Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Few Facts About New Year's...!

Once again, from the pages of the Almanac, I've found some interesting things about our celebration of the new year that you might find interesting!

Often we follow old fashioned traditions without knowing their origin. I wanted to find out the source of some, and here's what I found!

Make Some Noise

* In ancient Thailand, guns were fired to frighten off demons.

* In China, firecrackers routed the forces of darkness.

* In the early American colonies, the sounds of pistol shots rang through the air.

* Today, Italians let their church bells peal, the Swiss beat drums, and the North Americans sound sirens and party horns to bid the old year farewell.

Eat Lucky Food

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

* In the southern US, black-eyed peas and pork foretell good fortune. See our recipe for Good Luck Hoppin' John.

* Eating any ring-shaped treat (such as a donut) symbolize "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 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!)

Drink a Beverage

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

* Wassail, the Gaelic term for "good health" is served in some parts of England.

* Spiced "hot pot" is the Scottish version of Wassail. It's customary to drink a glass or two at home before sharing with neighbors.

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

Give a Gift

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 are exchanged for good luck.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

In Scotland, the custom of first-footing is an important part of the celebration of Hogmanay, or New Year's Eve Day.

This practice holds that the first foot to cross a threshold after midnight will predict the next year's fortune. Although the tradition varies, those deemed especially fortunate as "first footers" are new brides, new mothers, those who are tall and dark (and handsome?) or anyone born on January 1.

Turn Over a New Leaf

The dawn of a new year is an opportune time to take stock of your life.

* 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, said to have begun with the Babylonians as early as 2600 B.C., is another way to reflect on the past and plan ahead.

New Year's Folklore

Some customs and beliefs are simply passed down through the ages. Here are some of our favorite age-old sayings and proverbs.

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

If New Year's Eve night wind blow 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!) –Robert B. Thomas, founder of The Old Farmer's Almanac

So, whether we resolve to return borrowed farm equipment (as did the Babylonians) or drop a few pounds, we're tapping into an ancient and powerful longing for a fresh start!

Anyway, I thought you might find these amusing. If nothing else, it gives you something new to talk about over coffee in the morning, right?

Speaking of which, let's get some fresh coffee and sit outside this morning! Should be warm enough, at least for a while!

Happy New Year !


JoJo said...


That sure was interesting and fun.
I hope all your wishes come true this New Year.Have great health and a little if not a lot of wealth.

Sitting outside sounds like a very strange place to be when it is 22 here. At least my pipes didn't freeze again.

Riverwalker said...

Happy New Year Jim!

Interesting post.

Stay safe in the new year!


HermitJim said...

Hey JoJo...
It's in the 60's this morning...and climbing! Supposed to be in the 70's.

Glad your water pipes didn't freeze again! It certainly sounds cold enough to do so!

Thanks, sweetie, for coming by today!

Hey RW...
Thanks, my friend! I certainly hope that safety and prosperity stay with you through this New Year as well!

Thanks for dropping by today and Happy New Year!

Kellie said...

thanks for the information! I learned a few new things. Most I already knew. It always baffles me when people practice things but do not know what they mean or where they come from -and some don't care to know. It reminds me of kids who eat candy they find on the side of a road or an employee who eats other peoples food out the break room fridge! I LIKE knowing why I do something! :)

HermitJim said...

Hey Kellie...
I never get tired of learning something new! So many things that I always took for granted, I found them interesting once I started finding out more about them!

I really appreciate the visit today...and hope the new year treats you right!

You have a good one!

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

HermitJim, thanks (as always) for a very informative post. We learn so much from your blog! Grenville and I hope you - and all of us too - have a great 2011. We look forward to seeing you around the blog.

HermitJim said...

Hey Beatrice...
I'm certainly glad that you and Grenville can pick up a little info from here!

Let's hope that we all stay safe and mostly happy through the new year, my friend!

I sure thank you for coming by today!

Dizzy-Dick said...

A good blog for the first day of the year. Hope this year gives you all that you desire. Thank you for the great blog that you always post.

Mechanic in Illinois said...

Thanks for the neat lesson. Have a safe and Happy New Year's Day.

Mayberry said...

Interesting! Happy New Year Jim.

HermitJim said...

Hey Dizzy...
My pleasure, sir! Always my pleasure!

Many thanks for coming by today!

Hey Mechanic...
Hope you don't have to plow very much more snow! Nice down here at almost 70 degrees.

I think it's supposed to turn cold again in about a week.

Thanks, my friend, for coming by today!

Hey Mayberry...
Glad you found some interesting facts here today!

I really appreciate you coming by today!

Catman said...

Happy New Year, Jim.

Fel is having me make that Hoppin' Jon recipe this evening. I reminded her she didn't like Hoppin' Jon the last time I made it.

She said your recipe sounded better :-/!

HermitJim said...

Hey Catman...
I hope that for your sake, the Hopping John turns out OK...
I like the dish myself and have it throughout the year!

Of course, being from the deep Texas area probably has a lot to do with that!

Happy New Year to you and your house, buddy! Thanks for coming by today!

Ted said...

Dizz did you know that Thomas Edison was a fraid of the dark? little trivia.

Diana said...

Happy New Year, to you and to your Mum. May you have a peaceful and serene 2011.