the South (Atlanta)–a relic of the hard times just after the War for Southern Independence when you were fortunate to have even such humble fare to eat.

  • http://castingoutnines.wordpress.com Robert Talbert

    We have an open-house on New Year’s Eve. Also, our two kids are adopted from China, and in the past we’ve had a party with other families with kids from China to celebrate the arrival of the New Year — on Beijing’s time zone. That’s 12 hours ahead of our own (EST) and so “midnight” happens at noon. Nobody stays up late!

  • http://castingoutnines.wordpress.com Robert Talbert

    We have an open-house on New Year’s Eve. Also, our two kids are adopted from China, and in the past we’ve had a party with other families with kids from China to celebrate the arrival of the New Year — on Beijing’s time zone. That’s 12 hours ahead of our own (EST) and so “midnight” happens at noon. Nobody stays up late!

  • Bror Erickson

    So do we reopen the debate on luck vs. providence?
    Not that I believe eating black eyed peas for good luck, necessarily, is equal to being superstitious.

  • Bror Erickson

    So do we reopen the debate on luck vs. providence?
    Not that I believe eating black eyed peas for good luck, necessarily, is equal to being superstitious.

  • http://www.thegoodcity.com Jon Swerens

    Back where I grew up around Wheeling, W.Va., the tradition was to eat sauerkraut with kielbasa on New Year’s Eve — which my wife considers unlucky, because she doesn’t like even the smell of it.

  • http://www.thegoodcity.com Jon Swerens

    Back where I grew up around Wheeling, W.Va., the tradition was to eat sauerkraut with kielbasa on New Year’s Eve — which my wife considers unlucky, because she doesn’t like even the smell of it.

  • Don S

    Our son was born on New Year’s Eve, so we have traditionally invited families over to our home to help us celebrate his birthday, and to bring in the new year. They arrive about 9 PM and we just have a time of good conversation and family games until about 11:50, then gather to pray in the new year. After midnight, and prayer, we let the kids loose to bang pots and pans and set off party snappers in the back yard, and toast with Martinelli’s. There is nothing better than marking the passage of time with good, like minded Christian friends.

  • Don S

    Our son was born on New Year’s Eve, so we have traditionally invited families over to our home to help us celebrate his birthday, and to bring in the new year. They arrive about 9 PM and we just have a time of good conversation and family games until about 11:50, then gather to pray in the new year. After midnight, and prayer, we let the kids loose to bang pots and pans and set off party snappers in the back yard, and toast with Martinelli’s. There is nothing better than marking the passage of time with good, like minded Christian friends.

  • FW

    my best friend is from a southern and christian black family and their tradition is to NOT eat black eyed peas precisely because of the superstition….

    they make a cold salad out of them here that is delicious and fortunately for me, there is no aura of luck here surrounding them. just a question of how much flatulence they are going to give me…

  • FW

    my best friend is from a southern and christian black family and their tradition is to NOT eat black eyed peas precisely because of the superstition….

    they make a cold salad out of them here that is delicious and fortunately for me, there is no aura of luck here surrounding them. just a question of how much flatulence they are going to give me…

  • Tom Baden

    Being from Texas, our fare includes the above-mentioned black-eyed peas, plus ham and cornbread, for New Year’s Day. The midnight fireworks extravaganza challenges the 4th of July in bombastic intensity! Now, if only Texas A&M could learn to win a football bowl game at this time of the year, things would be even better.

  • Tom Baden

    Being from Texas, our fare includes the above-mentioned black-eyed peas, plus ham and cornbread, for New Year’s Day. The midnight fireworks extravaganza challenges the 4th of July in bombastic intensity! Now, if only Texas A&M could learn to win a football bowl game at this time of the year, things would be even better.

  • Bror Erickson

    Where I come from it is bad luck to toast with Apple juice, sparkling or not.

  • Bror Erickson

    Where I come from it is bad luck to toast with Apple juice, sparkling or not.

  • http://seconddrafts.wordpress.com Craig

    We’re doing the 11 p.m. thing tonight with our four little girls, though we’ve told them about the time zone difference (we’re in St. Louis) so as to avoid any guilt over the matter.

