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Many different ways to welcome the New Year
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In years gone by, we have discussed New Year’s resolutions and superstitions. We all know to eat black eyed peas for luck and greens for money.  
Other countries have some unique ideas about the way to welcome the New Year. 
In Spain, it is customary to eat 12 grapes at midnight, one for each month of the coming year, to bring luck.  
In the Philippines, a mound of fresh fruit is piled high on dining tables. Round shapes representing coins are thought to be lucky. Eating round fruits is thought to bring good fortune. Polka dots on clothing are festive and fun. 
In Central and South America it is thought that wearing special underwear on New Year’s Eve is lucky. Vendors sell bright colored ones a few days prior to the holiday.  Red underwear is associated with love in the New Year and yellow is thought to bring money.  
Scotland hosts bonfires with citizens swinging fireballs on poles while pacing about supposedly symbolizing the sun to purify the coming year.
Whatever the country, we see the old year out and welcome the New Year in with all our new hopes, dreams and resolutions. 
In America a “Watch Night Service” is held in some churches. This is a worship service and Bible study held culminating at midnight with welcoming the New Year in.  Sometimes youth activities, refreshments, breakfast after midnight and even sleeping overnight in the church building accompanies the service as the New Year is welcomed and blessed.
New Year’s Day in America is associated with parades and football games. Gathering to watch the games and parades on TV, along with lots of good food is customary.  
Many communities, families, and groups have bonfires and gatherings. Back in the late 1950s and early 1960s the young people in the cities of Rincon and Springfield held bonfires. They piled lots of debris sometimes with a pole standing in the center to pile everything against. Old limbs, used Christmas trees, old wood, etc., was gathered. The young people tried to see if Rincon could light Springfield’s fire before New Year’s Eve and vice versa. They took turns watching the bonfire area ahead of New Year’s Eve so this would not happen.
Many celebrate by entertaining with parties including: bonfires, noisemaking, fireworks along with food and some unfortunately include alcoholic beverages. This makes for many potential accidents and tragedy in communities so people and party givers should act responsibly and have designated drivers.
Whatever you do for New Year’s Eve, try to be safe and take safety precautions with activities that are dangerous.  Make your new resolutions, eat your black eyed peas for luck and enjoy a healthy happy New Year from Historic Effingham to you.

This was written by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos, comments or information to share, contact Susan Exley at 754-6681 or email her at: