By C. LaRene Hall
“Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop.” – Lewis Carroll
I love that quote. It’s what I plan on doing with this new year. Actually, I’ve been pondering what I know about New Year’s day. I don’t want to write about the usual things you would expect such as goals and resolutions. Instead, I want to think about the beginning of celebrations, and traditions.
January 1st is the oldest of all holidays. In ancient Babylon almost 4,000 years ago, they celebrated the first day of spring. It was the perfect time to start a new year with the rebirth and blossoming of plants. Their New Year resolution was probably to return borrowed garden equipment instead of losing weight.
As I searched to see how different cities and countries celebrated this holiday, I wasn’t surprised to see that the most popular celebrations consisted of parades and fireworks. I love watching parades and fireworks so I would be at home wherever I traveled.
Years ago, people thought that one could affect the luck they would have throughout the coming year by what they did on the first day of the year. That’s the reason why people celebrate the first few minutes of a brand new year in the company of family and friends.
Another thing that brings good luck is food. Many cultures believe that if it’s in the shape of a ring it will bring good luck, because it symbolizes "coming full circle" which completes a year's cycle.
Many years ago, the new year started with a custom called ‘first footing’, which was suppose to bring good luck to people for the coming year. As soon as midnight had passed, people waited behind their doors for a dark-haired person to arrive. My husband tells that when he was young, on New Years Eve right after the clock chimed twelve, his father who had dark hair would go out the back door and come in the front door.
My husband doesn’t remember any more details, but the custom further states that the visitor carried a piece of coal, bread, money and greenery for good luck The coal was so the house would always be warm, the bread to make sure everyone had enough food to eat, money so they would have enough money, and the greenery so they had a long life. The visitor would then take a pan of dust or ashes out of the house with him, thus signifying the departure of the old year.
In almost every English-speaking country is a tradition to bring the New Year in at the stroke of midnight singing, "Auld Lang Syne". Some of the symbols of the New Year are Father Time and the New Year Baby.
Unlike us, February 7, 2008 is the first day of the Chinese New Year. This coming year is the year of the rat or formally the year of Wu Zhi. I wonder what this means for all of us. I hate rats.
Anyway, my wish for all of you is to have a wonderful New Year.