Born-and-Raised Hoboken Residents Share Past New Year’s Eve Traditions

Written by:

These days in Hoboken, most residents’ New Year’s Eve is spent at a restaurant, bar, house party, watching the ball drop at home, or hanging on Instagram posting “new year new me” {let’s be honest}. But before the current-day celebrations, there were some incredible Mile Square neighborhood traditions — where residents would come together to ring in the new year. Picture the scene: everyone in the neighborhood coming outside to their front stoops, banging pots and pans, dumping water out windows, and more. Some of these residents who grew up locally are part of a group called “I’m so Hoboken….” and shared some of their New Year’s Eve fun living locally in the 50s-90s. Here are some of their traditions.

hoboken residents new years traditions

The pots and pans tradition = a Hoboken staple.

While many residents asked were not sure where and how the tradition of banging pots and pans started, it’s something that everyone in Hoboken did: took pots and pans outside at midnight and banged them on their front stoops or fire escapes. Definitely giving helicopter, construction work, and other city noises a run for their money, that’s for sure.

“My grandparents lived at 744 Park Avenue, top floor. Grandma would let us go down in the street to bang the pots and pans at midnight. This was the late 50s, early sixties. Miss them and our traditions.”

~ Rosemary Quirk DiStefano

“We threw pennies and salt over the shoulder….and of course pots and pans!”

~ Agnes Damato Wallace

“At 1305/1307 Bloomfield Street throwing burning stuff in the dumbwaiter shafts seemed to be a Christmas/New Years tradition in the 60s-early 70s. Needless to say the poor firefighters and cops were always guaranteed what to expect. Also, Auld Lang Syne played on the PA system on the street. Everyone went outside-fire escapes, or stoops to sing along, and bang pots and pans. Later we lived on 6th and Garden-70s to 80s.In addition to banging pots and pans, the neighborhood fireworks/firecrackers went on well into the New Year.”

Ellen Kammer-Frey

“We’d of course bang pots and pans — and have money in your pocket with a clean house and clean clothes before the new year. And we’d eat black eye peas for dinner.”

~ Cheryl Ann

Other traditions were specific to various houses — including eating herring, throwing pennies over their shoulders, eating 12 grapes, and more.

While it’s debated if you should eat herring under the table or out in the open, one thing was certain — it was definitely a very common practice on December 31st, regardless of the year. {For the non-adventurous eaters, pickled herring is a fish preserved in a pickling liquid, usually brine or vinegar}. 

See More: New Year’s Eve 2020 in Hoboken + Jersey City: THE GUIDE

“We did the pots and pans listening to Bernie Simone play the bugle on 5th St. between Adams and Jefferson. Good times! My mom always put out picked herring, but I never ate any.”

~ Catherine Hottendorf Mascis

“Pickled herrings! And of course the pots and pans. And a NEW piece of clothing for the First of January!”

~Adeline Williams Pawlawski

“12 grapes! Champagne toast, and some for reason, tossing a pail of water out (which isn’t smart in cold weather lol).”

~ Maria Freire

“Bang pots and pans. Great memories! My dad always ate pickled herring! I think he was the only one. I know us kids didn’t but I am not sure if my mom ate it. I don’t think so.”

~ Janet Huncken Fitzgerald

“Herring on the table, money in the hand at midnight and like everyone pots and pans out the window. My mother also had to have the first visitor of the year a dark-haired man(?).”

~ Dorothy Detjen Demauro

And if you’re wondering what the dark-haired man superstition is, we’re not sure either — but the story is corroborated by several others and without doing so, could mean bad luck all year.

“Yes, my mother also had one of my brothers [with dark hair] walk thru the door at midnight…….also if seated or standing as the bells tolled, step forward on your right foot…start the New Year on the “right foot”

~Lucille Corrado

“The first person in the door after midnight had to be a man with dark hair. God forbid if is was a blond women bad luck all year.”

~Frances Coritz

“My mom would toss water out the window signifying out with the bad!”

~ Yolanda Quadrado

Read More: Hoboken + Jersey City Spots Open on New Year’s Day 2020

Some also took the Mile Square traditions elsewhere — keeping their roots to Hoboken strong.

“My sister and her family lived in a quiet neighborhood in Florham Park, NJ and at midnight banged pots an pans. They were the only people out there doing that. Definitely shades of Hoboken..”

~ Rae Cricco Harff

“I grew up in Hoboken and took that tradition with me up to the Heights.”

~ Debbie Montanez

” I still do this ( if I’m awake) in my development in Pennsylvania. I know my neighbors think I’ve lost my mind 🤣❣️”

~ Rosemary Sissy Welsh

Safe to say that there are some very strong roots that grow from Hoboken.

What are some of your New Year’s traditions? Share with us in the comments!

Happy New Year!


Written by: