When we get to the end of the year and the dawn of the next one is around the corner we prepare ourselves in many ways. First of all in the entire month of December or even before we start planning our year: what we are going to do, our hopes and desires for the New Year, in fact is one of the few times that the holiday spirit last long enough to cover the days in between Christmas and new year’s day.
Every culture and every tradition has its own way of celebrating the beginning of a new year. With New Year’s upon us, in every culture there are some rituals which are believed to bring good fortune and prosperity in the coming year. Some of the famous ones are:
The kiss shared at the stroke of midnight in the US is derived from masked balls that have been common throughout history. As tradition has it, the masks symbolize evil spirits from the old year and the kiss is the purification into the New Year. While in Brazil the lentil is believed to signify wealth, so on the first day of the New Year they serve lentil soup or lentils and rice. In Brazil on New Year’s eve priestesses of the local “macumba” voodoo cult dress in blue skirts and white blouses for a ceremony dedicated to the goddess of water, “Yemanja”. A sacrificial boat laden with flowers, candles and jewelry is pushed out to sea from Brazil’s famous “Ipenama” beach in Rio de Janeiro.
In Denmark it is a good sign to find your door heaped with a pile of broken dishes at New Years. Old dishes are saved year around to throw them at the homes where their friends live on New Year’s Eve. Many broken dishes were a symbol that you have many friends. An old Sicilian tradition says good luck will come to those who eat lasagna on New Year’s Day, but woe if you dine on macaroni, for any other noodle will bring bad luck.
January 1st is an important date in Greece because it is not only the first day of the New Year but it is also St. Basil’s Day. St Basil was one the forefathers of the Greek Orthodox Church. He is remembered for his kindness and generosity to the poor. He is thought to have died on this date so this is how they honor him. A special New Year’s bread is baked with a coin buried in the dough. The first slice is for the Christ child; the second for the father of the household and the third slice is for the house. If the third slice holds the coin, spring will come early that year.
The famous Romans which are historically known to be festive prepare for the New Year festival which is known as January Calends by decorating their houses with lights and greenery. The festival lasts for three days, during this time they hold feasts and exchange gifts which were carefully chosen for their luck-bringing properties these include such things as sweets or honey to ensure sweetness and peace as well as Gold, Silver or money for prosperity. Lamps for a year filled with light.
In Spain when the clock strikes midnight they eat 12 grapes one with every toll to bring good luck for the next 12 months of the New Year. Sometimes the grapes are washed down with wine. Theater productions and movies are interrupted to carry out this custom.
For us Eritreans in our new year’s eve we cross the fire as it symbolizes light, hope and beauty. The days are even longer as the geez Christmas is the 7 of January. Meaning for two whole weeks people have the holiday spirit and gather in between families and friends.
My colleague a few days ago was talking about New Year’s resolution. How we still keep doing them even though we know most of the times we don’t actually succeed. As for me I strongly believe that we can do whatever we want any time we set our mind to it. A lot of us, though, we wait for New Year’s because it is the only time when everyone is in the same page. And for that reason we should take advantage of this time around to make things better for us: socially, carrier wise and many other things that you just keep on postponing throughout the year. We should embrace the holiday spirit and make peace with our loved ones and clear out any kind of miss understandings we have had. We should have faith in life itself. Because if we have faith then we won’t have fear anymore; and when there is no fear there is hope that opens the gates to peace and love among us. Life is a funny hand of cards: it can hand you unexpected things but miraculously in this game you all get to win somehow; as per in some ways that you may not understand or underestimate life always turns out ok. Every one of us is meant to do great things and we are all destined to be happy and satisfied with life.
Maybe, just maybe, you had a bad year or even a few bad years but now it is the time to change all this. All you have to do is welcome the coming year the best way there is. Perhaps a friend of yours or your family is physically distant from you in these days but just keep in them in the warmth of your heart and have as much fun as you can because you know what they say the entire year follows in the footsteps of New Year’s Day. Clear out your mind from the things that preoccupied you in this year and set yourself off to a new beginning, a fresh start and create a utopia of your own that will make you content and gratified.