What are you Doing New Year's Eve? Events in Boston, Traditions Old and New

Maybe I'm crazy to supposeI'd ever be the one you chose Out of a thousand invitations You received

Ooh, but in case I stand one little chance Here comes the jackpot question in advance: What are you doing New Year's, New Year's Eve?



I can't imagine Ella (whose voice I always hear with these lyrics) spent too many New Year's Eve nights alone, nor Diana Krall who also sings it beautifully. Me, I'll be hanging home, quietly with my boys. Maybe we'll pack a flask, bundle up and go check out ice sculptures. Check out Boston First Night for a full run down of the City's celebration.

In case you haven't made a plan here are some ideas out and about:


Most years we get some bubbles, I make some nibbles and we hang out at home with maybe a friend or two.

What will you do this New Year's Eve?

Do you have special treats you always make? Traditional dishes you must eat?  Special routines for luck and prosperity?

Roundup of Rituals & Foods for New Year's

Itʼs a natural time to reflect on the year thatʼs past and to think about the one just beginning. Every culture and every family has their own unique foods, rituals and traditions that welcome the start of each new year. These rituals help tie us to our culture, our people, and make us feel connected.

Here are a few New Year’s foods and traditions (including one of my very own) from around the world.

Foods Evoking Prosperity, Longevity and Luck

Black eyed peas – symbolize wealth. The peas (really beans) are said to represent coins, (sometimes served with greens for money, cornbread for gold)

Noodles – symbolize a smooth transition to the new year in Japan; longevity in China.

Eating 12 grapes – each one representing a wish. Spain, Mexico, and Columbia share this tradition, which may correspond to the ringing of the clock at 12 midnight, or the 12 months of the new year.

Red foods – mean luck; Lycheeʼs relative the Longan fruit has a red shell; lobster cooks up red…Lapcheong Fan, the Chinese cured sausages that are red and anise-scented and cooked in rice (fan), is another delectable red dish. Many cultures associate the color red with vitality or luck, and in some Latin cultures, red underwear is worn for luck or romance in the new year!



Whole fish – Chinese consider the whole fish to be a symbol of health and wealth, part of the circle of life.

Lentils symbolize money and are often served in Italian and Hungarian families. Like black eyed peas, they symbolize wealth and are thought to resemble little coins with their perfect round shape. Speaking of circular or round foods – in the Philippines clothing with circles on it is said to be auspicious at New Yearʼs, and the Dutch have a special fruit studded donut whose circular shape is also associated with New Yearʼs.

Pickled herring – In Scandinavian or Polish families at midnight a bite is taken to assure a bountiful catch in the New Year.


In some countries, old items are thrown out the windows of houses in a symbolic and literal “out with the old” ritual.

Fireworks – ward off evil in the New Year. Think of our noisemakers or of kids clanging pots – these noisy rituals can also be meant to scare away bad spirits.

Cleaning up, settling up – In both Chinese and Japanese families, debts should be settled and cleaning should be done before the new year begins. Chinese will also say no sweeping or cleaning on New Yearʼs Day because you might sweep out the good luck! Some even say not to wash your hair, lest you wash away that luck.

Red envelopes – Chinese children and single relatives are given red envelopes with small amounts of fresh bills.

Yellow underwear for love or positive energy – ask someone from Ecuador!

Puerto Rico and Spain – Suitcases – are put outside or walked around the block – to bring travel.

Creating New Traditions

Family-centered activities. Years ago, when I was single and protesting many couplesʼ parties or family activities, I created my own ritual.

It began when a friend brought me some special incense from an Indian reservation sheʼd visited. The note in the box said they believed that their hopes and dreams were carried to heaven on the smoke.

While many cultures smoke use smoke for this symbolic purpose, whatever oneʼs belief system is, this ritual is both freeing and centering. Itʼs a nice way to start the new year!

Each person gets two squares of good paper (I use handmade paper or rice paper) and a pen.

• Write on one piece – a grudge youʼre hanging on to, something negative youʼre ready to let go. • On the second piece of paper – write a hope you have for the new year. • Usually people get very solemn while thinking about what to write. It gets quiet. • Then, move to the fireplace or kitchen sink. One at a time, each person takes their folded papers and burns them. I like to begin with the “letting go” card.

It’s a great way to start the new year with a little less baggage and one more hope. Afterward, have a toast to the new year, make some noise, and let the fun begin! — Just donʼt sweep away any stray ashes, you wouldn’t want to brush away that luck.