Rituals strengthen your bond: steal one of these ideas, or get inspired to think up your own.
New year resolutions are a bizarre phenomenon aren’t they? Millions of people wait until the dawn of a new year and resolve to change something about their lives. In theory, it sounds like a great idea. But reality and theory can often be a bit of a mismatch!
First, the global party which happens New Years Eve doesn’t exactly set people up for success. Most of us stay up late, drink alcohol (yes, sometimes too much) and for many it’s the best night out of the year.
Do people really expect to get up the next day and change who they are and what they do? Ah, yeah. That’s what New Years resolutions are supposed to be all about aren’t they, or am I missing something? Plus, some of us resolve to make not only one change, but a whole heap! Seriously how wasted were they? You have to ask the question; if it were that easy why haven’t they done it before?
Anyway, instead of bouncing out of bed at the crack of dawn with vigor and vitality ready to confront the challenge ahead, most of us would be quite content to sleep until noon. When we get up at such a leisurely hour, what time do you think we’ll even be out of our PJs?
Some of us might also be experiencing a bit of a hangover. Others are totally worn out from staying up till the wee hours after the insane rush of the past few weeks. In reality New Years Day is usually spent hanging out with family and friends or kicking back for solid day of r and r in front of a screen.
Plus, I don’t know about you, but how many people do you see pounding the pavement, jogging past your home New Years Day? I often see people walking, jogging, cycling and even skateboarding past my home, but New Years Day it’s like a ghost town. There’s no-one around doing much of anything.
Now, when you consider the amount of resolutions which center around weight loss and getting fit, shouldn’t we expect to see them all out there? In theory New Years Day should be the most active day of the year but in reality it’s the total opposite. See where I’m heading with this bizarre tradition?
So day two of the new year lots of people are still in holiday mode. Maybe New Year isn’t the best time to initiate a vital life change? People who vow to give up smoking, drinking or other drugs, who did start on the intended day of change are now beginning to climb the walls, argue with their loved ones and generally become a huge pain in the butt! Oh the joy of addiction! Someone hand them over a fix so we can get back to reality.
This is when some will give in and others remain staunch in their resolve to quit. There maybe some people beginning to getting active and the traffic of joggers, walkers and skateboarders resumes. It seems resolutions aren’t a total loss after all! Maybe there’s some hope?
When you look at little closer, you’ll notice these active people are the regulars who are out there day after day anyway. Look at them. They don’t need to drop 20kg. So, where are all the people who do? Maybe they’re exercising their right to get to it later?
Day 3 to 30: By now almost all resolutions are being realised as the fantasy they are and have been tossed where they belong – in the too hard basket. Unless something immediate is threatening life like a dinosaur chasing after them to gobble them up, how many people are really going to change on January 1?
We all know we shouldn’t smoke, eat crap, drink too much, take drugs, blah, blah, blah, but people who are serious about change just do it. New Years resolutions are like many other bizarre outdated traditions. We have no idea why we do it, but we do. We kid ourselves into thinking we can achieve something life changing before the strike of midnight and then annually set ourselves up to fail. It confirms the fact that if aliens are watching us, no wonder they haven’t announced their arrival!
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I could safely say that most of us know why we celebrate Christmas Day and Easter, but what about New Years Eve? Why do so many cultures across the globe farewell the passing year and welcome in a new one with lavish celebrations, fireworks, kisses at midnight and that weird song, “Auld Lang Syne”? I wanted to find out what it’s all about and share what I’ve discovered.
The first New Year’s celebrations
According to history.com, the first celebration to mark the new year began about 4000 years ago in ancient Babylon. It wasn’t celebrated on January 1st, like we do now. Their New Years Day was celebrated in late March with the arrival of the first new moon after the spring equinox (which was based on the movement of the sun).
They developed a religious festival call Akitu (Sumerian for barley) which lasted for 11 days. Behind the festivities was the belief that good powered over evil, which served a political interest when either a new king was crowned or current ruler’s mandate was renewed.
In other cultures, such as Egypt and China, the new year was marked by agricultural or astronomical events. For example, Egypt’s new year was when the Nile flooded, bringing new life to the province.
Celebrating New Year’s Day on January 1st
It wasn’t until 46 B.C. when Julius Caesar pronounced the Julian Calendar, which similar to the Gregorian calendar used today across many cultures, including our own. This was when January 1st initially became New Years Day. They celebrated by giving sacrificial offings to the God Janus (the Roman god of beginnings), exchanged gifts, placed laurel branches in their homes as decorations and had parties. The parties were quite an event where things apparently went a lot further than the humble smooch! Noise was encouraged to ward off evil spirits.
With the rise of Christianity in Medieval Europe, New Years day celebrations were replaced in lieu of Christian events such as Christmas Day. This is how it remained until 1582, when January 1st was reclaimed as New Years Day by Pope Gregory XIII.
New Year’s resolutions
The first of the traditions which were celebrated, date back to the instigators of New Years Day; the Babylonians. Their resolutions were in the form of promises to the Gods, like paying back their debts and returning borrowed farm equipment. To them, this was important stuff. Ultimately they wanted to get in the good books with the Gods for the upcoming year.
