New Year’s Day Superstitions


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I grew up in a family with a legacy of deep-rooted superstitions. An excessive amount of them, too. Not just eat greens and peas on New Year’s Day, those are relatively mild in consideration. With Irish great-grandparents with customs of throwing salt over your shoulder, never standing with just one shoe on, and always receiving gifts of money tucked inside purses as gifts, I learned from an early age that superstitions were serious business in my family.

It always seemed there was more regarding New Year’s Day than any other day of the year; at least in my memory, that was the case.

I thought I’d list just a few of them for you as you prepare to welcome another year.

New Year’s Day Superstitions

1. Do not wash clothes or dishes on New Year’s Day, as you’ll be washing for the dead in the new year.
Now, normally, I love a good excuse not to do laundry or dishes, but it seems like every year on New Year’s Day I actually need to do laundry and dishes. I think it’s just because I know I’m not supposed to do any. My grandmother also said you shouldn’t sweep on New Year’s Day. That’s good with me!

2. Do not take anything out of the house on New Year’s Day.
Absolutely nothing should be taken outside of the house. If you have something that needs to be delivered, go ahead and leave it outside the night before. Clear away your New Year’s Eve garbage before midnight so you aren’t caught with a pile of trash that you can’t do anything with on New Year’s Day.

3. Your first visitor of the new year influences your entire year.
My grandfather always said that your first visitor, called the lucky bird, in the new year would influence the entire year ahead. He would encourage us not to leave our house until our lucky bird came calling. Just a couple of tips on the lucky bird – it should be a tall, dark-haired man. He’ll bring you good luck. It should never be a blonde or red-haired man and absolutely should never be a woman.

To make sure you have a tall, dark-haired lucky bird, have one stand outside your front door at the stroke of midnight. Once he rings the bell, open the door and ask him to enter. Never reach outside the door to greet him, as in doing so, you would have exited before he entered.

4. Pay your bills on New Year’s Eve. Do not loan anything or spend any money on New Year’s Day.
Be sure to pay your bills before ringing in the new year. Write any checks and settle any debts you can before welcoming another year. Be sure not to loan anything or spend money on New Year’s Day as it guarantees you’ll be doling out money all year.

5. Work just a little, but not a lot.
Spend just a little bit of time on your work. Make sure you do something you can successfully accomplish related to your work. Be sure not to spend too much time working though, as that is very unlucky. This one can be a bit tricky and I’m still trying to figure out what my just enough time working is for New Year’s Day.

But the superstition I’m looking forward to taking care of as we ring in the new year is the traditional New Year’s kiss. Grab your sweetheart and give them a warm, loving embrace and kiss as the clock strikes midnight to ensure love and prevent a year full of coldness.

These are just the tip of the iceberg, but they will undoubtedly start your year off just right. Or at least my grandparents would think so.

Does your family have any superstitions for New Year’s Day?

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Robyn Stone is a cookbook author, wife, mom, and passionate home cook. Her tested and trusted recipes give readers the confidence to cook recipes the whole family will love. Robyn has been featured on Food Network, People, Southern Living, and more.

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  1. Kalyan says:

    I was told to put a jar if money out on the porch, on December 31st, to bring money. 🙂

  2. Kim Bracher says:

    Is it ok to let my dog outside on new year’s day. She will be the first one back in.

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      I never heard anything about a dog, Kim, but I’m sure the superstition is for a person.

  3. Marius says:

    My family has a superstition: on New Year’s Eve (31st December) you should have money in your pockets. It is believed whatever you do before or after or on the New Year’s Eve it will influence all the year, so have money.

  4. Thalia says:

    Has anybody actually not put these traditions in practice and something happened in their life throughout that year? I’m freaking out because I’m actually washing I have so much clothes and I did spend some money 

    1. Gem says:

      My family have similar traditions/superstitious.

      We don’t spend on the 1st of of the year so we won’t over spend(at least not as my son’s birthday is on New Year).
      We eat some type of noodles to have longevity life; we make sure we have 12 round fruits (to represent each month), wear polka dots to attract luck, and eat glutinous dessert-to have strong family bond.

      Oh! My kids jump as high as they can at midnight to show how much they’ll grow that year.
      All in fun!

    2. Robyn Stone says:

      Gem, most of your traditions/superstitions are ones I haven’t heard of. We may have to add some of those to our list.

    3. Sandra says:

      I went shopping one year, thus spent money…I spent money in one form or another every day that year!

  5. Elaine Powell says:

    An elderly lady friend said, On Jan 1, don’t exit from the same door you came in.  I have no idea what that means. 

    1. Robyn Stone says:

      Thanks for adding that one, Elaine! 😉

  6. Sandra says:

    This was interesting to find similarities from various cultures. I’m African-American and familiar with variations of 1 & 3. Don’t wash clothes on New Year’s Day, as you’re washing away someone (assuring a loved one’s death). Make sure a man first enters your home to ensure good luck/prosperity. Growing up we’d traditionally have greens, black-eyed peas, and jowls (ham for those who didn’t eat jowls) to bring prosperity. Because most fish swim upstream–I think–(emphasis on UP), this was a must-have food eventually added as well. They naturally move UPward, assuring success in your endeavors for the year. My parents were from the south and had many traditions and superstitions instilled at an early age. As our family grew and we grew in faith, we cherished memories and learned to embrace freedom from fearful superstitions. Be blessed!

  7. Sherri Whitt says:

    My grandfather was Born in 1896 he was Irish as well and would get up early on New Years Day to bring good luck to all his friends.

  8. Virginia Carpenter says:

    My grandmother and mother always made pillow cases out of unbleached muslim and cooked cabbage. The pillow cases were supposed to make sure you had money throughout the year and the cabbage was so you would never be without food. I always think about these wonderful traditions and I am sorry that I didnot keep them up.

  9. bridget {bake at 350} says:

    I have never heard of these!!! Mr. E invited some “guys” over tomorrow to watch football. I sure hope the first one in the door is tall and dark-haired. 🙂

    1. Robyn says:

      Oh yes! I’d certainly make them stand there until the tallest, darkest haired one arrived. 🙂 Maybe just slip some cookies outside for their wait tonight.