I hope you all can bid farewell to 2013 with dreams in your hearts and books on your shelves. Folks around the world are celebrating the beginning of a new chapter of their lives with traditional rites that, although secular in the way they promote indulgence, have very deep and spiritual roots. Don't forget to wear something red tonight, to begin with!
One of the most cherished New Year's Eve traditions is to wear something red for good luck in the upcoming year. It can be anything: a dress, a pair of shoes, an amulet, a ribbon around your neck. In some countries, especially Latin ones, this tradition serves a 'romantic' purpose: South-Americans, Spanish, and Italians will wear red 'unmentionables' to propitiate love and passion.
Rituals to attract good fortune on the eve of a new year have been in use for centuries. Producing loud noises to scare evil spirits away, eating black-eyed peas, lentils, white grapes, pomegranate, dates, pork meat ensure prosperity as all these foods symbolize happiness and material wealth. The very idea of spending New Year's Eve partying has its origin in the Roman Empire. Ancient Romans used to celebrate the Kalends of January carousing for six days. Street dancing, sacrilegious songs, epicurean meals went on and on for days...boy, they knew how to have fun!
Red has always been considered an auspicious color, not only in Asian countries. The tradition of wearing red undergarments to invite luck, love, and fertility, possibly dates back to the Middle Ages. During that dark era, red dye was very rare and expensive and only wealthy people could afford it. Hence the idea of red as a color associated with material fortune.
Interestingly, wearing bright colors was forbidden during the Middle Ages, so people started to hide red and yellow (the color of gold) garments under their clothes: in particular, red underwear had a defense power. Witches were known for casting spells on reproductive organs. Having children was obviously considered a sign of good luck and prosperity, so folks began to wear red undergarments to protect themselves from a curse and ingratiate fertility. Interesting, uh?
If your wardrobe lacks red accents, don't despair. I think a book with a red theme in its cover artwork will work as well. Thank you for sticking around...may all your bookish dreams come true in 2014!!!