Welcoming 2020… Travel, travel, travel, travel!

Traditions to Welcome a Happy New Year *2020*

There are so many wonderful traditions from every part of the globe when it comes to bringing in the New Year. Fellow citizens of the world jump into the new year, eat grapes in synchrony with the stroke(12) of the clock at midnight, kiss a loved one, crack open the windows and doors to let out the old and allow the new, and each of these acts is symbolic and true.

As Greek-Americans, we at Insiders Tours, love to combine a favorite new tradition, gained from friends in South Florida, and the Greek traditions of our childhoods. 

Here is how New Year’s Eve works from our point of view:

With only a few minutes left in the present year, we scramble to grab our suitcases (SoFlo, Latin-influenced new tradition), turn off every light in the house, and start a walk around to block with friends and neighbors. Many hold glasses of champagne, others play the pots and pans, singing the New Year Kalanta for the Greeks, and everyone greeting neighbors and spreading good wishes and cheer for a Happy New Year. 

It’s when we return to the house that our Greek traditions come front and center. (Since this hasn’t happened yet tonight, we shift to past tense.)

The ‘especially lucky’ one amongst us, usually my little brother Alexi, was ushered to the front of the line. Being the youngest, and traditionally young children are chosen, Alexi was the ‘First Footer’ and did the PODARIKO in our house. Alexi was the first one to enter the house, with his right foot, and bring us all good fortune for the year to come. Mom always had a little satchel of sugar and rice she tossed over the threshold. The lights flickered on and it was time for the rest of the family and friends to enter…each saying a little prayer as we stepped in right foot first!

Here is where the pomegranate shines! In Greek culture, the pomegranate holds much significance. It is a sign of luck, prosperity and fertility, as well as a sign of renewal and regeneration. Since the rituals that surround New Year’s usually involve ways to bring luck, it makes sense that the pomegranate played a role. 

Many Greek homes hang a pomegranate over the door during the Christmas holidays. Today, they are more ornate and sold in many shops for year-round display in the homes. Travelers often leave Greece with one or two as souvenirs. 

Back to our story…
After Alexi entered, a second person of good heart and clean spirit, usually my brother John, followed with the special pomegranate. It was his job to smash the good luck pomegranate to smithereens…honestly, if John had his way, he would have used a hockey stick and slap shot it through the front door to the kitchen in the back of the house. Didn’t happen though. My parents always gave him the ‘look’ when he tried to place his stick near the door on the way out. 

Growing up in New York, we had options with the ‘smashing’. We would do it at the front door (proper), but if it was a very, very cold night, John would pitch it down the basement stairs. 

Once smashed, seeds scattered everywhere, and I mean everywhere! If the juice splattered on one of us, even more luck. The more seeds painting the house red, the more good luck and fortune would come to the house in the New Year.

Needless to say, my brothers took their responsibilities very seriously. They practiced and practiced, and as their big sister, and the author of this blog, I need to acknowledge a job well done through the years. 

Growing up, we were used to Dad coming home, learning we had a long weekend off from school, and just by looking over at Mom, he’d announce where we were heading. Our family was quick to travel. As adults, we still all love to travel…hence the adaptation of carrying an empty suitcase around the block to secure lots of travel through the upcoming year.

However you choose to ring in 2020, welcome new opportunities with open arms. We wish you a year of happiness, health, love, and travel!

Happy New Year, from our homes to yours.
Pack light. Travel often. Love a lot.
See you in 2020!

Aleka…Insiders Tours Inc