I spoke to my daughter yesterday for our weekly phone conversation. As we were ending, I told her that I would call her on New Year’s Day, but I would wait until I think a man had called her house first.
You see, my daughter learned from my mother that bad luck would come upon your house in the new year if the first person across your threshold or who called you was a woman. It had to be a male in either instance, if one were to have good luck the whole of the next year.
So, when I lived near my mother and my daughter, I never visited them in the new year until they called and assured me that the necessary male presence had been fulfilled. I didn’t believe it, but I honored their beliefs.
I grew up with traditions that had to be observed. The people of the district where I was raised were convinced that if you wanted the good luck of the present year to segue into the new year, you had to take the superstitions into account. Failure to do so could even lead to death in the family.
For example, if you washed clothes on New Year’s Day, you would “wash” someone out of your family in the new year, meaning that someone would needlessly die because of your laziness. No one wanted that responsibility, so we spent the whole of the last week of each year washing clothes, and this was back before electric washers.
We hung clothes outside on a clothes line to dry, and the clothes would freeze before you could finish hanging them up! But, my aunts thought that your discomfort was noting compared to the grief of losing a family member.
Another superstition was ensuring that you ate the right foods on New Year’s Day. You had to have collards or turnip greens or cabbage, to ensure that you had money all year. You had black-eyes peas for luck and prosperity. You had ham, not turkey, or chitterlings (don’t even get me started on these!). I don’t know why, because by now, you should’ve had the wealth covered with leafy vegetables and peas!
I stopped believing most of these superstitions as a child, as I noted that, even though we did everything “right, ” we were still poor as church mice. Moreover, calamities and violence still came, as they always do when you place people with little to no hope together.
Also, I was baptized when I was nine years old, and from that moment until today, I have placed my faith in God to protect, provide, and problem solve in my life. I don’t judge people who believe in superstitions, because I don’t have all of the answers. But for me, it is the promises of God that guide my behavior and my prayers for the new year.
Deuteronomy 31:6 states, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Because I found these words to be true when I survived two violent men, I am convinced that I am never alone and that neither my actions or what I eat on a specific date will determine my destiny.
The songs that I learned in church, such as What a Friend We Have in Jesus and Pass Me Not, Oh Gentle Savior and I Got a Telephone in My Bosom, and I Can Call Him Up on My Own have stayed with me. As I hum them, I am reminded of the goodness of my Creator and Redeemer.
So, my resolution for the new year is to strive to know God better than I already do, especially God the Holy Spirit, to study deeper and with more intention, to be assured of what I believe. So, don’t worry, my female followers, you won’t cause me any problems if you wish me Happy New Year tomorrow before one of the males do.