Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve from Past to Present...

by Carol Grinage, volunteer contributor

New Year’s is coming around once again, and once again, we will celebrate it in our own unique way.

The celebrations started 4,000 years ago with the ancient Babylonians. This day was celebrated with the first new moon of the vernal equinox, and it was religious festival called Akitu.

As calendars advanced and went through different incarnations, it was Julius Cesar who initiated January 1st as the beginning of the New Year.

Typically, New Year’s celebrations begin on December 31, New Year’s Eve, and continue into the early morning hours of January 1. During this time, people enjoy meals and snacks thought to bring good luck for the coming year.

In Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries, people bolt down a dozen grapes right before midnight with hopes of good luck for the upcoming year.

Throughout the world, New Year’s dishes feature legumes, which are thought to resemble coins and bring financial success. In Italy, people eat lentils on New Year’s Day, and in the Southern United States, black-eyed peas are popular.

Another symbol of luck in the new year is the pig, which represents progress and prosperity in some cultures. In Cuba, Austria, Hungary, and Portugal, pork dishes are part of the new year’s menu. And in Sweden, rice pudding with an almond hidden inside is served. Whomever finds the almond can expect 12 months of good luck.

In the United States, our most iconic tradition is the dropping of the ball in New York’s Times Square, but it is not necessary to go to Times Square to experience a large celebration because many cities and towns have started their own celebrations to usher in the New Year. Throughout the world, watching fireworks and singing songs to welcome the new year’s celebration.

Though many traditions exist, the overriding feature of all these celebrations is to welcome the New Year. Happy New Year!

PS: Making a New Years resolution? How about giving back? Resolve to volunteer in 2015!

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