I’d like to think I’m not swayed by superstition.

A passing black cat can’t alter my fate, and no umbrella opened indoors has the power to drag down my fortune. Besides, a pinch of spilled salt couldn’t possibly have that much influence over a person’s destiny.

Could it?

Perhaps it’s still not a bad idea to err on the side of lucky charms and good omens. Coincidentally, New Year’s Eve is an ideal time to reverse fortunes, shake seven-year sentences of doom and shoo those evil spirits who’ve taken to loitering on the couch and eating up all your food.

Here’s a New Year’s good fortune roundup from around the world: 

• Red underwear. Bust out the bright skivvies on New Year’s Eve. Folks in Turkey believe wearing red undergarments brings good fortune in the new year. Even grandma may flash a red bra strap to show she means New Year’s business. In Mexico, red underwear is said to bring love, while yellow underwear brings wealth.

• Shattered platters. Those mad cats in Denmark show their affection on New Year’s Eve by smashing dishes on friends’ doorsteps. Wake up to stockpiles of broken porcelain at your door and consider yourself well friended. Or start the trend among your friends this year — chuck a few salad plates, toss a few bowls. Improve your efficiency (and stay warm ta boot) by throwing dishes from the driver’s-side window as you drive by. Your friends will thank you in the morning. Or not.

• Talking farm animals. Romanians listen for talking farm animals on New Year’s Day. Overhearing a herd of sheep engrossed in conversation means bad, baaaad things. Have a listen to your backyard chickens or your cat, and find out what’s stirring in their world. I tend to think it’s not if they’re talking, but what they’re talking about that may signal future woes. Who knows, the neighborhood canines might be planning you a really cool surprise party.

• Trash in, trash out. Some countries believe nothing should exit the house on New Year’s — not even the trash. But in Italy, it’s customary to chuck things out your windows to “symbolize your readiness to accept the New Year.” Goodbye, fat pants, out the window ye go. So long, you lifeless DVD player, you limp sofa, you ever-running upstairs toilet. (Note: injuring an unwitting passerby with said trash tossed from fourth-story window immediately negates any good fortune attained from initial trash tossing.)

• Burn something. In Ecuador, effigies representing the failures and regrets of the previous year are constructed and burned in the street as a symbolic gesture. Symbolism is all well and good, but I think it’s best to get right to the source of said hostility. Didn’t lose that 15 pounds this year? Send the fridge off in a blaze of glory.

• Open-window policy. Listen, the current year is just as eager to get the heck out of Dodge as you are to have it gone. But help a year out, would you? Open a few windows and doors at midnight. Like a trapped abductee, the old year needs an escape route.

• First footer. Plan for an attractive, tall, brown-haired man to show up at your door on New Year’s Day. The Scots believe the first person to set foot in your home determines your luck for the year. No unibrows, blondes or short guys. And definitely no women. Women are awful. It’s not uncommon for homeowners to arrange for an appropriate first footer. This tradition should not be confused with another tradition known as “the booty call.”

• Quiet, woman! In some parts of our blessed world, a woman shouldn’t speak until a man says “Happy New Year.” I imagine that men needing some January quiet time can hold off expressing their New Year enthusiasm (keeping the li’l lady silent) until early February — by which time they may have also unwittingly ingested a tragic amount of laxatives in their morning oatmeal (put there by aforementioned li’l lady who doesn’t find the tradition very amusing). 

So should you wake up New Year’s Day with a floor covered in ashes and garbage, a doorstep piled with broken dishes, freezing from the open windows with a strange dude in your family room (wearing a badge and holding an arrest warrant), rest easy.

You’re going to have a wondrous 2011.

Staff Writer Shannon Bryan can be contacted at 791-6333 or at:

[email protected] 

Follow her on Twitter at:



filed under: