I bet you didn't know that the celebration of the new year is the oldest of all holidays being observed for the first time in ancient Babylon about 4000years ago and lasting for eleven days. Each day had its own mode of celebration. The Babylonian New Year (around 2000 BC) began with the first new moon after the Vernal Equinox, which would be the first day of spring. This seemed to be the logical time to start the new year with the planting of new crops and blossoming of trees, shrubs and flowers.
Through many years the calendar changed to our new year of today which is January 1. But through the years the many traditions celebrated today have been brought forward from other lands. As Christianity spread thoughout the world these so called pagan traditions turned to more of Christian traditions. At one time the use of the baby to symbolize rebirth in the new year celebration was considered pagan and was denounced. But through the years the church finally allowed its use as the symbol of the birth of baby Jesus.
It was once thought (and maybe it is still today) that one could alter his luck and fortune for the new year by what he ate and did on the first day of the new year. So it has become common for folks to celebrate the first few hours of the new year surrounded by relatives and friends.
Then on New Years Day came the tradition of eating foods thought to bring good luck. And in many cultures anything that takes shape of a ring is good luck. While I like the tradition that the Dutch use because they believe the donut is good luck, in America it seems to be the black eyed pea. Well, good luck eating those! Usually accompanied with ham and turnip greens, my grandmother always had them on New Years Day. As a family we'd pile in the car and drive over there just for the "dose" of black eyed peas. I never saw any benefit in that but it made my mother and grandmother happy and that's all I cared about.
I find it amazing that so many traditions have a history that goes back for many years. And many families even today have their own New Years Eve and New Years Day traditions. And, yes, there are those of you that doze in the recliner until the ball drops, Auld Lang Syne is sung then stumble to your beds. That's your tradition.
Our family has always been big on celebrations. My father carried the tradition of our family having steamed shrimp on New Years Eve and bbq'd chicken on New Years Day! He kept that tradition for years and all of us would be there. And no, no black eyed peas.
So in your travels to the grocery store don't forget to buy some to cook for the family. They may bring you good luck and/or good fortune in the New Year. And don't look for me to taking a spoon full, I'm eating donuts.
Happy New Year Everyone! I hope 2010 is your best year yet.