Popular Pagan Holidays
Autumn: The Croning Time
Daily Goddess Awareness
Well, You Don’t Celebrate Christmas...
It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Chri... Yuletide!
For A Religion So Opposed to Paganism, You Sure Stole a Lot of Our Stuff!
Samhain: A Time for Introspection---and Activism
The Dark Half of the Year
The Halloween Witch: Sense of Humor or Sense of Ire
Ah...To Be A Witch...
Winter Solstice By Any Other Name
Anti-Witch Bigotry: Still As Popular and Deadly As Ever
Spiritual Aspects of Yule
The Beltaine Storm
Winter Holiday Intentions and Food Magik
Ostara...It's Not Just For Kiddies Anymore!
Autumn Equinox: A Point of Balance on the Wheel of the Year
Lughnasadh: The Deeper Meaning
Imbolc: Traditional Celebrations for a Modern Time
Alicia Meets Grandmother Autumn: A Children’s Story
A Meditation on Samhain: How Lucky You Are.
The Solstice Flame: A Yule Story
Traditional Yule: Make your Own Homebrewed Mead
The Tale of the Holly King and the Oak King
Supermoms’ and Superdads’ Defense Against “Holiday Kryptonite”
Ostara: Enter the Light!
A Celtic View of Samhain
A Story For Autumn
Samhain: Learning to Release
A Summer Solstice Primer
The Oak King and the Holly King Revisited
The Best Thing About Death
Winter: A Joyous Holiday Season
Witches Lost in Halloween
Imbolc...or As The Wheel Turns
The Babylonian Ghost Festival
The Celtic Origins of Samhain
The Sacredness of Halloween
The Theme of Mabon
Dealing with the Darkness, Post-Samhain
Don’t Waste That Pumpkin!
The Samhain Experience
Lughnasa: Festival of the Harvest (A Druid's Perspective)
First Thanksgiving... in China
Solstice of the Soul
A White Christmas in Fuyang
Love Lives On: A Samhain Reflection on Death, Rebirth, and the Afterlife
Beltane Beyond Sex
Solstice Swim at Beach 69, Puako, Hawaii
A Samhain Dance
Yule and the New Year
Imbolg - A Lesson of Positive Change
The Story of Ostara
Planning A Good Death: A Samhain Process
The First Yule
A Yule Story for Children ~ The Tiniest Fairy ~
Unity During Samhain
Season of the Blues
Yule...and Saturnalia Smurf Hats
Mabon..Balance and Reflection
Easter is Pagan
Bealtine: Blessing the Summer In
Thanksgiving Memories of a Native American Witch
Yuletide Thoughts, Life and Death
Ghosts, Omens, and Fact-Finding: Wandering In Today's Eco-Interface
The Blood is in the Land
Groundhog's Day is American for Imbolc
Preparing for Summerland During Samhain
Sandy Was The Name Of the Dark Goddess This Samhain
When The Crone Pays A Visit, You'd Better Pay Attention
Brighid's Healing Sword: Imbolc
The Summer Solstice: A Time for Awakening
Yules Lessons from Days of Yore: Perfect Love, Perfect Trust
The Promise of the Harvest
Samhain is Ablaze with Reflections of My Father
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
New Year Traditions
Article ID: 12286
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 2,301
Times Read: 2,536
RSS Views: 42,744
Author: Janice Van Cleve
Posted: January 6th. 2008
Times Viewed: 2,536
Happy New Year! At twelve midnight Eastern Time, the ball dropped in New York’s Times Square. At twelve midnight Pacific Time, the Seattle Space Needle exploded in colorful fireworks. In Philadelphia, Mummers in lavish costumes paraded down the city’s streets, while in Pasadena, college football teams vied for the Rose Bowl cup.
Unfortunately in the United States drunken parties – sadly too often followed by DUI arrests or even tragedy, often mark the turning of the calendar year. However, many folks turn to cooking instead of alcohol to mark the occasion.
In the southern states, eating black-eyed peas and hog jowls or ham is a good luck tradition. Cabbage, too, is said to symbolize money and therefore prosperity. Kissing strangers and friends is also traditional at the stroke of midnight in the United States but in Switzerland they kiss everybody three times and exchange hugs all around.
All over the world as December 31st clicks over into January 1st, people celebrate the arrival of the new year in different ways. In Holland, donuts are a traditional food on New Year’s Day as they symbolize the unending circle of the year.
The Dutch also burn their Christmas trees on this day and launch fire works. In Spain and Mexico, people eat twelve grapes at midnight in a ritual meant to secure good luck for the next twelve months.
Greeks celebrate the feast of St. Basil on January 1st. One of their practices is to bake a cake called Vassilopitta. A silver or gold coin is baked inside the cake and whoever finds it will have good luck for the coming year.
Danes break old dishes on the doorsteps of their friends on New Years night. Many broken dishes at your front door are a symbol that you have many friends.
The French, according to a local French chef speaking on KUOW this week, start a leisurely gourmet dinner around 8:00 pm and don’t finish until midnight.
Gotta love those French!
New Years is the most important holiday in Japan as it symbolizes renewal. “Forget-the-past-year” parties, called bonenkai, bid farewell to the problems and concerns of the past year. Grudges are forgiven and misunderstandings are healed.
In Buddhist temples, the gongs are struck 108 times to expel the 108 types of human weakness.
