Robin Brande writes about the Korean tradition of ending the year with the abundance for which one wishes in the next: full tank of gas in the car, crisp bills in the wallet, nails manicured, hair coiffed. The author of Home Worked notes the Filipino custom favoring anything with dots or circular patterns — from polka dot clothes to round fruits — to bring good luck for the coming year.
My first attempt at a thoughtful NY Eve ritual came as a 20-something in Washington. My dear friends Sean and David decided we should follow an allegedly Buddhist tradition and, at the stroke of 12, burn slips of paper on which we’d written things we wanted to leave behind with the old year. This was to be followed just after midnight by burning slips of paper marked with blessings we wanted the New Year to bring. Alas, we never made it to Part 2, when the wok in which we were burning Part 1 set off the building fire alarm. We rang in the New Year with 100 or so neighbors out on the sidewalk as the fire trucks screeched up Connecticut Avenue.
Last year in Florida I gamely revisited the ritual-making challenge, with an item that does involve spirituous liquors — and tradition — but does not involve fire or flame. The Joy of Cooking’s classic Bourbon Balls: my favorite! All you need are vanilla wafers, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, Karo syrup, pecans, and bourbon. The only modification I make to the traditional recipe: more bourbon! (The paltry 1/4 cup here will never do.) Ideally, to my taste, these emerge as a moist consistency closer to fudgy brownies than a dry cookie. It’s fine if the balls are quite sticky, since you’ll roll them in powdered sugar to finish.
Today’s mitzvah: Dream up a fun activity to endure as a New Year’s Eve tradition. Count your blessings. (And, seriously: make some Bourbon Balls!)