By Candy Clarke
Here we go. Another year is about to begin and it’s time to decide if we are going to commit ourselves to a particular course of action or not. Do we really want to be bothered with making New Year’s Resolutions yet again? How about the old ones? Could we just recycle them? Or maybe, we could just take one year off without doing any new resolutions.
The answers, of course, vary with the individual. Every year, it seems, our family has the same discussion regarding making New Year Resolutions. We are a house divided. I make resolutions; my husband, Frank, does not. Our youngest daughter makes new resolutions each year; our oldest daughter does not. So, is it worthwhile? Two in the family say it’s a waste of time; two of us say it’s time well spent that helps to keep us focused on what we hope to accomplish. My dog, Gunner, simply listens to the discussions until he gets bored; at which time, he stands up, gives us “get it together, people” look and slowly saunters out of the room and takes a nap. He just loves to act superior in front of his humans every now and again.
Whether creating individual resolutions or not; different cultures celebrate the new year and their hope for the upcoming year at different times and in different ways. The commonality with the various cultures is that they all involve food, noise, fellowship and hope for the forthcoming year.
In Finland, they celebrate with friends, and by serving a late meal consisting of wieners and potato salad. They also melt “tin” (it’s actually lead) in a small pan on the stove and then throw the melted metal blob into a bucket of coal water. Each blob is then analyzed “by interpreting shadows it cast by candlelight” to tell an individual’s fortune.
Denmark’s special foods include boiled cod, cured saddle of pork and stewed kale. In the Netherlands, “traditional snack foods are oil dumplings and apple slice fritters.” Germany celebrates with herring, pork and sauerkraut, while Polish people believe eating pickled herring brings good luck.
Spain boasts special foods such as “Spanish omelet, shrimp or prawns, lamb or capon.” Another tradition in Spain says that wearing new red underwear on New Year’s Eve will result in good fortune. They also eat 12 grapes just before midnight to welcome the new year.
Turkish traditions involve decorating a tree much like we do our trees at Christmas, and Santa Claus is linked with New Year’s Eve. Exchanging small gifts and special foods involving currant-pimento dill, dishes of stuffed vegetables, eggplant dishes and baklava are all part of Turkey’s New Year.
Cuba, like Spain, eats 12 grapes. In Cuba, though, they eat them at the stroke of midnight, with the 12 grapes representing the twelve months.
Good luck in health and wealth are important for the people of Bosnia and Croatia. Their traditional foods include “sarma,” a mixture of beef tightly wrapped in cabbage.
Then, of course, we have the southern United States, with the traditional black-eyed peas to bring good luck. We also have the custom of eating collard greens, kale, spinach or mustard greens, which will hopefully result in bringing money to us during the new year. Then, there is the standard of cornbread eating on the first day of the new year to bring us wealth. If only it worked!
From noise makers to symphonies; private parties to government sponsored celebrations; from small, simple get-togethers to large, elegant dinner parties; we all enjoy the hopefulness inherent with the celebrations. With or without the resolutions, welcoming the New Year brings good fellowship, good food, loud noises and hope for the future.