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New Year’s
Cleaning Superstitions

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December 23, 2020

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No matter where you’re from, New Year’s traditions fill our holiday celebrations with an abundance of wonderful food, parties, and, most of all, hope. Many cultures bring in the new year with some common New Year’s traditions, like kissing your loved one at midnight, sipping champagne, singing “Auld Lang Syne,” and eating black-eyed peas!

But some cultures focus more on avoiding bad luck when they celebrate New Year’s Eve than they do on partying. Superstitions vary from country to country, but a surprising number involve not cleaning on New Year’s day! From not doing laundry on New Year’s to celebrating with your livestock, it’s time to brush up on your New Year’s superstitions to ensure good luck.

Who wants to jinx the chance of finding love, getting rich, or some other glorious experience in the new year? That’s why you’ll be happy to hear that a common superstition worldwide is to avoid cleaning on New Year’s Day.

It turns out cleaning on New Year’s Day, the day before, or even between Christmas and New Year’s can bring you bad luck. Depending on which New Year’s cleaning superstitions apply to your celebrations, you may not have to sweep, mop, dust, or do laundry on New Year’s Day.

Is It Bad Luck to Wash Laundry on New Year’s Day?

We’ve heard that doing laundry on New Year’s can actually ruin the whole next year! According to superstitions found in cultures around the world, washing clothes on New Year’s could mean washing a loved one away in the process! This is a drastic proposal, but it’s a common enough superstition that many people avoid doing laundry on New Year’s day.

Other laundry-related New Year’s superstitions claim that doing laundry on New Year’s will mean you will have more laundry than usual next year. Washing laundry over the holiday can also mean washing good luck down the drain with the wash water. For similar reasons, many cultures believe washing your hair on New Year’s is also bad luck, so you may want to skip washing anything on the holiday to be safe.

Is it bad luck to clean on New Year’s day? Maybe it’s just folklore, but if skipping cleaning on New Year’s day gives us a shot at some good fortune, who are we to argue? While there are plenty of superstitions about what to avoid on New Year’s day, there are also superstitions that require you to take action if you want good luck.

New Year’s Superstitions From Around the World

Not cleaning on New Year’s Day may give you a dose of good luck, but avoiding New Year’s cleaning is just one of many superstitions. You might be surprised to learn there are plenty of superstitions from all over the world that involve making messes!

Here are superstitions from around the world to help you attract good fortune and avoid bad luck on New Year’s.

1. China

We’ll start with China because it seems to be where the cleaning on New Year’s Day superstition began. For centuries, the Chinese have believed cleaning on the first couple of days of a new year, especially sweeping on New Year’s Day, brings bad luck. Since this seems to be one of the oldest New Year’s superstitions, go ahead and skip the sweeping. We’re not sure if skipping vacuuming on New Year’s Day yields the same effect.

You’ll be okay either way because another Chinese New Year’s superstition says you should have a clean house before New Year’s arrives. You didn’t really think your house could stay dirty throughout the holidays in the name of good luck, did you? But no one said you have to clean it yourself. Let The Maids bring you fortune and happiness with our holiday cleaning services. But keep reading because you may be in for more messes than you thought.

2. Belgium

Belgians eat chocolate, kiss at midnight, exchange well wishes, and raise a glass to absent friends. In Belgium, you don’t just wish your relatives and neighbors a happy new year; you extend the courtesy to your livestock too! If you decide to bring your goats and chickens inside to wish them a happy new year, you may want to check out this carpet stain guide for some New Year’s cleaning help.

3. Peru

If you celebrate holidays like some Peruvians, you may have taken part in the Takanakuy, an annual fistfight with your neighbors on Christmas Day. You’d better take care of any bloodstains before they dry because you’ll be making an additional mess on New Year’s Eve. Peruvians also believe wearing new clothes, placing coins in shoes, and spreading rice around their home will bring them good luck in the coming year.

4. Switzerland

In Switzerland, superstitions thought to bring prosperity include intentionally throwing a scoop of what we assume to be delicious ice cream on the floor. The Swiss celebrate the new year twice because they follow the Julian calendar. That means ice cream on the floor on the 1st and the 13th! If you celebrate the new year like the Swiss, you should know how to handle ice cream messes.

5. Ecuador

If you celebrate New Year’s like an Ecuadorian, you’re in for a bit more extreme events. At midnight, people burn a newspaper-stuffed scarecrow that represents burning away bad luck. Ecuadorians are also fond of burning photos of the past because they may dredge up bad memories. If you indulge and burn photos, be sure to practice fire safety and use this guide for cleaning up burn marks and fireworks stains.

