NYE: The Sober Traditions

Well, as I mentioned in my last blog, if you really need to find a 'new crowd' or a new tradition to maintain your sobriety this NYE, then so be it!

However, I realize this might bring up some stress and anxiety for a lot of people, in a day and age where we all like to know exactly what we are getting into before we sign on the dotted line. Whatever you decide to do this year, and no matter how out of place you feel, at least you aren't in a foreign country trying to navigate these (albeit still sober) traditions.

South America (various regions)


Choose your skivvies carefully- many countries in South America observe this tradition, wherein your color of underwear indicates the year to follow.

  • blue --> good health
  • yellow --> prosperity
  • white --> happiness, peace & joy
  • green --> better luck
  • pink --> luck in love
  • red --> romance & passion



Heavy Metal! - Not music, although that might be the case in some households, I'm talking about pouring lead. People will melt lead until it becomes a liquid, then submerge it into cold water. The shapes the lead forms upon rehardening in the cool water, predict your next year has in store for you. Just to touch on a few of the shapes and meanings, if the lead;

  •  balls up, your luck will 'roll' away throughout the year
  • forms a star shape, it means happiness
  • a cross means death
  • a crown for wealth



This is one I grew up with, in where you avoid eating chicken on the first day of the New Year, to try and prevent your money from 'flying' out of the window. Instead, pork-filled cabbage rolls and black-eyed peas are consumed in the masses. Galumpkis, as they are known in Poland, is a holiday comfort food for Polski's alike.

The cabbage meant to symbolize dollars, and the black-eyed peas to symbolize coins, the consumption of this dish on the first of the year helps ensure a wealthy year to come, according to tradition.



It's customary to splash water on your loved ones and family in this tradition, in an effort to start the new year with a cleansed soul and a clean slate.

Although traditionally, the Burmese observe this holiday mid-April in a festival called Thingyan. Typically it lasts three or four days and that isn't the only reason most western countries would find it strange.

If you don't believe me check out this list here it's a little longer than the one I've provided. There you will find odder and seemingly absurd traditions being practiced than the ones I've provided. You'd be surprised how many of those things actually don't revolve around alcohol.

When it comes down to brass tax, traditions only have as much weight as you give them, so don't worry about making some new ones. Sure they might seem strange to those who don't know you, but it's never been about them; it's about you.


It's about your sobriety.

At the stroke of midnight, smash an empty bottle to symbolize an upcoming year away from alcohol, or find an old one that doesn't even involve it entirely. Traditions stick when they hold symbolism and meaning, and what better way to celebrate sobriety than with a new symbolic NYE tradition?!


    1. I live in a pretty rural community outside of the Grand Canyon and we don’t do anything like that. It sounds like a great time though! I would be very interested in attending a First Night celebration! Hope you have a wonderful time, if those are your plans.

Leave a Reply