Restarting Your Year Without Waiting For New Year’s Eve

Is it time to bring a bit of balance into your life?

There are a lot of traditions for starting your new year right, from eating black eyed peas and mustard greens, or round foods (symbolizing money) to burning sage. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait until December 31 for 2020 to get a makeover. Had I known what this year would be like, I’d have had the calendar printed on toilet paper and made a fortune.

I’m not normally superstitious, but I do believe that intention and attention can produce change. For one thing, focus can guide our choices and actions. Plus, there’s “the phenomenon of the observer,” where the presence of a person engaged and aware can produce minute changes in an experiment — nothing enormous, but it shows that even putting your attention on something is an action.

Rituals exist in part because they arise out of, and enhance, focus, and they’re reassuring. I’m a POF (Person Of Faith), but even if you don’t consider yourself religious, you can have your own rituals to bring about the conditions you want in your life by aiming yourself in that direction.

So on Sept. 22, I’m going to practice some rituals designed to bring health, peace and prosperity. I’ll meditate and take a “peace break.” I’ll also:

  • Eat black eyed peas and mustard greens, and round foods (like carrot slices and a cookie). These are all eaten to attract prosperity. The peas, carrots, and cookie represent coins, and the mustard greens (or other leafy greens) represent “folding money.” The black eyed peas and greens is a tradition from the American south, the “round food” from several countries. Maybe this is my chance to have a donut.
  • Sweep doorways and around windows, and the path to our door. This is so that good luck can find us.
  • Eat a marzipan pig (Austria). We’re going to get really full — but I love marzipan, so this isn’t a harship. Maybe the carrots, peas and mustard greens will offset the marzipan and the rest?
  • Eat 12 grapes at midnight (Spain), one for each hour on the clock, as well as rice (India & Pakistan) and apples dipped in honey (a Jewish tradition).
  • Make noise (multiple countries). I plan to ring bells and blow horns, but favored new start noisemakers include the drums. This is to frighten off evil.
  • Give a gift (Mark, you’re getting some shortbread — that’s a Scottish tradition).
  • I don’t have any borrowed farm equipment to return (a Babylonian tradition) or earthenware flasks to give (ancient Egypt), but I can wear colored underwear (parts of South America). I’m opting for green (wealth) and white (peace).
  • At least part of the day, I’ll open a window (Phillipines).
  • Sprinkling sugar (Puerto Rico) outside the house is to invite good in. I’d better do that far from the house, or I’ll also be inviting in the ants!
  • As I eat those 12 grapes at midnight, I’ll also sprinkle salt in doorways (Turkey) — thanks to author Marci Bolden for telling me about the salt tradition.
  • After writing down my good wishes for everyone I care about, I’ll burn them (many traditions burn things to send them upward and out into the universe). You, reading this now, know that on September 22, I will be actively wishing you well.
  • Finally, I’m going to bake bread with good wishes in it (Armenia). While the bread is kneaded, I’ll be thinking of those I love and wishing them well (and praying for them, ’cause, y’know, POF).

That should do it! The traditions I don’t get to (and there are more, for sure) I can try on New Year’s Eve. But this year can’t wait for a new start, so I’m throwing whatever I can at 2020. I mean, zombie bugs, a global pandemic, quakes, fire tornadoes and murder hornets? Come on! As far as I’m concerned, 2020 ends on September 22, and the rest of the year is just 2020, the Epilogue.

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