Here’s all you need to know to decide how to celebrate your New Year…
New Year History
- Over 4000 years ago the Babylonians started New Year celebrations.
- They celebrated the New Year with the first full moon after the vernal (spring) equinox.
- Akitu was an 11 day religious festival celebrating the harvest of barley & other crops.
- It also celebrated the sky god, Marduk, who triumphed over evil.
- Babylonians made promises (resolutions) or offerings to their gods to gain favor.
- The Roman Empire started messing with the calendar.
- They designed a year with 10 months & 304 days starting on the vernal equinox.
- Over the centuries, that calendar fell out of sync with the sun.
- In 46 B.C. the emperor Julius Caesar introduced the Julian calendar.
- It resembles our Gregorian calendar with January 1 as the first day of the year.
- This was done to honor the month’s namesake: Janus, the Roman god of beginnings.
- Janus had two faces allowing him to look back into the past & forward into the future.
- He’s also the patron & protector of arches, gates, doors, endings & beginnings.
- Romans celebrated the new year by offering sacrifices to Janus, exchanging gifts with one another, decorating their homes & attending wild parties.
- “New Years resolutions” in Rome were moral resolutions: mostly to be good to others.
- When the Roman Empire took Christianity as its state religion in the 4th century, these moral intentions were replaced by prayers and fasting.
Throughout history New Year celebrations have been split along those same line with some celebrating loudly, cheerfully, & with excess, while others celebrate with quiet reflection & contemplation. It seems to me that New Year’s Resolutions seem to fit in either category.
New Year Traditions
- New Year’s celebrations begin on December 31 – New Year’s Eve – & continue into January 1 & food always seems to play an important role.
- Grapes eaten just before midnight are the food of luck & choice in Spain & several other Spanish-speaking countries.
- Beans are thought to resemble coins & insure financial success…Lentils are traditional in Italy & black eyed peas in our own south.
- Pigs represent progress & prosperity…pork appears on tables in Cuba, Austria, Hungary, Portugal & other countries.
- Ring shaped cakes & pastries, symbolizing that the year has come full circle appear in the Netherlands, Mexico, & Greece.
- In Sweden & Norway rice pudding with an almond hidden inside is served on New Year’s Eve. Whoever finds the nut can expect 12 months of good fortune.
- Other customs include watching fireworks & singing songs to welcome the new year, including the ever-popular “Auld Lang Syne” in many English-speaking countries.
So there you have it…New Year’s in a nutshell. Now all you have to do is decide how you want to spend your time. Rowdy or quiet, solitude or camaraderie, fasting or feasting, & the all important question…Do I or do I not make resolutions?
Whatever your choices, I hope you enjoy saying goodbye to the old & ringing in the new!
Me…I’m off to find my party hat!!!