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Celebrating New Year’s on Hilton Head Island

If you’re lucky enough to be celebrating New Years on Hilton Head Island, you’re already off to a great start. Here are some things that ensure your luck keeps on going for 2024! 

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When the Clock Strikes Midnight

There are many traditions and superstitions around the world for what to do and what not to do to ring in the New Year with as much good fortune as possible. Some traditions need to take place exactly when the clock strikes midnight, so here are some ideas depending on where you find yourself on the island at 11:59pm. 

Wave 2023 Goodbye

In Brazil, people celebrate New Year’s Eve at the beach! As soon as it’s midnight, everyone walks ankle-deep into the water while fireworks dazzle overhead. Every time a wave washes in, everyone jumps over it and makes a wish. It’s tradition to jump over seven waves, meaning you’ll get a grand total of seven wishes. Test out this tradition on one of Hilton Head Island’s many beaches, and see if any of your wishes come true! 

Head to Harbour Town in Sea Pines to enjoy food, entertainment, and live music. The highlight (or highlights) of the night will be seeing the New Year’s Eve ball drop from the top of the Harbour Town Lighthouse. The first drop is scheduled for 7pm–perfect for those with early bedtimes. The second and official drop is set for midnight. A gate pass is required to enter the Sea Pines property, and can be purchased at each gate.

Grab Your Suitcase 

If you want 2024 to be filled with travel and adventure, carry around an empty suitcase starting at midnight. This is a tradition that stems from Columbia and other Spanish-speaking countries. Regardless if you’re celebrating the New Year on vacation or relaxing in the comfort of your own home, remember to grab that suitcase when the clock strikes midnight! 

Open Up the Doors and Windows

It’s a great thing that Hilton Head Island has such mild winter weather, so won’t freeze when you open the doors and windows to let 2023 out and to welcome the New Year in! It’s an easy tradition, so why not try it? Anything to help make sure 2024 goes as smoothly as possible…

January 1st To-Do List 

Just as there are traditions and superstitions for New Year’s Eve, there are specific things to do on January 1st, and other things that you need to stay clear of!

Photo by David Di Veroli

Polar Plunge at Coligny Beach

The first-ever recorded Polar Bear Plunge took place in Boston, Massachusetts in 1904. Since then, jumping into an ice-cold pool or freezing lake is a tradition for many on New Year’s Day. Some might think it’s a crazy thing to do, but not only is the freezing swim said to be good for your immune system, but many of these events benefit charities. 

The annual Polar Plunge at Coligny Beach will start at 11am on New Year’s Day, and benefits Charli’s Critters Charity. 

Leave the Cleaning for January 2nd

If you’re on vacation, cleaning probably isn’t on your radar as it is. Just to be safe, make sure to leave those coffee cups in the sink and refrain from any sweeping or dusting. You don’t want to wash or sweep away any luck that’s headed your way! 

What’s for Dinner?

Here’s a southern tradition that’ll bring you luck and prosperity in 2024: make sure to eat a dinner that includes black-eyed peas. The black-eyed peas themselves represent coins, and they’re typically served with some sort of greens to symbolize paper money. A common dish that’s served for dinner on New Year’s Day is called Hoppin’ John. 

If you want to learn more about Hoppin’ John and its ties to the Lowcountry and Gullah culture, here is a great article by Discover South Carolina that includes a recipe from one of Charleston’s top chefs, Chef BJ Dennis.


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