    As for food, my folks always eat ham and beans on New Year’s day, though I’m not sure there’s any particular reason.

  • http://seconddrafts.wordpress.com Craig

    We’re doing the 11 p.m. thing tonight with our four little girls, though we’ve told them about the time zone difference (we’re in St. Louis) so as to avoid any guilt over the matter.

    As for food, my folks always eat ham and beans on New Year’s day, though I’m not sure there’s any particular reason.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    My husband and I just came back from an early dinner with my parents followed by a Minnesota Wild game versus the San Jose Sharks (we lost). We usually go out to dinner with my parents on New Year’s Eve, now that our kids are teens and have much better people to hang with than Mom and Dad! (I am not offended in the least).

    New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are rare days off for us, so we usually end up cleaning and/or working on unfinished projects. About the only tradition I can think of is that the ornaments must be off the tree and neatly packed away, and the Christmas tree must be out of the house, by New Year’s Day or the following weekend, for various reasons including (reasonable) fear of fire and a return to our normally busy schedule. Being a hockey family, New Year’s usually represents a very brief respite in the middle of a busy calendar of games.

    Also, we always try to go to the New Year’s Eve Holy Communion service at our church.

    One last tradition, of sorts, is that it is our son’s birthday on the 30th, so the whole New Year’s holiday time centers around his birthday. I would think it’s kinda of a bummer to have your birthday around the holidays; its hard to plan a party or even expect gifts after everyone is so full and so broke. Poor guy! (Just kidding – the kid is very blessed).

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    My husband and I just came back from an early dinner with my parents followed by a Minnesota Wild game versus the San Jose Sharks (we lost). We usually go out to dinner with my parents on New Year’s Eve, now that our kids are teens and have much better people to hang with than Mom and Dad! (I am not offended in the least).

    New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are rare days off for us, so we usually end up cleaning and/or working on unfinished projects. About the only tradition I can think of is that the ornaments must be off the tree and neatly packed away, and the Christmas tree must be out of the house, by New Year’s Day or the following weekend, for various reasons including (reasonable) fear of fire and a return to our normally busy schedule. Being a hockey family, New Year’s usually represents a very brief respite in the middle of a busy calendar of games.

    Also, we always try to go to the New Year’s Eve Holy Communion service at our church.

    One last tradition, of sorts, is that it is our son’s birthday on the 30th, so the whole New Year’s holiday time centers around his birthday. I would think it’s kinda of a bummer to have your birthday around the holidays; its hard to plan a party or even expect gifts after everyone is so full and so broke. Poor guy! (Just kidding – the kid is very blessed).

  • Henry

    Tradition in Pennsylvania with the PA Dutch is to have sauerkraut and pork.

  • Henry

    Tradition in Pennsylvania with the PA Dutch is to have sauerkraut and pork.

  • http://www.LutheranLucciola.blogspot.com Lutheran Lucciola

    Well, the “tradition” of my friends and I used to be party-party-party, with music and various substances…not too crazy, though. But truthfully I haven’t had a tradition for years surrounding New Years, as it always was a time to stay home. City life can get crazy.

    The most fun I have had on any Eve was doing the First Night stuff, back in Montclair, NJ. That was sweet and fun, local bands and artists getting down…..lot’s of fun!

  • http://www.LutheranLucciola.blogspot.com Lutheran Lucciola

    Well, the “tradition” of my friends and I used to be party-party-party, with music and various substances…not too crazy, though. But truthfully I haven’t had a tradition for years surrounding New Years, as it always was a time to stay home. City life can get crazy.

    The most fun I have had on any Eve was doing the First Night stuff, back in Montclair, NJ. That was sweet and fun, local bands and artists getting down…..lot’s of fun!

  • http://blog.faith-filled.com/ Stephenie

    We have a tradition of playing board games and eating appetizers.

    We played Monopoly last night and have lots of leftovers today.

  • http://blog.faith-filled.com/ Stephenie

    We have a tradition of playing board games and eating appetizers.

    We played Monopoly last night and have lots of leftovers today.

