Friday, December 30, 2011

Here's To The Old and New

The last of this season's long holiday weekends has, at long last, arrived. Just when we're ALL over shopping, holiday feasts, relatives and everything else the winter holidays bring with them we get to celebrate a new year, laying out goals and resolutions... we begin afresh. We can recharge, renew, repurpose ourselves for 2012.
Unlike the Mayans and other select groups who forsaw doom, destruction and the end of civilization as we know it, I disagree. Having read the mayan books it's about the beginning of a new age, not the destruction of the world. What will the booksellers do when 2012 is over? Remember YK2000? OMG, planes were going to fall from the sky, cars were going to careen outta control on the interstates. AND it never materialized, bummer. 
Will there be war, chaos and destuction? I don't know. The end of the world... I'm thinking not.

In a newsletter class, at work, one of the girls yesterday researched the history of New Year's resolutions. I love discovering things I haven't been aware of...  thought I would share this with you.

The tradition of the New Year's Resolutions goes all the way back to 153 B.C. Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was placed at the head of the calendar.
With two faces, Janus could look back on past events and forward to the future. Janus became the ancient symbol for resolutions and many Romans looked for forgiveness from their enemies and also exchanged gifts before the beginning of each year.
The New Year has not always begun on January 1, and it doesn't begin on that date everywhere today. It begins on that date only for cultures that use a 365-day solar calendar. January 1 became the beginning of the New Year in 46 B.C., when Julius Caesar developed a calendar that would more accurately reflect the seasons than previous calendars had.
The Romans named the first month of the year after Janus, the god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances. He was always depicted with two faces, one on the front of his head and one on the back. Thus he could look backward and forward at the same time. At midnight on December 31, the Romans imagined Janus looking back at the old year and forward to the new.
The Romans began a tradition of exchanging gifts on New Year's Eve by giving one another branches from sacred trees for good fortune. Later, nuts or coins imprinted with the god Janus became more common New Year's gifts.
What I didn't know about was the exchange of branches and nuts as gifts. Wouldn't that be a memorable gift? What would you do upon receiving this? Get a better circle of friends for one thing- the kind who give coins would be a good place to start. My preferance would be to have Ben Franklin impinted on it, in paper form, just sayin... 
And then... we have THAT song... Auld Lang Syne. Does anyone really get the meaning of this? The original language is Scottish and was composed by (one of my fav Scottish poets) Robert Burns in 1788. Another version by Matthew Fitl predates Burns poetry.  Translated into English auld lang syne can mean once upon a time...

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.

And the best part of this Scottish poetry is that it was made popular by Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians. No wonder Americans can't understand this song! The secret is to listen to a Scottsman sing this traditional Scottish folksong. What do you think?

On this note, I think I'll lift my hand and pre-toast the New Year with a glass of holiday cheer, giving thoughts to old friends and new resolutions.


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