The start of a new year has been celebrated worldwide for thousands of years. Since the dawn of time our ancestors have taken every opportunity to celebrate life with festivals and to eat, drink and make merry with friends and family.
Throughout history, different civilizations around the world have celebrated the new year at different times of the year. New Year festivities have always been connected to an astronomical event like the solstice, or agricultural events like harvest time.
For instance, in Egypt, the new year was celebrated at the time of the annual flooding of the Nile River and the rising of the Dog star Sirius. While in China, New Year’s Day was celebrated at the second new moon after the winter solstice. In India the festival of Diwali (the festival of light) coincides with the Hindu New Year and celebrates new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness.
The earliest recorded festivities for the New Year date back to the Romans in Babylon, more than 4,000 years ago. At that time, the calendar only had 10 months, beginning with March. March 1 was the first day of the new year and coincided with the time of the first new moon following the vernal equinox, a time when there was an equal amount of sunlight and darkness. The festival of Akitu was celebrated over many days with many ritual offerings to the gods.
As the early 304-day Roman calendar didn't align with the seasons, King Numa Pompilius reformed it around 700 BC by adding the months of January and February to the original 10 months, which increased the year's length to 354/355. days.
Then, in 46 BC Julius Caesar proposed the Julian calendar, further reforming the Roman calendar which took effect on January 1, 45 BC. New Year’s day has been celebrated on January 1 ever since.
In 1582 Pope Gregory XII reformed the Julian calendar even further. Today, the Gregorian calendar is the international civiil calendar used worldwide. Though several different countries like China, Afghanistan and Ethiopia still use their own calendars for the timing of festivals, etc. In fact, the U.S.A. did not ‘officially’ adopt the Gregorian calendar until 1752. Prior to this, the new year was celebrated in March.
Making ritual offerings to attract good fortune in the coming year has often been a common practice. At the New Year we exchange well-wishes with our friends, family and neighbors. Just as the Romans, today we still celebrate the New Year by cleaning and decorating our homes, as well as dressing up and going out to parties to welcome in the New Year.
NEW YEAR’S TODAY
In the modern era of the 20th century, New Year’s Day has moved away from being a strictly religious celebration to a holiday festival all its own. Typically, at the New Year we focus on improving our relationships, as well as contemplate our past and how we want to move forward in the New Year. We often make resolutions to better ourselves, sing traditional songs like Auld Lang Syne, enjoy watching parades and toast each other at midnight, as we prepare for the year ahead.
NEW YEAR TRADITIONS
Kissing at midnight on New Year’s eve dates back to ancient European times. Though it’s history is vague, according to English and German folklore, the first person you encounter in a new year — and the nature of your encounter — sets the tone for the rest of the year. Kissing was also believed to offer blessings and bring people good luck as they entered a new year.
Overindulgence in food and drink on New Year’s Eve is quite common. Champagne as the drink of choice at midnight can be traced back to the use of wine in the Christian tradition of Eucharist — taking the blood of Christ. As wine from the Champagne region of France began to be used in baptisms, it began to used more frequently at religious events and ceremonies. Thus champagne, bubbly wine, soon became the popular drink of choice at parties and marketed as the way to celebrate.
“Auld Lang Syne”
The song “Auld Lang Syne” was a poem pinned by 18th century Scottish poet Robert Burns. The song means “old long ago” and is a nostalgic tribute to the love and kindness of days past. In 1929 it became popular in America as a way to to end and begin the New Year and has remained so ever since.
The New Year is considered one of the most auspicious times of the year to attract wealth and abundance. Numerous traditions are practiced around the world at the New Year to attract money and good fortune in the coming year. For example, the color of your undergarments and clothing you wear now is thought to bring prosperity in the coming year. Red and green are two of the most popular colors. Red brings love in relationships while green brings abundant good health. In the country of Spain, eating 12 grapes, at the stroke of midnight is thought to bring good luck. While, in the Philippines, circles represent infinite prosperity, and the 'jangle' of loose, round coins in your pockets is believed to attract money.