Many Japanese send postcards for New Years. Ecuadorians forget the past year by making a small scarecrow stuffed with newspapers and firecrackers. At midnight, the family lights the dummy to blow up the past.
In Scotland it is believed that the first person to cross the threshold on January 1st and who brings a lump of coal for the fire or shortbread for the table signals good luck to the house. The song “Auld Lang Syne” – meaning “old long since” or “times gone by” comes from Scotland. Its verses lament the drifting away of old friends and promises to maintain better connection in the coming year.
Bandleader Guy Lombardo first popularized this song at a New Year’s Eve party in the Roosevelt Hotel in New York in 1929, just after the stock market crash. It is still today sung at New Year’s midnight in bars and at parties across the USA.
Company bosses in Taiwan host a big meal on New Years Eve and a lottery in which everybody wins at least $50 and may even win a Mercedes! But not all are lucky. After the boss gives his speech, he spins a lazy susan in the center of the table to indicate the feast may begin. On the lazy susan is a whole roast chicken complete with head. If the head stops at your plate, you will be fired after Chinese New Year.
The date when the new year begins is not the same the world over. Muslims use a different calendar than in the West and generally mark the day more quietly. Egyptians await the appearance of Sirius, the Dog Star, in the heavens or the new crescent moon. Iranians celebrate the new year on the first day of spring and decorate their homes with wheat, barley, and lentils.
These are kept for thirteen days, and then thrown into the nearest river. Punjabis in Pakistan celebrate on the thirteenth of April wearing new clothes and turbans. Unfortunately this year with the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, there will be little to celebrate in that country.
The timing of the Muslim new year most closely follows its historical origins. The holiday began in ancient Babylon over 4000 years ago. Babylonians began their new year with the appearance of the first new moon after the vernal equinox, which corresponds to the Jewish Passover and the Christian Easter.
It was the Roman Senate in 153 BCE that first declared January 1st to be the beginning of the new year. This was a completely arbitrary assignment that was tampered with repeatedly until 46 BCE when Julius Caesar re-declared it for January 1. To synchronize the calendar with the sun, it is said he had to let the previous year drag on for 445 days! You can do that if you are a Roman dictator!
The Christian church opposed the celebration of the new year because it was considered a pagan practice. However, like many pagan practices, it persisted, and so the church finally adopted it as a feast day around 1600 CE. At Vatican II, the Catholic Church abandoned the feast day, and so it remains today a purely secular (can we say “pagan”?) holiday.
The Babylonians also started the practice of making new years resolutions. One of the most common was to return tools borrowed over the past year. In America, new years resolutions often take the form of the negative: quite smoking, quit drinking, lose weight, get organized, etc. These resolutions usually last a week, if that. Jennifer Vanasco, a syndicated columnist, recently encouraged more positive resolutions that we really want to do like take that trip we’ve always wanted or learning to dance or a new language.
I don’t go to parties on New Year’s Eve anymore. I can see the Seattle Space Needle from my bedroom window. I pour a glass of scotch, snuggle into bed, and read a book. At the stroke of midnight when the Needle erupts in fireworks, I toast all those brave souls standing out in the cold and rain, then turn off the light and go to sleep. My own unique New Year’s tradition actually begins the next morning.
Early on the first day of the new year, when the sky is still dark, I get up and throw on my clothes. With the faintest light just beginning to appear over the Cascade Mountains to the east, I walk to the biggest body of water I can conveniently reach, which these days is Lake Washington.
There on the pier at the end of Madison Avenue I can watch the dawning of the new day. (Little did I know, but the Koreans do this as well.) Then I pray to the ancient spirits of this land – the spirits of the Samish peoples: Makah, Quileute, Stillaquamish, Muckleshoot, Lummi, S’Klallum, Duwamish, Tualip, Suquamish, Puyallup, Quinault, and many others.
This was their land before we invaded it. This was the home of their ancestors and their gods. As a visitor, I offer homage and respect to these spirits: raven and whale, mighty volcano and lashing wind, salmon and Earth Mother.
I cast a stone that has graced my altar and received my prayers into the water. When the ripples have ceased, I turn and walk along the beach to see if a new stone will call me to take it home.
In this way I renew my proper place in resonance with the native order that preceded me here and which still whispers on the passing breeze, laps at the water’s edge, and lives in the rooted soil.
At home the new stone goes onto my altar. Then I shower, welcome the stone in ritual, and make my breakfast. That’s about the time it starts raining again.
After all, whether native or invader, we all get wet here in Seattle!
Janice Van Cleve arrived in Seattle in August 1967 and loved this place so much she settled here . . . by leave of the spirits whose home this is. Copyright 2007.
Janice Van Cleve
Location: Seattle, Washington
Author's Profile: To learn more about Janice Van Cleve - Click HERE
Other Articles: Janice Van Cleve has posted 27 additional articles- View them?
Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE
Email Janice Van Cleve... (No, I have NOT opted to receive Pagan Invites! Please do NOT send me anonymous invites to groups, sales and events.)
Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2014 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.
Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh G5.
Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections (including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wrenâ€™s Nest, etc.) are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witchesâ€™ Voice, Inc. TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.
Sponsorship: Visit the Witches' Voice Sponsor Page for info on how you
can help support this Community Resource. Donations ARE Tax Deductible.
The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.
Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
of The World
NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.
All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).