Sunday, December 30, 2012

"Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning

but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us." ~Hal Borland

As a teacher, I always see this as mid-year...I live on the school year calendar. It was Julius Caesar in 46 B.C. who decreed January 1 as the "new" year; however, medieval Europe banned celebrations as pagan and declared December 25 and the birth of Jesus as the new year. In 1582, the Pope created the Gregorian calendar and restored January 1 as the new year for the Catholic countries. The Brits and other Protestant countries held out, and it was 1752 before England and her colonies (think America) switched from March to January.
The old tin noise makers that celebrate New Year's and Halloween were part of an ancient custom to scare away evil spirits-that accounts for the Halloween ones.  There should be no evil on Times Square!   But our tin noisemakers were made by Kirchhof, U.S. Metal, J. Chein, and T. Cohn.  They were popular during the 1920s-1940s.  The age can be identified by the handles since the earlier handles were wood and the later ones were plastic. These little tin toys though are harmless compared to some of the noise customs around the world.

In Denmark, they bang on doors and throw pieces of broken pottery at houses.  Most of Europe seems to favor fireworks instead of celebration vandalism.  The Japanese go from house to house pounding bamboo sticks and banging on drums.

The French and Spanish customs are different.  The French regard the weather as the prediction for the year; wind blowing east means good fruit yield while blowing west means a bumper crop of fish and livestock.  The south winds mean good weather all year, but the north winds signal crop failure.  The French also toast until January 3 so that the leftover wine will not cause a bad year.

In Spain, you need 12 grapes for the midnight strike.  For each stroke, you eat one grape, and, if you consume all the grapes, it is good luck.  I would think small grapes would work for this!

So, whatever your custom is Monday night, work your magic...make some noise...and even though we will not have Dick Clark to usher in 2013, time marches on~Happy New Year!

"New Year's Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual."~Mark Twain

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