Happy 2011. I love that today is 1.1.11... the beginning of all things new. The number 1 signifies unity, purity, and wholeness.
I was just thinking about why or how January 1st became the start of the new year and I came across this article, so I thought I'd share it:
Why do we celebrate New Year's Day on January 1st? It all goes back to Julius Caesar. Well, actually that date was chosen in 153 B.C. by the Roman Senate. That didn't matter much though, the New Year's Eve date was celebrated whenever folks wanted to.........until Julius Caesar decided in 46 BC that it WOULD be celebrated on January 1st.
Julius actually created the Julian calender that year and decided the New Year would start on January 1st. That first year he had to make the year last 445 days in order to synchronize the calendar with the sun!
You'd think the New Year would be celebrated sometime around Spring. When things began to grow and everyone was glad to survive the winter. The Babylonians sure thought so! They celebrated New Year's Eve in 2000 B.C. with the first New Moon after the Vernal Equinox. Their celebration of New Year's actually lasted 11 days. The celebration was called Akitu.
Akitu was an enactment of a mythical battle fought between the new god Marduk and the old goddess Tiamet. It was the story of creation and sought to show bringing heaven and earth back into synch. They wanted to start the New Year fresh! At the end of the festival oracles were cast to determine the fate of the coming 12 months. Their most popular resolution was to return borrowed farm equipment!
That sure sounds like a battle between old man time of the passing year versus the new baby of the New Year. Add in some resolutions to determine your fate for the next 12 months! Actually the image of a baby was introduced by the Greeks somewhere around 600 B.C. They celebrated their God Wine, Dionysus by putting a baby in a basket on parade. That baby represented the annual rebirth of Dionysus as the spirit of fertility and rebirth.
Some Christian denominations celebrate New Year's Eve because they believe that was when Jesus Christ was circumcised!
Many churches today celebrate New Year's Eve with a "Watch Night". They start before midnight and going into the early morning. It's a time for giving thanks for all the blessing received in the old year and praying for blessings in the New Year. The Moravians landed in the United States in the late 1700's. It's believed they started "Watch Night". Later on John Wesley (founder of the Methodists) picked up the tradition. In 1862, African Americans had their own very special Watch Night on New Year's Eve. January 1, 1863 was the effective date of the Emanicipation Proclamation. It was then known as "Freedom's Eve".
The Chinese invented fireworks and used them especially on New Year's Eve to dispel evil spirits. They didn't want those nasty spirits following them into the New Year!
What kind of traditions do we follow on New Year's Day? Lots of them! Here's just a few.
1. Kissing your loved one at midnight. Start off the New Year expressing love to last through the New Year. Kiss someone else and have your loved one mad at you for a year. Yikes!
2. First footer. That's a Scottish term. A first footer is the first person to enter your house on January 1st. Preferably, he should be about 210 pounds and tall, not cross eyed and have dark hair. You have to let him in (as opposed to him using a key). He should bring gifts like coal (to stoke the fire because it's cold in Scotland in January). He's got to come in one door and leave from another door. Don't let redheads or blondes be your first footer - they bring bad luck!.
3. Don't do laundry on New Year's Day! A family member could be 'washed away' (die) in the following months.
4. Don't pay back loans or lend money on New Year's Day. That means you will do that all year long!
5. Do something related to your work on New Years Day. And be successful at it! Don't do a lot of it though, because that would be bad luck.
One of the most venerable New Years traditions is the champaign toast at midnight to ring in the new year. Toasting can be traced back to the ancient Romans and Greeks who would pour wine, to be shared among those attending a religious function, from a common pitcher. The host would drink first, to assure his guests that the wine was not poisoned. Poisoning the wine was a fairly common practice in ancient times, designed to do away with one's enemies. In those days the wine was not as refined as it is today so a square of burned bread (toast) would be floated in the wine bowl and then eaten by the last person to drink. The bread was put there to absorb the extra acidity of the wine in order to make it more palatable. Eventually, the act of drinking in unison came to be called a toast, from the act of "toasting" or putting toast into the wine.
AULD LANG SYNE
The song, "Auld Lang Syne," playing in the background, is sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every English-speaking country in the world to bring in the new year. At least partially written by Robert Burns in the 1700's, it was first published in 1796 after Burns' death. Early variations of the song were sung prior to 1700 and inspired Burns to produce the modern rendition. An old Scottish tune, "Auld Lang Syne" literally means "old long ago," or simply, "the good old days."
www.fabulousfoods.com lists the following as food things to do to celebrate the New Years:
Eating noodles at midnight is customary at Buddhist temples in Japan.
A German/Pennsylvania Dutch tradition is to eat pork and sauerkraut on New Year's day for good luck.
It is the tradition of Bosnia and Croatia (both of former Yugoslavia) to eat what is called "Sarma" or beef wrapped tightly in cabbage to bring good luck in health and wealth for the upcoming year.
It is a Cuban tradition to eat 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight. The 12 grapes signify the last twelve months of the year.
German folklore says that eating herring at the stroke of midnight will bring luck for the next year.
Eating pickled herring as the first bite of the New Year brings good luck to those of Polish descent.
In the southern United States, it is believed eating black eyed peas on New Year's eve will bring luck for the coming year.
Also from the south comes the custom of eating greens such as cabbage, collard greens, mustard greens, kale or spinach to bring money.
One more from the Southerners: eating cornbread will bring wealth.
The Southern custom of eating greens can be found in other cultures as well, although the cabbage can take many forms, such as sauerkraut or even kimchee.
In the Philippines, it is important to have food on the table at midnight in order to insure an abundance of food in the upcoming year.
Anyway, I hope this new year is the beginning of something new and a year of unity and wholeness for all of us.
PS. This post is being published at 11:11 :)
A Whole Lotta Love,