Since ancient times, scent has been used to attract good fortune. Tradition has it that certain aromatic scents help you attract wealth and increase your prosperity consciousness.
Prosperity Oil Recipe
Here’s a very simple and easy to make recipe for a prosperity oil blend to attract wealth and auspicious circumstance in the New Year.
- Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis) - 120 drops
- Cinnamon leaf (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) - 60
- Black Spruce (Picea mariana) - 20 drops
To a 5ml (100 drops) euro-dropper bottle add drops of your prosperity oil blend. Cap your bottle tightly and shake vigorously to thoroughly blend your oils. Allow to synergize for 12 hours or longer before using. Follow manufacturer's guidelines and add drops of prosperity blend to your aroma diffuser. Also, makes a wonderful aromatic mist.
NEW YEAR'S DAY FOODS
New Year’s Day foods are seen as a way to celebrate the New Year. Grounding foods are also a great way to help you recover after a New Year’s Eve filled with partying and over indulging to bring in the New Year. Many of the traditional New Year foods have meaning and tradition behind them. For instance, in the South where I grew up, we had a tradition of serving ham, black-eyed peas and dark leafy greens on New Year’s Day.
Black-eyed peas are perhaps the most common and well-known of all the good luck foods. The idea of eating black-eyed peas for good luck dates back as fa 500 A.D., when they were used as part of the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah, celebrated in the fall. There are different stories behind why these little gems are considered good luck in the South. One story goes that, during the Civil War, the Union Army would ransack the Confederate soldiers’ food supply. They would mistakenly leave the peas and pork behind, believing they were for the farm animals, and not fit for human consumption. Of course, Southerners were grateful to have these food supplies. Another belief is that, when slaves were freed on New Year’s Day after the Civil War, black-eyed peas was one of the few staples they were allowed. Hence, black eyed peas became a symbol of freedom.
Symbolically, black-eyed peas are thought to represent humility and lack of vanity. The old adage comes to mind, “Eat poor on New Year's, and eat fat the rest of the year.” Peas also slightly resemble coins. Finally, since they expand in volume when cooked they symbolize expanding wealth and prosperity. Tradition has it that, black-eyed peas eaten with cornbread symbolize gold and represent wealth and good health.
Pork has become a good luck food because of pig’s behavior. Pigs bury their snouts in the ground and always root forward as they eat, and of course, forward is the way you want to head in the New Year. Pigs represent staying focused, making progress and gaining momentum in the New Year. Pork has long been associated with prosperity and progress. The tradition of eating pigs for good luck also has a long history in German and Eastern European countries and in many other cultures around the world. A pig's gaining weight is thought to symbolize gaining cash and wealth.
Of course the deep green color of collard greens, spinach and kale symbolize money and prosperity, which plays a large role in why greens are one of the foods of choice for a New Year’s Day meal. Also, before you cook greens the leaves resemble paper money and dollar bills. Greens are also known to be healthy foods and when eaten symbolize continued good health in the New Year.
MORE NEW YEAR TRADITIONS
New Year’s is full of noise makers, loud music and endless shouts when making merry. Along with this comes the explosive finale of celebrations with fireworks lighting up the sky to bring in the New Year. This tradition of loud noises like fireworks is also thought to help ward off evil spirits and misfortune in the New Year.
It’s believed that the first people to make New Year’s resolutions were the Babylonians over 4,000 years ago. Resolutions were made as promises to the gods and to attract auspicious circumstances in the year ahead. Likewise, Romans offered sacrifices to the gods and believed making promises would attract benevolent outcomes in the year ahead. While Christians, on the first day of a new year, reflected on their past mistakes and resolved to make improvements. Today, resolutions are focused primarily on self-improvement goals and fulfilling one's desires for the year ahead.
Making a gratitude list is also a great way to celebrate the New Year. Having a grateful heart is one of the best ways to attract prosperity. Giving thanks and taking time to acknowledge how even the seeming ‘bad’ things that happen in our lives can help us to move forward and make progress in the New Year.