By Mary TuckerNew Year’s celebrations trace back 4000 years to Ancient Egypt and Babylonia. After the Nile River flooded and enriched the earth in late September, Egypt celebrated a new beginning. When the Babylonian King left the throne for several days after March 23, his subjects “whooped it up”. After he returned normal living resumed. Julius Caesar picked January 1st as the start of the year in 46BC. January was named after the Roman God Janus who is pictured with two heads, one looking back and one looking forward. A new year allowed people to unload the results of decisions made in the past and start anew.
Countries celebrate New Years in different ways. The Japanese hang straw ropes across the front of their homes to keep out evil spirits, bringing good luck and happiness. The people of Northern India wear flowers (white, pink, red, purple, with women favoring yellow, the color of spring). Hindus have shrines next to their beds to see beauty when they wake. British Columbia holds the traditional Polar Bear Swim on New Years Day.
Scotland celebrates “Hognany” with street parties, also exchanging “First Footing” gifts after midnight. Lentils are eaten in Italian homes after midnight; this small flat bean represents money and the hope for riches in the coming year. Parties with friends and family at home, watching the ball in Time Square descend on TV, or dinner, drinks and dancing at restaurants are popular ways to celebrate in the US.
A newer tradition worldwide is First Night, an alcohol-free community celebration on December 31. First Night entertainment could be music, theater arts, dancing, storytelling, ice sculpture, and, of course, eating. First Night usually ends at midnight with a spectacular fireworks display. There are Football Bowls on January 1st: Rose Bowl Parade and Game, the Orange Bowl, the Cotton Bowl and the Sugar Bowl. Since I am not a football fan I do not know if there are any others.
Then we have the New Years Resolutions passed on from the Babylonians. Their main resolution was to return borrowed farm machinery. I thought it would be fun to finish with a list of resolutions gleaned from “the man on the street” in Andes.~