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Ringing in the New Year with red underwear

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Author: Christine Graf
Date: Jan. 2016
From: Faces: People, Places, and Cultures(Vol. 32, Issue 4)
Publisher: Cricket Media
Document Type: Article
Length: 636 words
Lexile Measure: 1150L

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Wearing stripes, plaids, or solid colors to a New Year's celebration in the Philippines would be considered a bad idea. For the Filipino people, the holiday is all about circles--symbols of wealth and prosperity. People wear polka dot clothing, fill their drawers with coins, and eat fruits that are round. Stomachs are filled with pancit, a dish made with long noodles. The length of the noodles symbolizes longevity and good health. Filipinos also set off fireworks, blow horns, and bang on pots and pans to scare away evil spirits.

Throughout the Philippines as well as the rest of the world, people believe their actions on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day will impact their luck for the following year. Superstitions abound, and many of them are quite unusual. For example, in many countries including Mexico and Turkey, people wear red underwear as symbols of good luck. Wearing red underwear is especially important for those who are looking for love. People who are seeking money and wealth might wear yellow underwear instead. In Denmark, it is broken dishes that are a symbol of good luck. People throw plates at their neighbors' doors to bring them good luck in the new year.

In Italy, people let go of the past and embrace the coming year by tossing household items (including furniture!) out of their windows. Their New Year's menu is also influenced by tradition and superstition and often includes pork sausage made from pig's hooves. The sausage's high fat content signifies abundance in the coming year. Pork is also eaten on New Year's Day in many parts of the United States where pig ownership was once considered a symbol of prosperity. Pork B is served with sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) because cabbage and other greens, such as kale and spinach symbolize money.

In many countries, there are certain foods that are never included in a New Year's meal. Eating chicken on New Year's is considered bad luck because chickens scratch backwards in the dirt as they search for their food. Eating crab or lobster could also lead to bad luck because both creatures move sideways. Pork is a better alternative because pigs move forward and don't look back when foraging for food. Eating fish is also acceptable because fish use their tails to swim forward.

Instead of eating a special meal, the people of Spain eat 12 grapes as the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve. In order to achieve good luck in the new year, one grape must be eaten in unison with each of the 12 clock chimes. When the clock strikes midnight in Ireland, people ward off evil spirits by banging stale loaves of bread against their walls.

The Scottish and English ward off bad luck in the new year by making sure the first visitor to their residence is a dark-haired man. Females, as well as blonde-haired or red-haired men could bring bad luck into a home. The people of Ecuador are more concerned with any bad luck that may have plagued them in the last 12 months. They destroy this bad luck by burning scarecrows, some of which resemble people they don't like. Ecuadorians who hope to travel safely in the new year run around the block while holding suitcases.

Although some of these New Year's traditions may sound silly to outsiders, they are taken very seriously in their countries of origin. People are willing to do just about anything to ward off evil spirits and ensure wealth, happiness, and good luck in the coming year.

Caption: When is breaking a dish a good thing? In Denmark, a broken dish on New Year's Eve is a symbol of good luck.

Caption: Spaniards eat one grape at each stroke of midnight.

Caption: Round fruit is purchased by Filipinos prior to the new year.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A440916400