Local News

Many Ring in the New Year With Old Traditions

Posted December 21, 1999

— In Raleigh, the acorn will drop on New Year's Eve, as it has for the past eight years. Across the region and around the world, people have developed diverse traditions for the midnight celebration.

"Parties have always been a tradition associated with New Year's," says N.C. Museum of History exhibit curator Dennis Daniels. "Probably the grandest parties occurred at the home of George W. Vanderbilt -- theBiltmore House."

Lavish tables were set with china like the ones on loan to theNorth Carolina Museum of History.

The exhibit includes other traditions from years past.

"Apparently at one time North Carolinians -- and throughout the nation -- well-to-do people sent postcards or greeting cards to each other on New Year's to express their wishes for the New Year and stuff," Daniels says.

That custom ended in the 1920s, but some other rituals have stuck around.

In the Gaston County town of Cherryville, they have been shooting in the New Year since the 1700s.

The tradition was started by German settlers who wanted to wish their neighbors well, so each year a group of men, and some women, fire muskets to welcome the new year.

In Chinese culture, the dragon symbolizes long life and prosperity. In the Pamlico county town of Oriental, it is a fixture on New Year's day.

New Year's Day is also a time of superstition. Many people believe that eating things like collard greens, ham or anything salted will bring good luck for the new year.

Others believe eating cabbage or black-eyed peas will bring prosperity and wealth.

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