Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Auld Lang Syne

Tomorrow is New Year's eve. I don't really have time for dwelling on the thankless (12-hour) job of restoring some as semblance of order to my home, by packing away countless tubs of holiday decorations, lugged out once a year for what amounts to - in our case - 21 days, or should I say... 500 hours. Phew! But, who's bitter?

Onward and upward. Tomorrow is New Year's Eve and people around the world will be celebrating the start of a new year. Interestingly enough, while the idea of ringing in the new year is universal, the ways in which people do it is not. Here's what I mean...

Netherlands: Right after midnight, people in the Netherlands dive into freezing water to take a New Year's Swim. It is meant to bring good luck and health (of all things).

Greece: Greeks bake a St. Basil's Cake, baking into it a silver or gold coin. Whoever finds the coin is said to be especially lucky in the new year.

Dominican Republic: Cleaning is the name of the game in the Dominican Republic. People do a thorough cleaning of their homes before the new year and assure that all brooms and brushes are safely put away. No sweeping is permitted on New Year's Day, as it is believed you could sweep away the good things along with the bad.

Hungary: Hungarians burn straw replicas of a figure called Jack Straw. He is said to be the embodiment of the evil and misfortune of the past year.

Scotland: This might be one of my favorites. Shortly after midnight, people pay neighbors visits - called, "First Footing." Typically visitors present one another with coal or shortbread. You are considered especially lucky if a tall, dark, and handsome man is first to enter your your home in the new year.

Japan: At midnight in Japan, temples strike their gongs 108 times in an effort to expel the 108 types of human weakness. I'm not sure what the 108 weaknesses are, but I'm wondering if we could ring a bell 218 times in celebration of our 218 virtues?!?!

Spain: It is said Spanish people eat 12 grapes to secure 12 happy months in the coming year.

Beeny's: I realize we're not a country (though sometimes the goings-on in our house can seem somewhat foreign) , but still I thought it would be fun to share the one thing we seem to have done every year since 2000, when Richard and I rung in our first new year together. We got married in November of 1999 and spent our first Christmas in New York visiting my family. Our flight was to return home on New Year's Eve Day. Earlier in the week we were walking through the city and noticed vendors selling party glasses made in the shape of 2000. We bought a pair... and then I had an idea.

Wouldn't it be great to document each New Year's Eve, and what we did, by having our photo taken while sporting a pair of that year's glasses? The pairs of glasses we've needed to purchase each year has grown, as our family has gotten bigger, but it is always fun to put them on and pose for our annual New Year's Picture. Some years have been fun, spent with friends at a comedy club or out at dinner. Others have been more low key, with just our immediate family at home and asleep by 12:01. And still, others have been so quiet we needed to take our picture using the self-timing feature on our camera.

I'm always sure to take a few minutes to write a short paragraph summarizing what we did, as it is amazing how much can be forgotten in just a single year. The added fun to this is that Richard and I sealed a time capsule at our wedding. It is our intention to host a large party on our 25th wedding anniversary, in 2024. I fully expect to create a great display of all our New Year's photos for the party. It will be a great (and visual) stroll down memory lane.

Here's a preview of what's to come, but I'll post the official picture on Thursday morning.
How about you? Do you and your family have any New Year's traditions or rituals? Tell us about them.

Signing off until tomorrow...

P.S. If you are like I am and have no real knowledge of what the traditional New Year's song, "Auld Lang Syne" means, then take a second and find out. It's interesting and maybe this year you'll actually sing the correct words! http://enwikipedia.org/wiki/Auld_Lang_Syne

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