Consuming certain foods
In many countries foods plays an important role in celebrations, but not so much in our own culture. In Spain and Spanish speaking cultures, they consume a dozen grapes just prior to midnight to secure good fortune for upcoming months.
Legumes like lentils in Italy and black-eyed peas in the southern United States also symbolize good fortune because of their coin like appearance. Pork features prominently in places like Cuba and some European countries. Ring-shaped cakes and pastries, feature in the Netherlands, Mexico, Greece and other places. The Swedes and Norwegians hide an almond inside rice pudding and whoever finds it should expect a fortunate upcoming year.
The Chinese are the traditional creators of fireworks and therefore most celebrations included them. Their loud noise is said to ward away evil spirits. These days we celebrate with fireworks because they are enjoyed by so many people and cities put on marvelous displays for the masses.
Auld Lang Syne
Auld Lang Syne was a poem written by Scotsman, Robert Burns in 1788 and sung to the tune of a traditional folk song. In many English speaking countries, it’s sung at midnight on New Years Eve to farewell the old year and welcome in the new one. Many people know the tune, but by midnight the words often get a bit muddled!
Kissing at midnight
Giving and receiving a kiss at the strike of midnight New Years Eve began out of superstition. The ancient Romans were believed to have been the first to pucker up to ward off loneliness for the upcoming year. It’s also rumored that things went a wee bit further than kissing and there were possibly a few orgies going on in the prominent homes. Now, they really wanted to make sure they weren’t lonely!
The English and Germans elaborated on the superstition, believing that the quality of the kiss would indicate the quality of happiness experienced for the remainder of the year. This may be why the New Years Eve kiss is believed to be a special kiss, particularly for couples.
The Time Square ball drop
1904 was the first New Year to be welcomed in at Time Square. By 1907, Adolph Ochs, owner of The New York Times, commissioned Artkraft Strauss to design and construct an electrically lit ball which would drop at the stroke of midnight. He wanted something other than fireworks to wow the growing crowds.
Since then the ball has dropped each year, except 1942 and 1943 due to WW2 blackout restrictions. It has been reconstructed over the years and millions of people, world wide look forward to the famous Times Square New Years Eve ball drop.
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As the countdown to the new year begins, everyone is planning where they will be and who they will be with when the clock strikes twelve. Plenty of couples stay home together New Years Eve. They’ve had their single fun and as the years pass by they begin falling asleep before midnight, ignoring the traditions and just pass it off as yet another night in as the rest of the world celebrates.
For singles, though it’s something very different. It’s a magical night filled with possibilities. Not many singles sit home on New Years Eve. It’s usually the biggest night of the year because they’re all out there celebrating the start of the new year and what it has to offer. Will it be a new romance, a new job or new life? The passing of one year to the next is an opportunity singles don’t want to miss out on.
They also have that traditional New Years kiss lingering in the back of their mind. Will they miss out or will they find someone to kiss as the clock strikes midnight? Who will it be? Will it be Mr or Mrs Right they meet and kiss on this magical evening?
In reality, those who do land a hot steamy kiss on New Years Eve are usually plucked out of the crowd when other singles see they have no-one to lock lips with. This only happens because everyone has had way too much to drink and inhibitions suddenly disappear because it’s New Years Eve and kissing is expected.
Regretfully, it probably won’t be the magical experience of two strangers meeting, embracing and living happily ever after. No. It will be more like being grabbed by an intoxicated stranger and having their tongue shoved down ya throat!
You know the kisses I mean? The ones that are all tongue and no lips. It’s almost like the lips don’t connect at all as the tongue takes centre stage. In reality, the stranger is probably only an hour off of passing out and it’s like they are trying to get all the tongue action they are going to get all year, in that one sloppy New Year kiss. I’m not too sure what’s so magical about that, but plenty of singles are out there New Years Eve and this is what a large majority experience.
When you stop and think about it, it’s a bizarre phenomenon, this New Years Eve kissing thing. As the clock strikes midnight, french kissing in public is the norm, not the exception. Society dictates that adults and teens for that matter, should have their tongue twisting around in someone else’s mouth. Seriously, it’s one of those traditions which makes me wonder where on earth did this come from?
Was it a shy single who wanted to take advantage of flowing booze and high spirits? Maybe they thought it was the only way they’d actually land a kiss during the year; right smack bang when it starts. Was it some intoxicated stranger who kissed another intoxicated stranger on New Years Eve and started this?
No. Apparently it was the Romans. How many centuries ago was that?! Now those people were known for avid promiscuity because they weren’t only partaking in public kissing! It was more like a New Years Eve orgy and everyone got in on the act. Ha-ha, we think our society is sex oriented. Those randy Romans really knew how to welcome in the New Year with a bang!
It’s quite amusing how their ummm … tradition, has made its way into our century in a much tamer fashion and continues to engage singles year after year. Even though they aren’t publicly shagging their way into the New Year like the Romans; there remains a certain magic of New Years Eve for singles. So, if you’re single on New Years Eve, enjoy the freedom, land that kiss and thank heaven and hell you aren’t an ancient Roman!
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