Although New Year’s Eve is not one of my favorite holidays, I do watch with pleasure as the ball drops in Times Square in New York City.
As with so many other events, last year marked the one hundredth anniversary of the “ball drop” which first welcomed the New Year on Dec. 31st 1907. It has become a global symbol of celebration.
It has been estimated that nearly a million people are there in person, complete with balloons, hats and other corporate sponsored regalia. (Amazingly the clean-up is completely done overnight with nearly fifty tones of confetti, debris and other refuse removed by the next morning.) The evening includes musical numbers such as “Auld Lang Syne”, “What a Wonderful World” and John Lennon’s “Imagine”. (It’s my favorite since I am a child of the 60’s.) The evening is televised and sent all over the world through many networks and cable systems. Certainly there are similar celebrations in towns, cities and other nations, but this one has come to have a special significance.
Historically early revelers believed they could affect their coming year in a positive way by what they feasted upon or what they did.
The camaraderie of close friends and family was thought to be an excellent omen for the future and many people still like to make merry into the wee hours.
Traditional foods are also thought to play a role and many cultures look to foods shaped in a ring as bringing luck, coming full circle so to speak. Many of Dutch decent celebrate this by serving donuts to their guests on New Year’s Day. Ham is also thought to be a lucky food as the meat of the hog symbolizes prosperity. Our Chinese friends will not begin their new year until Feb. 5th, 2019 when they welcome in the year of the Earth pig which is expected to be a good one for everybody.
Parades, fireworks, dancing and paper lanterns are all part of this wonderful festival which brings a welcome lift from the February doldrums.
And, for a large number of us, the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions is a popular one. Many diets, non-smoking programs, fitness goals and non-drinking promises begin with the first day of the new year. Nations from all over the world have given us customs which we have adopted into our own revelries.
So let us all resolve to say a little prayer “every day” for world peace. These are troubled times and although, as individuals, we cannot change what nations do, we can change what we do. We can have a better attitude about neighbors and cultures different from our own.
We can be less judgmental about difference in beliefs and values. That doesn’t mean we should excuse acts of terrorism, violence, vandalism and crime. It just means that we should hold responsible the individuals who perpetrate these unacceptable evils deeds, not condemn the entire nation from which they come.
Let us hope and pray that 2019 will be safe, happy and prosperous, not just for those we love and care about, but for the whole world.