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com Kevin N

    No place beats Bucharest, Romania for bringing in the New Year. Even if one wanted to go to bed early, there is not a chance that they could sleep as the clock nears midnight. The fireworks—some official, most unofficial and illegal—begin around 11 PM, build toward a crescendo at midnight, and then slowly fade away for the next half hour. We’ve even seen people launch rockets out of their apartment windows (safety isn’t a big concern here). The explosions echo and reverberate throughout our Ceausescu-built high rise apartment block neighborhood. It is actually a lot of fun; we find New Year celebrations in the States to be rather boring now.

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com Kevin N

    No place beats Bucharest, Romania for bringing in the New Year. Even if one wanted to go to bed early, there is not a chance that they could sleep as the clock nears midnight. The fireworks—some official, most unofficial and illegal—begin around 11 PM, build toward a crescendo at midnight, and then slowly fade away for the next half hour. We’ve even seen people launch rockets out of their apartment windows (safety isn’t a big concern here). The explosions echo and reverberate throughout our Ceausescu-built high rise apartment block neighborhood. It is actually a lot of fun; we find New Year celebrations in the States to be rather boring now.

  • Joe

    This year we did what I hope will become a tradition. After our New Year’s Divine Service, we gathered with friends from church with like aged children (ages 2 to 9; average of three children per family). The children played games as did the parents. The children organized a New Year’s parade with noise-makers and a silly chant. It was very cute!

    My only fear is that we will have to host next year ;)

  • Joe

    This year we did what I hope will become a tradition. After our New Year’s Divine Service, we gathered with friends from church with like aged children (ages 2 to 9; average of three children per family). The children played games as did the parents. The children organized a New Year’s parade with noise-makers and a silly chant. It was very cute!

    My only fear is that we will have to host next year ;)

  • FW

    i just had my second new years here in rio de janeiro. observations.

    3 MILLION (!!!) people packed on just copacabana beach that is about 1.5 miles long. (norway has 4 million people in the entire country….) everyone dressed in white to waste good champaigne and flowers to the sea goddess Imaja ( formerly in more catholic times aka the virgin mary..)

    amazing fireworks display for 15 minutes. you could almost touch them they were so close.

    Conclusion :

    an evening of frenzied meaninglessness, drunkenness and pagan idolatry, following a christmas holiday where the lutheran churches had church on sunday and not on christmas eve or christmas day. no big hupla here among the pagans for christmas. that part was actually nice.

    Note for new year 2009…. plan to invite a circle of christian friends over for dinner and prayer at home…

  • FW

    i just had my second new years here in rio de janeiro. observations.

    3 MILLION (!!!) people packed on just copacabana beach that is about 1.5 miles long. (norway has 4 million people in the entire country….) everyone dressed in white to waste good champaigne and flowers to the sea goddess Imaja ( formerly in more catholic times aka the virgin mary..)

    amazing fireworks display for 15 minutes. you could almost touch them they were so close.

    Conclusion :

    an evening of frenzied meaninglessness, drunkenness and pagan idolatry, following a christmas holiday where the lutheran churches had church on sunday and not on christmas eve or christmas day. no big hupla here among the pagans for christmas. that part was actually nice.

    Note for new year 2009…. plan to invite a circle of christian friends over for dinner and prayer at home…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17639370291865261582 Cindy

    My husband and I intend to start a tradition of watching our wedding video on New Year’s, our secondary anniversary. Our wedding was in July, but we got engaged in the waning hours of December 31, 1999.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17639370291865261582 Cindy

    My husband and I intend to start a tradition of watching our wedding video on New Year’s, our secondary anniversary. Our wedding was in July, but we got engaged in the waning hours of December 31, 1999.

  • Rev. F. Bischoff

    At our house, here in Wisconsin, it’s pickled herring and cannibal sandwiches (raw ground beef on rye bread with a big slice of onion and lots of pepper).

  • Rev. F. Bischoff

    At our house, here in Wisconsin, it’s pickled herring and cannibal sandwiches (raw ground beef on rye bread with a big slice of onion and lots of pepper).


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