Saturday, 27 December 2014

Celebrating the New Year

How do you celebrate New Year?  Do you have any particular rituals you follow, and do they have any real meaning for you?

There are many different rituals around the world, but there are some common themes underlying most of them.  Here are just a few examples:

In Panama, people burn effigies of well-known personalities.  The effigy represents the old year, and burning it drives away the evil of the old year, making way for the good of the New Year.

The concept of throwing away the old to make way for the new is taken one step further in Johannesburg, South Africa, where people throw old furniture and appliances out of their windows on New Year’s Eve.  If you are planning to spend New Year in Johannesburg, watch your head!

In Japan, workers have what they call a “bonenkai” party some time near the end of the year.  Literally, this means “forget the year party”.  The idea is to draw a line under what has happened during the year so you can start the New Year afresh.

In Denmark, people stand on a chair during the countdown to the New Year and leap from the chair as the clock strikes 12.

A rather different custom is the communal New Year kiss in St Mark’s Square, Venice.  What could be better than starting the New Year with love and friendship?

Finally, while most of the above is about forgetting and letting go of the old in order to start the new, “Auld Lang Syne” is all about remembering people with fondness.  “Auld Lang Syne” is an old Ayrshire folksong.  It was transcribed, but not originally written as many believe, by Rabbie Burns.  The custom of singing “Auld Lang Syne” at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve was instituted by the Canadian bandleader Guy Lombardo.

Here are the words of the first verse and chorus of “Auld Lang Syne” (literal meaning “Old Long Since”):

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 tak a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

The theme throughout most those rituals and customs is that we should clear away the clutter of the old year, all the things holding us back, and start the New Year afresh.  At the same time, we should remember those who have helped us on our way.

We don’t need a ritual to do this though.  Nor do we have to do it only on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.  I think it should be a daily practice.  At the end of each day, reflect on what has happened.  Forgive anyone who has wronged you, and forgive yourself of all the wrong you have done, releasing all the bad which will otherwise hold you back.  Think of all the good that has happened and be thankful for it, and especially for all the people who have been good to you.  Now you can sleep easy and be ready to start the new day afresh.  Make this a daily habit, remembering and being thankful for the good and washing away the bad, and you will find it so much easier to make a fresh start and achieve whatever it is you want to achieve.

If you would like help with setting your Resolutions and goals for the New Year, or for any time, take a look at my “ResolutionRevolution” -

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