First of all, let me wish everyone a Happy New Year...almost!
If nothing else, I think we can all say it's been an interesting year! Strange weather, strange politics (as always), and a strange series of events leading us into the unknown of 2012!
Because of all this strangeness, I wanted to calm things down by offering a little history about new years, OK?
New Year Traditions From Around the World
Many New Year customs that we take for granted actually date from ancient times. This year, ring out the old and ring in the new with a New Year tradition—or two!
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.
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.
I do hope the rest of this new years eve goes good for all of my friends! Please, be safe and take care of yourself. It wouldn't be any fun without you all around!
Coffee in the kitchen this morning! Bread is in the oven!