[Bonwicke] New Year's Eve revel?

Hdec333 at aol.com Hdec333 at aol.com
Mon Dec 29 19:01:39 PST 2008


Would anyone be interested in getting together for a revel this Wednesday  to 
ring in the new year with perhaps a pot luck supper and old friends?
Hakon  and Anna
 
A bit of history:
     
 
 
Pagan Party: New Year’s traditions that hail from the depths of  antiquity

By Randy ShoreDecember 26, 2008
 
 
If your head really hurts on New Year's Day, you could point your  finger at 
the Babylonians who started this new year revelry nonsense.  Though the 
ancient Romans added the idea of alcoholic excess, or at least  perfected it. 
Julius Caesar fixed the start of the year on Jan. 1 by letting the  previous 
year run to 445 days rather than the traditional 365. The Roman  citizenry 
made their winter festival Saturnalia a celebration without  rules. So, let's 
blame the Romans. 
Any way you slice it, New Year's is among the very oldest and most  
persistent of human celebrations. 
The western world celebrates the new year on Jan. 1 in the early weeks  of 
winter, which is about as sensible as a wooden fireplace. For some  thousands of 
years before Julie and the Roman Senate got involved, the new  year was 
celebrated with the first edible crops of the season or the first  new moon. 
In much of India, Nava Varsha is celebrated in March or April, just as  in 
the most ancient civilizations. 
Sikhs celebrate Hola Mohalla in March; ditto for Persian Nowruz. 
As celebrated in China and southeast Asia, Lunar New Year still has a  
floating date, the first day of the first lunar month. 
That brand of rhythm with the earth and moon stuff is just a little too  
hocus pocus for the stiffs that run the western world. We like fixed  dates, Gaia 
be damned. 
The Babylonians celebrated with a feast and by returning borrowed farm  
equipment as it would soon be needed to work the fields. 
In fact, feasting on lucky foods is the most ancient new year tradition  and 
one that is mostly lost on young Canadians who mostly opt for the  boozing and 
vomiting option. 
(How many tuxedos and sequined party dresses have to die before we  learn our 
lesson?) 
The new year celebration is an observance of the earth's ability to  renew 
itself and sustain us for another year. In agrarian societies — that  used to be 
all societies — foods were the most potent of all new year's  symbols. (See 
my attached list of lucky foods.) 
'"It's as simple as new year equals more food equals party,'" said  Toronto 
literary researcher Gordon Timmis. '"And that basic equation  persisted from 
the most ancient times right through the middle ages to  modern times, despite 
the best efforts of the Christian churches to snuff  it out.'" 
The Catholic church has at times banned revelry around the new year,  ignored 
it through the middle ages and even tried to schedule its own  holiday to 
replace it with the rather unappetizing Feast of Christ's  Circumcision (I do not 
lie). 
Some Anglican and Orthodox churches still observe the feast on Jan. 1.  The 
Catholics finally gave up on it in the 60s. 
No matter what the date, most cultures older than ours plan the party  around 
food and not blue martinis. 
In Norse tradition the month-long Yule celebration ended around the new  year 
with a blow-out feast of Viking proportions. 
Chinese New Year is marked with a large multi-course meal. 
In Scotland Hogmanay is celebrated for at least two or three, even four  days 
(Again, I do not lie. It's the Norse influence.) and guests are  expected to 
bring whiskey or fruitcake to every person they visit. 
Non-food related symbols come to us from the ancients. 
Ancient Egyptian and Greek societies paraded a baby around to symbolize  the 
new year, at the end of winter when the crops sprouted, not the  beginning 
when we do it. 
Baby New remains a popular symbol and turns up at celebrations even  today. 
TV and print newsrooms still fall all over themselves to find the  first baby 
of the new year and your local chamber of commerce probably  showers the lucky 
infant with gifts. 
Father Time, who symbolizes the passage of time and the death of the  old 
year, is a much more complex creature. 
His most ancient manifestations come from India. Yama the god of death  and 
justice is described in the Vedas and the Upanishads, making him at  least 
3,500 years old and probably much older. 
Yama maintains order in the afterworld and assigns people their  
reincarnations, sometimes as a richer and more powerful person, other  times a cockroach. 
As the ruler of death and new beginnings, Yama has profoundly  influenced 
later precursors of Father Time such as Rome's Pluto, Chronos,  the Greek god of 
time, and the Grim Reaper of English and northern  European tradition. 
He is a kindly looking old fellow these days, sometimes depicted  holding 
Baby New Year, but few mothers in the ancient world would have  willingly handed 
their infant to such a being. 
At the stroke of Midnight, as the old year passes into the new, only  one 
tradition is left: the kiss. 
Thank the Romans. Again. 
They loved kissing and incorporated it into their Solstice and  Saturnalia 
celebrations. Thus kissing as a New Year's Eve tradition  persists today in most 
of their empire and, as a result, it has spread  throughout the new world. 
The kiss is meant to set the tone for the new year, so be careful who  you 
are standing near when the clock strikes 12. Pick a loved one. 
Awkward is not the tone you want to set for a whole year. 
rshore at vancouversun.com



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