5 lucky New Year’s traditions + how to do them in Birmingham

Wishing you a happy and lucky year, Bham. Photo via @hermez777 on Unsplash

I don’t know if any fresh start will ever be as anticipated as January 1, 2021. It’s just the truth—2020 has been rough, y’all. We rounded up five lucky New Year’s traditions from around the world, and we’re telling you how to do them in Birmingham. We’ll take all the luck we can get!

1. Brazil

Eleven Eleven
Cozy and lucky. Photo via Eleven, Eleven Clothiers on Facebook

Brazil, particularly Rio de Janeiro, is known for having one of the largest New Year’s celebrations in the world. While my Southern grandmother might gasp at the idea of wearing white after Labor Day, it’s a tradition in Brazil.

On New Year’s Eve and Day, people don fully white outfits to invite good luck and peace into their new year.

Even if you’re just curling up at home this year, we recommend stocking up on white loungewear from one of these local shops.

2. Colombia

Gus Mayer
Grab your running shoes and any empty suitcase, backpack or tote for this one. Photo via Gus Mayer on Facebook

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to get back to some travel plans in 2021 (fingers crossed). This is a great one to try if that’s on your wish list as well.

In Colombia, many locals lace up their running shoes, grab an empty suitcase and run around their block as fast as they can. It’s said to guarantee a year filled with travel and adventure.

If this one stands out to you, keep the momentum going in the new year with these upcoming virtual 5Ks.

3. Denmark

This is exactly the kind of dish you’re not going to want to use in this tradition. Photo via Susan Gordon Pottery on Facebook

Let’s be honest, we probably all have a little extra frustration we need to get out after this year. Denmark’s New Year’s tradition is perfect for that.

Every year, Danish folk break dishware on the doorsteps of their friends and family (affectionately). The idea is to ward off bad spirits and welcome happier vibes in the chaos. Sounds good to me!

Psst: got extra dishware or fine china taking up space in your home? Check out this article for some ideas on what to do with it in Birmingham.

4. Scotland

This is a fun one. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

Scots take New Year’s seriously. Scottish culture is already rich in folklore, and their “First Footing” tradition is no exception.

The idea basically says to be selective about the first person to cross your home’s threshold in the new year. The ideal invite? Many Scots seek out “a tall, dark man” carrying ceremonial gifts—a lump of coal, salt, a piece of shortbread, whiskey, etc.

This supposedly brings luck and prosperity for the coming year. Read more about the tradition here.

You’re on your own in finding a guest, but if you’re looking for local whiskey for him to bring, we recommend picking up a bottle from Dread River.

5. Spain

Seedless recommended. Photo via @jeneyeo on Unsplash

Grapes of wrath, who? The Spanish ring in the new year with grapes of luck—12 of them, in fact. The goal is to eat 12 grapes in the last 12 seconds leading up to midnight, each representing a month of the upcoming year.

It’s an entertaining challenge to be sure—just make sure you don’t let any little ones participate in this, as it can easily become a choking hazard.

Looking for more ways to fit extra produce into your meals next year? Check out 17 ways you can get farm-fresh food via curbside or delivery in Birmingham.

Bonus: The American South

This is the New Year’s tradition you’re probably most familiar with. Some sources say this tradition hails from West Africa, some say it arrived in America with Sephardic Jews.

Either way, black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is a widespread tradition here in the American South. Some cook it with pork, some serve it up with greens and cornbread. However you prepare it, it’s said to bring luck and financial prosperity to your new year.

You can certainly prepare this at home, but if you’re over the holiday cooking, many local meat & three restaurants will hook you up.

What are your favorite New Year’s traditions, Bham? Let us know on social @BhamNow

Beth Cunningham
Beth Cunningham

A Birmingham transplant who can usually be found hitting a new hiking trail or restaurant opening when she's not writing stories and snapping photos for Bham Now.

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