December 29, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts - The New Year Trivial Trivia Edition



It's hard to believe that 2009 is quickly coming to a close.  This is the final Tuesday of the year, and the final Random Tuesday Thoughts of 2009.  That sounds so final, doesn't it?  Since I'm dealing with the fall-out of the flooded basement and sick and clingy Princess Nagger, I've found some interesting New Year Trivia to keep you entertained for today:

The New Year in Scotland is called Hogmanay. The people in Scotland follow a ritual that appears crazy, but actually has a great significance. One can find barrels of tar set afire and gradually rolled down the streets in the villages of Scotland. This ritual symbolizes that the old year is burned up and New Year is going to begin.

The tradition of using a baby to signify the New Year was started around 600 B.C by the ancient Greeks, who at the start of a year would carry a baby around in a basket. The purpose of it was to honor Dionysus, the God of Fertility and symbolize his annual rebirth.

In Columbia, Cuba and Puerto Rico, families stuff a life-size male doll with things, then they dress it up in old clothes from each family member. At the stroke of midnight, this 'Mr. Old Year' is set on fire. This is done with the simple belief that a doll thus stuffed has bad memories or sadness associated with them, and that the burning will help one do away with all past griefs and usher in happiness in life with the coming new year.

In Spain people eat 12 grapes as the clock strikes midnight (one each time the clock chimes) on New Year's Eve. This peculiar ritual originated in the twentieth century when freak weather conditions resulted in an unseasonable bumper harvest of grapes. Not able to decide what to do about so many grapes at Christmas time, the King of Spain and the grape growers came up with the idea of the New Year ritual.  (We could modify this tradition with wine...after all, it's made from grapes!)

Late on the evening of December 31, people of Japan would eat a bowl of buckwheat noodles called "toshikoshisoba" ("year-crossing noodles") and listen for the sound of the Buddhist temple bells, which were rung 108 times at midnight. The sound of these bells is said to purify the listeners of the 108 sins or evil passions that plague every human being.  (I wonder what happens when someone has 109 sins?)

In Greece children leave their shoes by the fireside on New Year's Day (also the Festival of Saint Basil in Greece) with the hope that Saint Basil, who was famous for his kindness, will come and fill their shoes with gifts.

In Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, and Mexico, those with hopes of traveling in the New Year carry a suitcase around the house at midnight. Some even carry it around the block to ensure traveling at greater distances.  (Alrighty then - guess I better get my suitcase ready and head around the block!)

The people in China believe that there are evil spirits that roam the earth. So on New Year they burn crackers to scare the evil spirits. The doors and windows of every home in china can be seen sealed with paper. This is to keep the evil demons out.

The first Ball Lowering celebration atop One Times Square was held on December 31, 1907 and is now a worldwide symbol of the turn of the New Year, seen via satellite by more than one billion people each year. The original New Year's Eve Ball weighed 700 pounds and was 5 feet in diameter. It was made of iron and wood and was decorated with one-hundred 25-watt light bulbs.

It was thought that one could affect the luck they would have throughout the coming year by what they did or ate on the first day of the year. It is still held in some regions that special New Year foods are the harbingers of luck. For that reason, the Dutch believe that eating donuts on New Year's Day will bring good fortune. The hog, and its meat, is considered lucky because it symbolizes prosperity. Cabbage is another "good luck" vegetable that is consumed on New Year's Day by many. Cabbage leaves are also considered a sign of prosperity, being representative of paper currency. In some regions, rice is a lucky food that is eaten on New Year's Day. The ancient Persians gave New Year's gifts of eggs, which symbolized productiveness.

Many cultures believe that anything in the shape of a ring is good luck, because it symbolizes "coming full circle," completing a year's cycle.

Many parts of the U.S. celebrate the new year by consuming black-eyed peas. These legumes are typically accompanied by either hog jowls or ham. Black-eyed peas and other legumes have been considered good luck in many cultures.  (Ham I can get on board with - but hog jowls?  I think I'll pass, thankyouverymuch!)

In China, many people wear in the new year a new pair of slippers that are purchased before the new year, because it means to step on the people who gossip about you.  (I'm off to buy new slippers before Thursday!)

"Auld Lang Syne" is sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every English-speaking country in the world to bring in the new year. At least partially written by Robert Burns in the 1700's, it was first published in 1796 after Burns' death. Early variations of the song were sung prior to 1700 and inspired Burns to produce the modern rendition. An old Scotch tune, "Auld Lang Syne" literally means "old long ago," or simply, "the good old days."

For those of you (like me) who never know what the lyrics are, here you go:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot and days of auld lang syne?
For auld Lang syne, my dear, for auld Lang syne,
We'll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld Lang syne.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot and days of auld Lang syne?
And here's a hand, my trusty friend and gie's a hand o' thine
We'll tak' a cup o' kindness yet for auld Lang syne.

Happy New Year!  Go forth and be Random!


randomtuesday

33 Random Sassy Comments:

Laoch of Chicago said...

Nice post!

Kirby3131 said...

You certainly packed a lot into that bit of New Years random trivia. I have to say that I don't believe in luck. as in, I don't do things specifically to have good luck or avoid others for bad luck...but I could use some productiveness and some money - so it looks like cabbage leaves and eggs are in my diet on New Years day lol and while I'm at it, I'm shopping for slippers, too. haha

Ahh, the good old days. I remember them well.
Kristin - The Goat

Marla said...

Well, we already eat 12 grapes at midnight (I'm Spanish) and black eyed peas on New Years Day (I'm an Okie) but I must say ... I simply MUST practice Hogmanay beginning in 2010!! Now, how to get the neighbors to join in the fun...??

otin said...

