Wednesday, December 31, 2008


The joyous celebration of the New Year is probably the world's oldest. Many cultures have their own annual beginning, but the journey of time, as expressed through the Gregorian calendar, is how each passing day is marked in the United States.
History of New Year's:
2000 years ago and then some, it is believed that Ancient Babylonians began their New Year with the first New Moon after the Spring Equinox. A logical time to celebrate, spring brings with it new growth and has always been symbolic of hope and the promise of things to come. The Babylonians feasted for eleven days, each day with its own festive theme.
Fast forward to Julius Caesar who, during a visit to Egypt around 150 BC, found the calendar of his dreams. The Romans tried to follow the same cycle as set by the Egyptians with the New Year beginning in spring. But scholars and emperors continued to finagle with the calendar until it fell out of synchronization with the sun. The Roman senate, in an attempt to get everything back on track, named January 1 as the first day of the year, and eventually it was entitled the Julian Calendar.
Still the calendar was constantly being revised and manipulated by various people, until 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII established the Gregorian Calendar. This calendar set the dates in stone and offered a clear distinction of the four seasons. The Gregorian Calendar is what most of the Western world uses.
Champagne Toast:
Liveliness in a glass, a Champagne toast at midnight is a much-loved tradition. Probably French in origin, something bubbly be it Champagne or sparkling water is always a festive way to commemorate a special occasion.
Kissing Your Loved One at Midnight:
It is customary to kiss the one you love or hope to love at midnight as if to say, "Congratulations, to us for making it through another year!"
Church bells ring and people make a lot of noise all around the world when the clock strikes 12:00. This tradition is believed to be from the ancient belief that if one was loud and made enough of a raucous they could drive evil spirits away. New Year's Resolutions:
Whether it is be a silent promise to one's self to stop telling white lies or a big declaration of intent to lose weight, a New Year's resolution is a must. Many find it easier to make a fresh beginning as symbolized by January 1.
The interesting thing about New Year's Resolutions is that the flaws they address are usually most in evidence during the holidays; eating too much, drinking too much, spending too much money, yelling at your family, making out with a coworker behind the ficus at an office party, that sort of thing. It's a handy arrangement--when looking for ways to shore up your personality, you only have to consider the past three or four weeks. This also explains why so few New Year's Resolutions involve sculling, tanning, or sand castles.
Baby New Year & Father Time:
The tradition of a "Baby New Year" is said to have started in Greece around 600 BC. In celebration of Dionysus, god of wine, a baby in a basket represented the annual rebirth of the god as the spirit of fertility. An obvious correlation, today Baby New Year symbolizes the young year, and old Father Time reminds us how the year has aged. However, it was the 14th century Germans who are credited with having a New Year's banner with the image of a baby as a symbol of the New Year.
The Tournament of Roses Parade:
In 1886, members of the Valley Hunt Club decorated their carriages with flowers and paraded through Pasadena, CA, celebrating the ripe orange crop. Today, large elaborate floats covered with flowers, nuts, and organic materials, join in the pageantry of The Tournament of Roses Parade. The Rose Bowl, a football game, has traditionally followed the parade since 1902, with a brief "time-out" when the sport was replaced with Roman chariot races in 1903. Thirteen years later, much to its fans delight, football made a comeback!
Food For Luck In The New Year:
Traditionally, it was thought that one could affect the luck they would have throughout the coming year by what they did or ate on the first day of the year. For that reason, it has become common for folks to celebrate the first few minutes of a brand new year in the company of family and friends. Parties often last into the middle of the night after the ringing in of a new year. It was once believed that the first visitor on New Year's Day would bring either good luck or bad luck the rest of the year. It was particularly lucky if that visitor happened to be a tall dark-haired man.
Traditional New Year foods are also thought to bring luck. Many cultures believe that anything in the shape of a ring is good luck, because it symbolizes "coming full circle," completing a year's cycle. For that reason, the Dutch believe that eating donuts on New Year's Day will bring good fortune.
Many parts of the U.S. celebrate the new year by consuming black-eyed peas. These legumes are typically accompanied by either hog jowls or ham. Black-eyed peas and other legumes have been considered good luck in many cultures. The hog, and thus its meat, is considered lucky because it symbolizes prosperity. Cabbage is another "good luck" vegetable that is consumed on New Year's Day by many. Cabbage leaves are also considered a sign of prosperity, being representative of paper currency. In some regions, rice is a lucky food that is eaten on New Year's Day.
Auld Lang Syne:
It's always funny to hear people sing Scots poetry while wearing shiny hats.The song, "Auld Lang Syne," is sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every English-speaking country in the world to bring in the new year. At least partially written by Robert Burns in the 1700's, it was first published in 1796 after Burns' death. Early variations of the song were sung prior to 1700 and inspired Burns to produce the modern rendition. An old Scotch tune, "Auld Lang Syne" literally means "old long ago," or simply, "the good old days."



Jan said...

Happy New Years, Sue!!!! May this next year bring many good things to you and yours!

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