New Years Ancient Traditions and Modern Reflections

As 2012 draws to a close, I am letting out a sigh of relief, if nothing else, at least I survived the Mayan calendar.  But what is it about a new year that promotes a sense of optimism of the coming new year?    Maybe the new year means new beginnings, a chance to start over, make resolutions that will improve the new year.

Celebrating the new year is ancient tradition.  Four thousand years ago, the ancient Babylonians ushered in the new year with with the first new moon after the Vernal Equinox (the first day of Spring).  Those Babylonians knew how to party, their new years celebrations lasted for 11 days.  

In 153 BC The Romans declared the new year to be January 1.  The Romans marked the new year by decorating their homes with light and greenery.  They also exchanged gifts.  (sound familiar?)  These gifts were chosen for their luck-bringing properties, such as sweets or honey to ensure peace, gold, silver monetary presents to ensure prosperity, and lamps for a year filled with light. It was also the time of the year to expel the ills of the previous year, and establish a positive pattern for the new year. 

Celebrating the new year is an ancient tradition.  Although I don't think I will party like a Babylonian, I plan to celebrate the conclusion of 2012.  I think I will take a more Roman-esque approach, purge the ills of last year, and prepare for self-improvement this year. 

By the way, if anybody intends to follow the Roman tradition of gift-giving, I will gladly accept and appreciate gifts of gold and silver.

Heureuse Nouvelle Aannée mes amis!


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