Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year

On the ancient Roman calendar, New Year fell on March 1st where there had been just ten months and March was the first month of the year. The calendar originated from the cycles of the moon, beginning in spring and ending with autumn planting.
The Roman Emperor Julius Caesar officially declared January 1st to be a New Year in 46 B.C. and January was established as the first month of the year on the Roman Julian Calender.
It was named after the god Janus ( which meant 'Door' in Latin ) he was therefore the guardian of doors and gateways ( the space that leads from one place to another ) and his two faces allowed him to look forward to the future and backward to the past.
The Anglo Saxons had called this 'Wolf Monath' as this was the time of year that wolves would be driven by hunger to enter the villages in search of food.

Pope Gregory XIII abolished the old Julian calendar and introduced the Gregorian calendar which comprised of a leap year every four years to maintain balance between seasons and calendar. Finally, in 1582, the Gregorian calendar was set to celebrate New Year on the first day of January.

On New Years Eve - December 31st - also called Hogmanay in Scotland, celebrations to welcome in the new year begin, with singing and dancing and on the stroke of midnight, people join hands and sing a traditional Scots poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 called  'Auld Lang Syne' which translates as meaning 'Old Long Since', or more generally 'For ( the sake of ) Old Times'.

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne ?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we'll take a cup of 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† ;
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.

The New Year starts with a Pagan tradition called 'First Footing', where a tall dark haired man - preferably a stranger would knock at the door and be the first one to step over the threshold of the house, bringing with him a gift of coal and bread, ensuring that the Luck of the household would continue and that it remained warm and with enough food until the summer arrived. People wished one another 'Lang May Your Lum Reek' ( hope your chimney will smoke for a long time ).
When the visitor left, he took a pan of ashes from the hearth with him, signifying the departure of the Old Year. 

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