2010 is almost over, and just coincidentally, we've got some blog space to fill. So today we'll be wasting your time with a list of interesting New Year's customs that you may or may not already know. We're not just irritating, we're also informative!
Speaking of irritating, here are the Black Eyed Peas.
Wasn't that just a ridiculous video? But you have to admit, it makes a great segue. Especially since black-eyed peas are eaten on New Year's Day in the Southern United States, in hopes of a new year full of good luck. According to Epicurious, this tradition traces back to a Civil War miracle which apparently worked a lot like Hanukkah. The story says that soldiers running low on food survived on a small portion of black-eyed peas for much longer than you'd expect, and that's why their descendants continue to eat them every year. That's right, you just learned some history! And there's more of that sort of thing waiting for you right after the jump. See you inside…
In our opinion, one of the most interesting New Year's events comes from China. Yes, yes, the Chinese New Year is in February, but we're still going to mention it here. If you're somewhere with a Chinatown, make plans to welcome in the year 4708 alongside the locals, because their streets will be full of long, colorful dragons and friendly dancing lions. It's exciting and fun, and if you follow them around, you'll eventually get to see those lions "eating" some cabbages.
We don't recommend you try to offer real cabbages to real lions, especially if they walk up to you in the street, but in this context, the cabbage represents good fortune. Sort of like in the early 2000s, when rappers called money "mad cheddar".
Tibet also starts their new year late. In 2011, Losar happens around March 5th, and we've been told they'll be serving Guthuk, a dumpling soup with ingredients like broth, noodles, a sugar cube, a piece of paper, a wool string, a piece of charcoal, and more! While we Americans might find charcoal soup to be grounds for a health inspection, it's the Tibetan way of predicting your personal future. Like finding the ring in Irish barmbrack, only for Richard Gere and The Beastie Boys. Om Mani Padme Hum.
Another country with a great New Year's story is Russia. They've got nice architecture as well.
Russians celebrate on January 1st, just like we do, but only because they were forced into it. In 1699, Peter The Great just plain moved the celebration 14 days ahead, in order to force Russia to join the rest of the modern world. Russians being Russians, of course, the common man just couldn't let it go, which is how Russia wound up with a New New Year's Day on the First and an Old New Year's Day on the Fourteenth. We also have it on good authority (by which we mean our source is foodbycountry.com) that the holiday food of choice is pryaniki, a sweet cookie made to symbolize sweet wishes for a sweet future. It sounds very My Little Pony, but probably there's some sort of pit fight around the cookie jar. Really, don't mess with those Russians. Hard. Core.
But don't think traditions aren't still appearing. Some people enjoy Singapore's Lo Hei tradition which might possibly have started in the mid-Sixties. And then, there are the Germans. Those Hasslehoff loving Germans. Unless this is some ridiculous prank designed by Slate.com, the Germans have an odd tradition that dates back to the early Seventies. On New Year's Eve, they all turn on the television and watch Dinner For One an English TV play that… okay, it's never been aired in the US, so we have no idea. But thanks to Google, we can all watch it together right now.
It's not Patton Oswalt or anything, but it's not really bad. And anyway, who are we to judge? We're the nation that invented the Christmas special
Well, there we are. Five New Year's Eve traditions you may or may not have already known about. We'd love to find you some more, but it's our day off. Maybe you guys can research the other 190 countries on your own. It doesn't matter if you track down First Footing or maybe Algeria's Yennayer celebration, we want to see what you find. Feel free to drop what you find in the comments and discuss it with each other. Maybe we'll hand out some quality posts or something.