Year-ending rituals

For good luck

At the end of 2020, I participated in a Worldbuilders panel about rituals. One of the things we talked about was ways to ritually, thoughtfully, intentionally yeet that particular year into the sun. Or celebrate! Because maybe good things happened to you, and that’s worth feeling happy about.

I compiled a list, which I now present to you in the hopes that maybe some of these ideas will help you find a measure of peace at the end of another solar year. Some of these are rooted in specific beliefs or superstitions, but even if you don’t think you or your house can accumulate negative energy, many of these activities are simply something nice you can do for yourself.

Caveat: please only do the things that work for you, and if they don’t, worry not! These are options and not edicts. Everyone is different, psychologically and emotionally and physically and locationally. What works for one person may be unpleasant or impossible for another.

1. Clean your house. Get a broom–a new one works best–and sweep any cobwebs out of your ceiling corners. Sweep or vacuum your floors and mop them. Take the dirt and/or dirty water and physically remove it from your house via the front door. Wash all your sheets and towels. Take out the trash. Out with all the old mess to start the year fresh!

2. Open all the doors and windows to let the old air out and the new air in. This can be used in combination with other rituals for maximum affect.

3. Light candles and/or incense in as many rooms as you can. Fill your house with light and nice smells! For some cultures or religions, there may be specific cleansing ceremonies involved in doing this as well. Picking certain shapes, colors or scents can be part of the ritual.

4. Take a relaxing bath or shower. Similar to cleaning your house, clean your body and wash away the old year. Use a specially chosen scented soap, light more candles, listen to music… add as many components to this as you’d like to make it special.

5. Go through your stuff and choose things to donate or discard. Thank your things for their service, then let them go. This can be emotionally taxing, so be kind to yourself before, during and after.

6. Change into new clothes. Different cultures have different associations with colors for luck or love or money, but you can just wear something you find joyful or relaxing or comfortable. New clothes, new year!

7. Decorate! Put up streamers or signs or whatever feels festive to you. Use your favorite colors if you want. Signal to your brain that this is a party and happy emotions and nice things are invited. It doesn’t have to be fancy or ambitious, it just has to feel good to you.

8. Eat grapes for good luck. My family does this every year. Each person gets 12 grapes, one for every month, and you make a wish or set an intention for each grape you eat. It helps you think about what’s important to you and what you want in your life in the year to come.

9. Write two sets of intentions: things you’re taking into the new year, and things you’re leaving behind. These can be as vague or specific as you want. You can then tear up or burn the ones you’re getting rid of, and put the ones you’re keeping in a place where you can see and remember them.

10. Speaking of burning things: write down your sorrows or grievances and BURN THEM. If your fire is indoors, dump the ashes outside when you’re finished. Scatter them to the wind or bury them or drop them in a body of water. Be free!

11. Write “2022” on a stone, tell it your troubles or worries, then throw it into a body of water. Or yeet it off a cliff if you have one handy and no one is at the bottom. You can skip the year-writing part if you don’t have the tools for it, or you just don’t feel like being quite so literal.

12. Have a celebratory meal, alone or with friends and/or family. Eat your favorite foods, or something with cultural or religious significance, and enjoy!

13. Make some noise! Ring bells, bang pots and pans, play music, holler… Drive out the bad energy and have fun while doing it. Be respectful of your neighbors–certain loud sounds can be triggering to some people–or maybe convince them to join you?

14. Break something. Take an old dish outside and smash it on the floor. Maybe write “2022” on it first if you want, or something bad that you want to shatter, to give it an extra layer of symbolism. Be cautious while doing this so you don’t hurt yourself or others! Don’t want to start the new year with stitches.

15. Make art to channel and release your bad feels. Write something, draw something, paint something, compose a song, dance… Whatever calls to you. Turn your feelings into art, then keep it or give it away or do whatever feels right with it.

For all of these rituals, be mindful, be intentional and be present. If this has been a rough year for you, some of these things may involve sad reminders of specific hardships. Do only what resonates with you and is helpful. Life is hard, and you deserve happiness and peace!

In the words of the greatest band of all time: be excellent to each other. Take care, and may your every new year be better than the last.

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