by Helen Xia, CHS Student Writer

There are a few commonplace practices during this time of year—or should I say, “new year?” We’re all familiar with New Year’s resolutions, but there are far more traditions to this rousing new beginning. After all, it only comes once every 365 days!

Beyond watching the Times Square Ball Drop and buying plane tickets to visit family, there are traditional New Year’s meals, too, including lentils, cornbread, and noodles—something I didn’t know until recently. Lentils symbolize good luck and abundance, for they expand greatly in size when cooked. Cornbread? Well, it’s gold in color, which equates to prosperity. The meanings behind these foods are more straightforward than you might think. Can you guess why noodles are consumed for New Year’s? It’s because the noodles are long, which represents living a long, fruitful life.

There are several amusing New Year’s superstitions as well, from opening doors and windows to avoiding chicken and lobster. Cracking windows and doors open supposedly releases the aura of misfortune and welcomes the new year. Why skip the chicken and lobster? Chickens have wings, and you don’t want your good luck flying away! (Even though chickens can’t really fly…) Comparably, lobsters move backward, giving rise to the superstition that eating them will cause you to also move backward in your progress. Hitting the ground running doesn’t help if you’re running in the wrong direction!

What would you do if you woke up to a pile of broken glass at your doorstep? You wouldn’t cheer with delight, I’m sure. In Denmark, the larger the pile of shattered dishes, the more luck it represents. Neighbors and friends throw kitchenware at each others’ doors, hoping to bring their loved ones the best upcoming year. Evidently, some traditions are region-specific—I don’t think this tradition would translate well where I live.

Is broken glass more concerning, or is an onion dangling from your front door worse? In Greece, it’s tradition to hang an onion outside your door for New Year’s, because it allegedly brings fertility and growth. The context behind this is how onions can reproduce asexually through bulbs.

How cute are we to create these endearing folklores for ourselves to celebrate special occasions!

There are countless traditions for New Year’s, alone. One can only wonder how many things are done simply because it’s tradition. When pondering this, I usually think about eating mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving and decorating evergreen conifers for Christmas. However, could some traditions ever be harmful to society?

If you’ve read the classic short story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, then the answer is clear: Yes, it’s possible for tradition to be detrimental. A classmate put it well: “[Some] traditions are the epitome of peer pressure. We do things because we see other people doing them, so we [subsequently] feel the need to do them too. If we always blindly follow what other people are doing, then we might fail to recognize when something is corrupt.”

Takeaway: Unlike what the title of this article suggests, it’s important to constantly question yourself.

Why do we have traditions in the first place? Is there a point? Although tradition has the potential to be damaging, to many, it’s closely linked to their identity. “[We have tradition because it’s] the preservation of culture,” my friend explained. “Also, it [gives us a sense of] purpose.” Indeed, what better reflection of an individual than their actions?

To some, tradition serves as motivation. “I think tradition is what keeps a group of people going forward [and shows] how far they have come,” another student shared. This is a perspective I hadn’t considered before; rather than focusing solely on the practices themselves, we can utilize traditions as milestones, especially taking into account how most traditions are exercised at particular times of the year.

Furthermore, tradition can serve as a relieving break amid something as spontaneous and, oftentimes, isolating as life. As my friend elaborated, “[The point of tradition is] to get family together and to spend time together. I feel like it is one thing that doesn’t change, you know? It is one thing that will always happen and that family will always do together.” With doings such as family dinners, exchanging presents, and celebrating relationships of all kinds, traditions undoubtedly illuminate the beauty of interpersonal connection. On that lovely note, are you planning anything to celebrate New Year’s? Perhaps reading this newspaper can become a tradition for you—not just for January, but for every month of the year! (We would certainly appreciate it!) We assure you that, unlike frantically cleaning your house and opening your windows every day, this tradition will not feel like a chore

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