A History of Celebration

New Year's festivities have deep roots.
Grit Staff
January 7, 2008
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It wasn’t always about the ball dropping in Times Square or the throngs of folks gathered in Chicago’s loop. The new year was celebrated long before champagne had been invented to toast it. Then it was all about the return of the season of life

Some 4,000 years ago in ancient Babylon, the new year was celebrated with the first new moon to rise after the vernal equinox. We can blame the Romans for moving the celebration to January 1. Julius Caesar cemented that date in 46 B.C. when he established the Julian Calendar as the only official date keeper.

Still associated with pagan ritual during the Middle Ages, New Year’s celebration was soundly condemned by the Christian church. As a result, most Western nations have openly participated for only the most recent 400 years.

Some New Year’s traditions observed in the United States, such as making resolutions, date back to early Babylon. Today we often resolve to lose weight or quit smoking; a Babylonian’s most popular resolution was to return borrowed farm equipment.

The Tournament of Roses Parade dates to 1886, and the Rose Bowl football game was first scheduled as part of the Tournament of Roses back in 1902. The following year the game was replaced with Roman chariot races; the football game returned in 1916 as the centerpiece of the festival.

Several food traditions continue with each New Year’s Day. It has been thought that one’s luck depended on what was done or eaten on the first day of the year. This is what prompts many holiday parties to continue after the stroke of midnight, and why people celebrate the new year with friends and family. Folks also believed that the first visitor of the new year would bring good or bad luck for the rest of the year.

Eating doughnuts is a Dutchman’s way of “coming full circle,” thus bringing good luck to the next year. Many in the United States sit down to a meal of black-eyed peas and ham; such legumes have been considered good luck in many cultures. A recipe for Marinated Black-Eyed Peas, from the Good Things to Eat archives, can be found below.

Sing “Auld Lang Syne” at the top of your lungs at the stroke of midnight January 1 and bring in 2008 with style. The song was written in the 1700s by Robert Burns, and was first published in 1796 after his death. Look below for the lyrics.

— information from Web site, http://Wilstar.com/holidays/newyear.htm

Marinated Black-Eyed Peas

2/3 cup vegetable oil
5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 medium onions, chopped
1 cup chopped parsley
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons crumbled basil leaves
1 teaspoon crumbled oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Dash of red pepper flakes
1 package (16 ounces) black-eyed peas, picked and rinsed
Green pepper rings

Combine oil, vinegar, onion, parsley, garlic, basil, oregano, mustard, black pepper and red pepper flakes in a 4-cup measure; set aside.

Cook peas according to package directions; drain and place in a large bowl. Stir dressing mixture and pour over warm peas; toss gently to mix. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, tossing once.

Line a large platter or serving bowl with green pepper rings; place marinated peas in a mound in the center. Serve.

Auld Lang Syne (by Robert Burns)

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your pint-stoup!
And surely I’ll be mine!
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


We twa hae run about the braes,
and pou’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin’ auld lang syne.


We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin’ auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere!
And gies a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll tak a right gude-willie-waught,
for auld lang syne.


Auld Lang Syne (modern translation)

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
And surely I’ll buy mine!
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.


We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine (dinner time);
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give us a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.


lyrics from Wikipedia.com

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