Christmas and New Year superstitions
Many people are superstitious and there are a lot of superstitions connected with Christmas and New Year’s Day. Most of them appeared in long-ago times. It was before the arrival of Christianity in Europe.
If the wind is blowing on Christmas Day, you are in for a good year.
If you want to have good health throughout the next year, eat an apple on Christmas Eve.
If you want to be happy, eat Christmas pudding on Christmas Day.
If you wear new shoes on Christmas Day, it will bring you bad luck.
If you refuse a mince pie at Christmas dinner, you will have bad luck for the coming day.
If you cut a mince pie, you’ll “cut your luck” too.
If a baby is born on Christmas Day, he will have a special fortune.
If you eat a raw egg before eating anything else on Christmas morning, you will be able to carry heavy weights.
If it snows on Christmas Day, Easter will be green.
Good luck will come to the home where a fire is kept burning throughout the Christmas season.
Mistletoe (which is usually beautifully decorated and put over the door) keeps evil spirits away and can improve your love life.
Christmas pudding in Britain is surrounded by many superstitions. It’s lucky to help make the pudding — so every member of the family takes turns to stir the pudding and make a wish. The pudding should be stirred clockwise and with a wooden spoon.
A silver coin in the pudding brings wealth, health and happiness to the lucky person who finds it, rings mean marriage within a year, thimbles and buttons mean that the finders will remain spinsters and bachelors.
New Year superstitions
If the first visitor at your house on New Year’s Day is an unknown dark-haired man, you’ll have a year of good luck.
If the first visitor has red hair, it’s extremely unlucky.
If you cry on New Year’s Day, you’ll be crying all the year.
If you lend anything on New Year’s Day, you’ll be lending all the year.
If you wash your hair on New Year’s Day, you’ll wash away good luck.
If you sweep the floor or dust the furniture on New Year’s Day, good fortune will be swept away.
Do you believe in Santa Claus?
Do you believe in Santa Claus? He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist. How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.
Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. But there is always a place for wonders in the world.
Santa Claus has a variety of different names in different languages, but they all refer to the person of St Nicholas who lived many centuries ago in Myra (present day Turkey). He was born in 245 and was an only child of a wealthy family. He was orphaned at an early age when both parents died of the plague. He grew up in a monastery and at the age of 17 became one of the youngest priests ever. He became widely known for his love of children and for his generosity.
St Nicholas is the patron saint of Russia, of children, and of sailors.
New Year around the world
Celebrating the first day of a new year is an age-old custom. People all over the world mark the coming of a new year. They celebrate the New Year on different dates, and in different ways. Some ways are strange and unusual.
— In old Denmark, people threw all their broken dishes against their friends’ doors! The family with the biggest pile on their doorstep had to invite everyone for refreshments.
— In Russia, there once was a custom to tie the feet of people sitting at the table on New Year’s Eve. This was to make sure that they would get together again at this table the following year.
— American colonists in New England celebrated the coming of the New Year by firing guns into the air and shouting.
— Today, New Year’s celebrations are still rich in old traditions. Women in Morocco, for example, make a fire of straw on the roof-tops, and sing and dance around it.
— In Nepal, a decorated wooden post is burnt, which represents the burning of the body of the Old Year.
— Hindus of India leave shrines next to their beds, so that they can see beautiful objects at the start of the year.
— In some places of Southeast Asia, people release birds and turtles to assure themselves good luck in the coming year.
— In Spain, it is a custom to eat 12 grapes at midnight.
— In Thailand, Buddhist monks are presented with gifts.
— Some people in Greece also play cards, hoping that a win will bring then luck for a whole year.
— In Italy, people traditionally include lentils on the menu. Lentils are supposed to be lucky and bring money — perhaps because they look like small piles of gold coins.
— In Scotland, New Year’s celebration is the greatest festival of the year, where it even has a special name, Hogmanay. Nobody, however, can successfully explain where this word comes from. After midnight people visit their friends. They carry cakes and spiced ale to wish their hosts a good year. The first visitor, or the first footer, must bring a special present — a piece of coal — to wish good luck and warmth to the house. The first footer may also bring a loaf of white bread and a bottle of whisky. He may also carry a silver coin to wish wealth.
— The celebration of the New Year is the most popular annual festival in Japan. At midnight, the bell rings out 108 times as a reminder of the 108 commandments of Buddha. Every person gets new clothes and takes three days off from work to visit with his friends. Each door is adorned with green pines, bamboos, red lobsters, crabs, and scarlet tangerines, standing for long life and happiness.
— Chinese New Year’s festival lasts for two weeks. It is preceded by an expulsion of demons and by theatrical performances. The most exciting event is the “Parade of the Lanterns”, headed by a huge dragon which is carried through the streets. As New Year’s gifts, oranges are given and eaten as a symbol of good health.