January New Year Traditions
January is named for the Roman god Janus, protector of gates and doorways. Janus is depicted with two faces, one looking into the past, the other into the future.
Puzzle of the Month of January
“Soon as I’m made, I’m sought with care, for one whole year consulted. That time elapsed, I’m thrown aside, neglected and insulted. What am I?” (Answer at the bottom of this post.)
New Year Traditions
Make Some Noise.
- In ancient Thailand, guns were fired to frighten off demons.
- In China, firecrackers routed the forces of darkness.
- In the early American colonies, the sounds of pistol shots rang through the air.
- Today, Italians let their church bells peal, the Swiss beat drums and North Americas sound sirens and party horns to bid the old year farewell.
Eat Something Special
Many New Year traditions concern food. Here are a few:
- In the southern United States, black-eyed peas and pork foretell good fortune.
- Eating any ring shaped treat (such as donuts) symbolizes “coming full circle” and leads to good fortune. In Dutch homes, fritters called olie bollen are served.
- The Irish enjoy pastries called bannocks.
- In India and Pakistan, rice promises prosperity.
- Apples dipped in honey are a Rosh Hashanah tradition.
- In Swiss homes, dollops of whipped cream, symbolizing the richness of the year to come, are dropped on the floors and allowed to remain there!
Drink a Beverage
Although the pop of a champagne cork signals the arrival of the New Year around the world, some countries have their own traditions.
- “Wassail,” the Gaelic term for “good health,” is served in some parts of England.
- Spiced “hot pint” is the Scottish version of wassail. Traditionally, the Scots drank to each other’s prosperity and also offered this warm drink to neighbors along with a small gift.
- In Holland, toasts are made with hot, spiced wine.
Give a Gift
- New Year’s Day was once the time to swap presents.
- Gifts of gilded nuts or coins marked the start of the new year in Rome.
- Eggs, the symbol of fertility, were exchanged by the Persians.
- Early Egyptians traded earthenware flasks.
- In Scotland, coal, shortbread and silverware were traditionally exchanged for good luck.
Happy New Year!
P.S. Puzzle answer: An almanac!
There’s also a free Happy New Year poster you can download, although it’s for the year 2017. Feel free to alter it, if you’d like.