The Navhind Times Archive

New Year! Old Traditions!

Zubin D’Souza


I hate New Year’s Eve!

I don’t think that there is any hotelier that really enjoys what goes into making New Year’s Eve special for people!

You slog for hours on end working your finger to the bone to ensure that a whole bunch of folks you don’t know have a great time.

People come out as couples or in groups; get drunk, act crazy and count down the seconds to the New Year.

They do this every year.

No changes to the program although the venue and the clothes may differ.

I thought that this particular New Year should be different. We should follow some of the old traditions that marked the passing of the old year and the dawn of a new one.

There are so many to choose from and most revolve on ensuring that the year ahead is an auspicious one.

I especially like the Spanish/ Mexican tradition of popping grapes at the stroke of midnight of the New Year. They pop in one grape for each month of the year and this has to coincide with the chimes of the clock. If a grape turns out to be particularly sour or off tasting then that is the month to watch out for.

In fact, many European countries use round fruits as a symbol of prosperity because of their sweetness and the round shape resembles the shape of gold coins. In Europe and parts of the US, they consume twelve fruits – one for each month of the year while in the Philippines, they eat thirteen fruits because they consider that a strong and auspicious number.

The Chinese have a small variant of this tradition where they consider oranges to be a symbol of good luck and even gift each other small orange trees on the day.

While on the subject of the Chinese, a tradition that is followed by that country and most of the South East Asian nations is that they prepare a meal that contains long noodles which are a symbol of longevity and abundance. In fact they even have a special dish which is referred to as long-life noodles.

A tradition followed on both sides of the Pacific is to include pork in the meal. This is because the rotund figure of the pig symbolises prosperity and the pig always moves forward, never backwards and is also considered a potent ideal for the start to an auspicious year. People don’t only stop at eating pork, they have pork shaped cookies, pork flavoured potato crisps and little paper napkins with piggy designs.

In Turkey, a pomegranate is the fruit to reach out for because the red colour represents the heart, virility and fertility. The seeds, because they are always in plenty resemble abundance in the coming year.

In India, every New Year has to have sweets – the sugar representing the sweetness the year should be bringing in. Milk represents nourishment and ghee or clarified butter is for purity.

In Italy, lentils are considered the right thing to eat at the beginning of the year as their round shape resembles coins and they plump up in water which also symbolises abundance. The Americans take this one step further and create a dish called Hoppin’ John which incorporates pork and black eyed peas. Any leftovers of this dish are called Skippin’ Jenny and denote frugality and promote prosperity in the year ahead

Greens are eaten because of their resemblance to the green paper currency notes used as legal tender.

Fish is a potent symbol of prosperity. The seas have always denoted plenty and the silvery colour of most fish and scales represent silver coins. Fish also swim in schools which stands for abundance and friends in plenty.

Corn bread is another American New Year tradition, used because of its golden colour. Often chefs would toss whole corn kernels so that it resembles gold nuggets.

So now, there you go with a whole list of stuff that you could eat to ensure that 2019 is the year that you always wanted it to be.

Happy New Year!

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