In my house we have a tradition of stuffing things into a lifesize female doll! hahahahaha!

The whole ball drop is kind of silly when you really stop and think about it.

Happy New Year!

Secretia said...

Stacy, that was a good read. I hope i do the 12 grapes thing this year, not 12 shots of whiskey!

New Year Messages said...

In the New Year, may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship, but never in want.

honeypiehorse said...

Wow. Here in Germany we plan to eat fondue, converse, dance a bit, do fireworks and drink champagne at midnight. Now that sounds boring.

Brian Miller said...

what cool traditions...i just came from an italian blog that spoke of the tradition of slipping on red lacey underwear just after midnight...thinking we may need to start some new traditions here in th miller household.

Martha in PA said...

Great traditions, we started the grape thing a couple years ago, and the black eyed peas too. Years ago we started having a pork roast for New Years Day dinner, not sure where that tradition came from.

I hope you are getting dried out and PN is feeling better soon. How about the winds today? I almost got hit on the head by a falling branch when I took the dog out!

mommytoalot said...

I enjoy reading about other countries traditions. However, I noticed you never mentioned Canada??!!
I do like you version of Spain's tradition..wine instead of grapes..mmmm
I do have new slippers...
..and i'll tell you one thing so you know for next time..
In the city where I live..we have an annual New years outdoor concert with some of our countries most popular bands. It's free and family oriented which means alcohol free, It's freezing cold most years but that doesn't stop the crowds. me...i've never been, i like to watch it f rom the comfort of my home.
...other than that..us Canadians celebrate a lot like you Americans.
cheers

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

I don't know about stuffing a doll and then setting it on fire. I mean that is kinda...weird.

This year we promised Thor he could stay. I doubt he makes it a lick past ten though :)

Happy RTT!

qandlequeen said...

Here's one you need to add to your list - not sure where it originated:

BURY YOUR MONEY!

Put a dollar bill (domination does not matter) in a ziplock bag (not necessary step, just easier later) and bury it in your yard before New Years Eve - like right now. If you don't have a yard, bury it in a houseplant. When you bury it you say something along the lines of "now I bury my debt"

Then on New Years Day, dig it up and say "now I uncover my wealth"

At some point during the year you will be blessed with unexpected money.

I belong to a messageboard where everyone believes this works and reports throughout the year when they discover new money. It's kind of wild.

Momma@Live. Laugh. Pull your hair out said...

I realized how little I know about this topic.......

Jan said...

The whole thing with the burning barrels of tar is rather frightening, since the Scottish also use Hogmanay as an excuse to get stupid, falling down drunk for three straight days.

And thank you for the bit about pork and cabbage being considered good luck food - it goes a long way to explaining this obsession with pork chops and sauerkraut (sauerkraut - blech!!) here in Northeast Ohio at New Year's. Me? I'm eating my traditional Texas meal of lucky black-eyed peas with cornbread. Yum, yum.

PJ said...

thank you for gathering all of this information of the different traditions. i very much enjoyed reading this. have a wonderful day...hugz!

CaJoh said...

This is great. Gives me a lot more things to do for New Years Eve. We typically do the grapes thing and our latest is to take those popper confetti things and shoot them at the tree.

Thanks for your randomness,

VandyJ said...

Great trivia. I always enjoy learning new stuff. we started a New Year's Eve tradition last year and snack all afternoon and evening. Turbo gets to stay up but only makes it to about 10:30 pm. Hope your New Year's is better than Christmas was.

Kristina P. said...

You always have the coolest information!

Steven Anthony said...

great info....crazy yr...bring it 2010;)

I am Harriet said...

Happy New Year Stacy.
Hope you are having fun.

Shangrila said...

Whoa! So much that I didn't know about New Year's! Happy New Year, Stacey, and Happy RTT!

diane said...

My eyes got all misty reading the lyrics to OLS. Shut up, you know you did too.

Elle said...

Cool random New Years trivia. Hope you guys had a nice Christmas in spite of everything! Happy New Year! I'll send you some hog jowls (blech!)LOL!

Anne said...

Wow, I can imagine my neighbors' reaction if I lit a barrel of tar on fire in the middle of the street. It is almost worth trying, just to see their reactions. That was a lot of information, I think I will try everything to make sure I have a good 2010. I can use all the help I can get.

Mrsbear said...

My family is from Cuba, and I have to say I've never heard of the ritual with the stuffed dolls set ablaze. 12 grapes was as exciting as it got. I will have to ask my grandparent's though. Sounds nuts.

Maven said...

Interesting traditions!

A few years ago my husband (the Poolboy) and I began a new tradition of our own that we borrowed from San Francisco. Every year we make a big pot of Cioppino and fill it with the best fresh seafood we cn find. We also slurge and buy cavier, good champagne - the works - mix up martinis and have a wonderful party for two.

This, of course, can now be accomplished since our son has grown up. But it's something I look very forward to every year.

Happy New Year Stacey!

Maggie said...

The year went by soo darn fast! I hope PN feels better soon!

gayle said...

Wow!! Most of that info was new to me. Here in the south the more black-eyed peas you eat the more money you will have. Haven't had any in a few years...maybe I should start eating them.

Kasey Hunt said...

you know your stuff!! very informative. Happy New Year!!

Smart Mouth Broad said...

I always learn something good here. Thanks, Stacy!

Grand Pooba said...

Wow, them are some crazy traditions! They seriously dress up a human doll and burn him?

And all we do is drop a dumb ball!

Happy Thoughts said...

We buy round fruits. We believe it signifies good luck. :)

Happy Thoughts

Cristin said...

Loved the trivia!

I will try to swig some wine twelve times at the stroke of midnight... It will be tough, but I'll suffer through somehow.