All dirty laundry needs to be washed before December 31st at midnight. My mom makes me search the entire house.


The subject had many New Year’s rituals to share pertaining to his family. He said that every New Year’s Eve his mother made him search the house for all dirty laundry so that she could wash it before the New Year. He emphasized all laundry stating that everything and anything dirty that could be cleaned in the washing machine, was. When I asked about the reasoning behind this he says that it is considered bad luck when crossing over into the New Year if you have dirty laundry. He furthered this making a connection between the cleaning process and the superstition saying that it’s not a clean start to the New Year. The subject was unsure of its origins exactly but said that it was a popular custom in African American families, saying that his entire family does it.

At first I thought that his may be a clever way to make the kids get all of the dirty laundry done before the New Year, however once I heard that it was not a clean start to the year, I believe it has more to do with this. I think it reflects the idea of a clean slate, making sure that the New Year is started fresh without the trials and tarnishes from the previous year. I think it symbolizes a lot more than what it first sounds like. Having a clean house and clean clothes to enter the New Year allows the family to ease into the year without having to deal with the problems from the past. The clothes can be seen as past year occurrences that need to be washed away before the New Year. I think that the fact his mother makes him search through the entire house, which he emphasized telling me that even socks or pillowcases were included, shows her strong belief in it. It is obviously a big stress reliever for her as well, since entering the New Year the house is clean and she does not have to do the laundry.