6. Brazil

If you ring in the new year in Brazil, you may end up washing clothes on New Year’s Day if you want to keep evil spirits away. You’ll also need to wear white to scare the forces of darkness away, setting up an evil spirit-free year. Brazilians also wear colorful underwear for good luck during the holiday, so check out our stain removal guide before New Year’s rolls around.

7. Estonia

In Estonia, the more food you eat on New Year’s Day, the more plentiful it will be in the coming year. How many meals should you eat if you want to celebrate New Year’s like an Estonian? Seven meals on New Year’s Day seem to be the standard, but nine and even 12 meals are considered even luckier. Popular dishes include sauerkraut and marzipan. If you bring in your new year as they do in Estonia, consider keeping this bathroom cleaning guide on hand.

8. Denmark

One of Denmark’s most popular New Year’s superstitions creates quite a mess, but at least you can do it outside. The idea is to save any broken dishes throughout the year and then throw the shards at the homes of your friends and neighbors to spread good luck. If you want to party like the Danes, grab some old plates and make sure those dishes are clean when they break.

9. Scotland

According to the Scottish superstition of “first footing,” the first person to enter your home in the new year determines your fortunes for the coming year. Who the Scots consider a “lucky” first-footer is very specific: a dark-haired man bearing a coin, a lump of coal, a piece of bread, and a drink of whisky is ideal.

If you can make that happen, you deserve all the good luck you can get. If you can’t, why not let one of our cleaning team members be the first one through the door? We’ll get your home sparkling clean after the holidays with one of our popular cleaning services and kick your new year off right.

10. Romania

If you want to know your future for the new year, you could read tea leaves or cards, but why not do it like the Romanians? In Romania, people peel onions on the 31st, salt them, and then read their skins to see the future. Give it a try—we’ve got you covered with our odor-eliminating guide. On the plus side, Romanians think cleaning on New Year’s Day is bad luck, too.

11. South Africa

South Africa takes a unique approach to New Year’s cleaning superstitions. All across the country, people celebrate by throwing all kinds of clutter out their windows. This “out with the old, in with the new” approach helps bring good luck and a fresh start. We don’t recommend throwing TVs, appliances, and furniture out your window, but we can help you declutter to get your shot at a fresh start.

12. Ireland

If you want to start the new year on a positive note, consider celebrating like the Irish. To ensure plenty of food for the coming year, place some buttered bread outside your door. The “modern” acceptable practice allows you to eat bread and butter with your New Year’s meal instead of throwing it outside. You can also bang a hard loaf of bread on the wall at midnight to get rid of evil spirits. There’s no mention if the hard bread should be buttered or not, but this butter stain guide should come in handy regardless.

13. Portugal

Before the celebration starts, the Portuguese make sure ALL hampers are empty in their homes as dirty clothes bring bad luck! They also believe starting the year with clean sheets can bring happiness to their love life, and arguments will set a sour tone for the rest of the year.

Bonus: More New Year’s Superstitions!

Many of us celebrate New Year’s with traditions that have been passed down through the generations, and many have their roots in good old superstitions. Here are four more New Year’s traditions recognized around the world for their good luck.

Midnight Kisses

A popular New Year’s tradition is to kiss someone you love exactly when the clock strikes midnight. This superstition says you can enjoy a happy relationship all year long if a kiss is first on your list.

A Full Wallet

Similar to the midnight kiss in that it sets the tone for the rest of the year, having cash in your wallet at midnight on New Year’s is thought to attract good fortune. There doesn’t seem to be a minimum amount, so this one should be easy for everyone!

No Tears

Crying, even with tears of joy, on New Year’s can be a bad way to start the year. According to some traditions, tears on New Year’s eve can mean tears for many nights to come. So think happy thoughts, and don’t get too joyful this holiday, or you could be in for a sad year.

Eat Grapes and Greens

Eating collard greens on New Year’s day is a Southern superstition that supposedly brings prosperity and good luck. If collards sound unappetizing to you, you can eat grapes instead. In Spain, eating 12 grapes at midnight ensures a year of good fortune.

Why let a dirty house, superstitions, and bad luck damper the brand-new year ahead when The Maids is just around the corner? You tackle throwing the plates, burning the scarecrows, and reading onions while we tackle the dirt, grease, and grime. Between the two of us, we’re bound to bring plenty of good luck in the New Year! Get a custom cleaning plan online, or call us to start the new year with a clean and healthy home.

New Year's Cleaning Superstitions Infographic

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