​What you didn’t know about New Years’ celebrations

7 January 2016

Alas, another winter break has quickly come to an end. For the majority of us, this means leaving our families, our holiday’s idyll or our simple “doing nothingness” to favour books, classrooms and student life once again. During these months stretching ahead of us, one can comfort oneself thinking about the (hopefully) great memories created during the holidays. What about that super tasty Christmas lunch at Granma’s or that crazy New Years’ party in your wealthy friends’ lodge?.. Nothing? Well if you have nothing memorable to remember let me tell you some interesting and sometimes crazy facts about New Year’s celebration that you might not know.

For instance, did you know that New Year’s has not always been celebrated the 1st of January? The costume of celebrating the old and the New Year the first day of January was instituted by the Roman emperor Julius Caesar. He introduced the so-called Julian calendar (very much resembling the more famous Gregorian calendar) setting the first of January as the first day of the year. And I bet you didn’t know that the new year was already celebrated in 2000 BC by the Babylonians for more than 4000 years, making New Years’ celebrations the oldest of all celebrations. In many countries the welcoming of the new year carries different luck traditions that vary from country to country. For example, in the US a kiss at the stroke of midnight symbolises the purification into the new year, whereas Japanese people believe that decorating their houses with branches of pine, bamboo and plum blossoms brings longevity, prosperity and nobility to their households. In contrast to this, stands the less poetic fact that the most number of vehicles is stolen on New Year’s day than during any other holidays. What more? Interesting to know is that in Romania New Year’s celebrations involve a bear fur (hopefully a fake one) which the inhabitants the northern village of Comanesti wear while parading throughout the village. And what about the strangest of them all? Apparently in Brasstown, North Carolina (US) the lowering of a live possum at the stroke of midnight has become a beloved tradition. Although some disagreement had arose within the community for issues related to the ethic of such gesture. At the end of the day though, it doesn’t matter if you managed to get that one kiss at midnight or you strolled around in a bear fur as long as you enjoyed yourself surrounded by those who truly love you. As it is far from the intent of this piece to be a cheesy reminder on how you should be a better person in the new year, I won’t even go down that road. I will therefore limit myself to wishing you a healthy new year and quote Sir Isaac Newton who we remind in occasion of his birth the fourth of this month, “We build too many walls and not enough bridges”, which interperet at this season as cherishing your friends and being open to surprises. 

by Giorgia Chiesa

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