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Celebratory traditions for the New Year

on Tuesday, 26 December 2017. Posted in Columns, Opinions

By: Brenda Harrison

It is hard to believe that 2018 is almost here. In just a few days we will be welcoming this brand New Year.

A New Year signifies a new beginning, and since the beginning of time inhabitats of this earth have been celebrating this newness with traditions, customs and even superstitions.

The “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” reports the following folklore and beliefs passed down by people around the world:

• On New Year’s Eve, kiss the person you hope to keep kissing.

• If New Year’s Eve night wind blows south, it betokeneth warmth and growth.

• For abundance in the new year, fill your pockets and cupboards today.

• If the old year goes out like a lion, the new year will come in like a lamb.

• Begin the new year square with every man. (i.e., pay your debts) suggested Robert B. Thomas, founder of “The Old Farmer’s Almanac.”

Turn Over A New Leaf

The dawn of a new year is an opportune time to take stock of your life, continues “The Old Farmer’s Almanac.”

Jews who observe Rosh Hashanah make time for personal introspection and prayer, as well as visiting graves.

Christian churches hold “watch-night” services, a custom that began in 1770 at Old St. Georges Methodist Church in Philadelphia.

The practice of making New Year’s resolutions, believed to have begun with the Babylonians as early as 2600 B.C., is another way to reflect on the past and plan ahead.

Giving Gifts

New Year’s Day was once the time to swap presents.

Gifts of gilded nuts or coins marked the start of the new year in Rome.

Eggs, the symbol of fertility, were exchanged by the Persians.

Early Egyptians traded earthenware flasks.

In Scotland, coal, shortbread and silverware were traditionally exchanged for good luck.

Eat Lucky Food

Many New Year traditions surround food. Here are a few:

In the South, black-eyed peas and pork foretell good fortune, and greens, such as collards, represent money.

Eating any ring-shaped treat (such as a doughnut) symbolizes “coming full circle” and leads to good fortune. In Dutch homes, fritters called “olie bollen” are served.

The Irish enjoy pastries called bannocks.

The tradition of eating 12 grapes at midnight comes from Spain.

In India and Pakistan, rice promises prosperity.

Apples dipped in honey are a Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) tradition.

In Swiss homes, dollops of whipped cream, symbolizing the richness of the year to come, are dropped on the floors – and allowed to remain there.

Have A Drink

Although the pop of a champagne cork signals the arrival of the New Year around the world, some countries have their own beverage-based traditions.

Wassail, a punch-like drink named after the Gaelic term for “good health,” is served in some parts of England.

Spiced “hot pint” is the Scottish version of Wassail. Traditionally, the Scots drank to each others’ prosperity and also offered this warm drink to neighbors along with a small gift.

In Holland, toasts are made with hot, spiced wine.

No matter how you celebrate, here’s wishing you a safe and blessed New Year!

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