New Year's Irresolution.

Where willpower fails us, the state is now taking over

New Year's is the season of superstition--the fireworks driving out demons, the bells ringing in a new age. Women on the Isle of Man used to sprinkle the floor with ashes on New Year's Eve, then look for footprints in the morning: steps leading toward the door portended a death; steps entering meant a birth in the family. Texans believed eating black-eyed peas would bring good luck. In Scottish Hogmanay celebrations, you want the first foot that crosses the threshold after midnight to belong to a dark-haired man bearing a small gift, for that will bless the year to come.


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