Last updateFri, 15 Jan 2021 2pm

Tradition-hopping for New Year

New Year celebrations, with their symbols and rituals and hangovers, are generally aimed at chucking the past year and anticipating even presuming a new year of renewal, prosperity and good fortune.

Plus, a restored will to live.

This year-end, just about everywhere, parties and festivities have been or will be (depending on when you are reading this) muted and sober, with memories fading into the brain centers responsible for our vomiting reflex. So ...

If you are not consumed with tile-laying board games, and you wish to distract from the abysmal isolation and suppressed excitement of this year’s transition, how about a review of the less-familiar traditions of some other cultures and nations as they might celebrate the arrival of 2021? This exercise will at least widen our scope, intellectually.

Turkey: The Turks wear red underwear at midnight on New Year’s Eve, a gesture crucial to bringing good luck and avoiding trouble in the coming year. As long as they are also wearing pants.

Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela: Among these countries, the color of underwear is determined by the wearer’s specific aspirations for the next year. Red brings love, yellow brings money, green brings luck, and so on. And I’m guessing wearing no underwear means you’re just hoping to have a good time.

Italy: Italians also celebrate by wearing red underwear and eating really big meals. They even force visitors or anyone who comes to the door to eat really big meals until you lose consciousness. They will even ask visitors to look after the pasta sauce while they go out to shop for more food. (Anyway, that’s what it always seemed like to me.)

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