Happy New Year


The earliest recorded festivities to honor a New Year’s arrival dates back to 4,000 years ago in ancient Babylon. At that time, it was celebrated in late March at the time of the vernal equinox when there’s an equal amount of sunlight and darkness. Then Julius Caesar got into the act because he needed to realign the Roman calendar with the sun, and added 90 extra days to the year 46 B.C. That’s when the new year was finally celebrated on what we call January 1.
For thousands of years, it’s been important to celebrate the beginning of a new year in many different ways.
Noise seems to be an important part of welcoming the new year. That might date back to ancient Thailand when guns were fired to frighten off demons. In China firecrackers were used to scare away the forces of darkness, and in the early American colonies, the sound of pistol shots rang through the night. Now, Italians ring church bells, the Swiss beat drums, and in North America, sirens sound and party favor horns are blown to bid the old year farewell. There might be some alcohol involved, too.
At that point, we may hope for better health, better luck and better earnings, plus good friendships. People everywhere think of it as a time of starting over. If last year wasn’t so good, this year has to be better.
Then there are lots of traditions about eating the right kind of food. In Spanish speaking countries, people eat a dozen grapes right before midnight. In Italy, they eat lentils, and in the southern United States, they go for black-eyed peas. Because pigs represent progress and prosperity in some cultures (that surprised me), pork appears to be on the New Year’s Eve table. I never knew why, but we always thought it was good to have ribs and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day for good luck. That didn’t always come true, however.
In Sweden and Norway, rice pudding with an almond hidden inside is served on New Year’s Eve. It is said that whoever finds the nut can expect 12 months of good fortune. That’s expecting a lot out of a measly almond.
Those Babylonians we mentioned earlier also started the practice of making resolutions for the new year. They made promises in order to earn the favor of the gods and start out the year on the right foot. Usually, our promises to ourselves involve some sort of self-improvement. So whether we resolve to return borrowed farm equipment, as did the Babylonians, or drop a few pounds, we are tapping into ancient and powerful longings for a fresh start.
My favorite resolution was in 2016. As she said, “You know how that goes – I resolved to lose just 10 pounds and now I only have 15 to go.”
Since 1907, a giant ball at Times Square in the middle of New York City has dropped at the stroke of midnight. Over time, the ball has ballooned from a 700-pound iron and wood orb to a brightly patterned sphere 12 feet in diameter and weighing nearly 12,000 pounds. It’s amazing what it must take to slow that thing and not have it break when it gets to the bottom.
Of course, the most commonly sung song on New Year’s Eve is “Auld Lang Syne.” Everyone has heard this Scottish song that was published by the poet Robert Burns in 1796. The words transcribed are “Old Long Sense,” but mean “times gone by” and commemorate the time for all old friends to get together, if not in person, then in memory.
That song was actually popularized by bandleader Guy Lombardo and became one of the standards of his band, played every New Year’s Eve at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City beginning in 1929. It was first broadcast on radio and then later on television.
This year on New Year’s Eve, the Ohio State Buckeyes will take on the Clemson Tigers in the Fiesta Bowl and if they win, will play for the national title. The game begins at 7 p.m. and by the New Year, we will know if the Buckeyes will play in Tampa on January 9. Thus, as we say frequently, Go Bucks!
I read this recently and thought I would share it with you. It’s from lessonslearnedinlife.com.
“If you want 2017 to be your year; don’t sit on the couch and wait for it. Go out. Make a change. Smile more. Be excited. Do new things. Throw away what you’ve been cluttering. Unfollow negative people on social media. Go to bed early. Wake up early. Be fierce. Don’t gossip. Show more gratitude. Do things that challenge you. Be brave.”
I wish you all a very Happy New Year with much good health and all good things in 2017.
(Melanie Behrens- melb@marysvillejt.com)

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