New Year's Day has always presented us with a chance for renewal and fresh beginnings.

Who among us has not made a resolution to lose weight, eat better, exercise more, stop drinking or smoking? Most of the time we drop those ideas in the first week, but it’s fun trying.

Celebrating the new year is steeped in tradition. My personal favorite is kissing the girls at midnight, but a close second is eating black-eyed peas and collard greens on New Year’s Day. There are lots of ideas about how that tradition came about, but all involve good luck. While growing up, I was taught to eat the peas and greens with gusto for the peas represented coins and the greens folding money.

Years ago, a family of folks from Scotland that I knew would carry the peas and greens in their pocket on New Year’s Day. They always laughed that they liked my tradition of eating them a lot better than their own. That same family made a point of inviting me to breakfast each morning on New Year’s Day.

Several years passed before I discovered their tradition was that good luck would come to those who had a tall dark man cross their threshold first for the new year. They would watch out the windows and chase away any blond- or red-headed person who tried to enter.

In Spain it is considered good luck if you can stuff 12 grapes in your mouth on New Year’s Eve. The Japanese get their good luck by ringing a bell 108 times. Quite a few customs include throwing things. The Romanians throw coins into a river, while in South Africa they throw unwanted furniture out the window in order to have a fresh start. In Chile they spend New Year’s Eve in the cemetery in order to start the next year close to their deceased loved ones.

One enduring tradition in the U. S. is to drink till you drop. I am fairly sure that time honored tradition will be observed all around Volusia County Monday night. On Tuesday, that will surely call for a non-drinking resolution.

Drinkers are not the only thing that will drop on New Year’s Eve. We will all go to the TV to see the ball drop in Times Square. All around the country things will be dropped to welcome the new year. Here I could list some of the odd things that will be dropped, but none can top the giant lady’s high-heel shoe in Key West. Oh yeah, that shoe will contain a large transvestite stripper. Can’t beat that.

Sloppy Joe’s in Key West will drop a much tamer conch shell. Sarasota drops a pineapple and Orlando drops a big orange. Miami on the other hand sends their orange upward to the top of a hotel. Go figure.

Oh well, it’s all in good fun. Let’s all have a safe time and drink responsibly. Be sure to have a designated driver. Eat your peas and greens on New Year’s Day and cheer on Central Florida’s football team as they play LSU in the Fiesta Bowl.

My own new year resolution is to fish more (is that even possible?) I do tend to make resolutions I know I can keep. Have a good time and I wish you peace, health and prosperity in 2019. Happy New Year!

Dan Smith is on the board of directors for the Ormond Beach Historical Society and The Motor Racing Heritage Association and is the author of two books, “The World’s Greatest Beach” and “I Swear the Snook Drowned.” Email questions and comments to or call (386) 441-7793.

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