the first month of the year in the Julian and Gregorian calendars and the first of seven months to have a length of 31 days. It is, on average, the coldest month of the year in most of the Northern Hemisphere, and the warmest month of the year in most of the Southern Hemisphere.
January was named for the Roman god Janus, known as the protector of gates and doorways who symbolize beginnings and endings. Janus is depicted with two faces, one looking into the past, the other with the ability to see into the future.
The Romans often made promises to Janus and exchanged good wishes, which is probably where new year's resolutions came from.
A few traditions
❄In Scotland, December 31 is known as Hogmanay. “First footing” (or the “first foot” in the house after midnight) is still common across Scotland. To ensure good luck for the house the first person to cross the threshold into the home should be a dark-haired male bringing with him a piece of coal (to ensure the house would never be cold), bread (to ensure a full larder), and a wee dram of whisky.
❄In Spain people attempt to eat 12 grapes during the 12 strokes of midnight! Tradition says that if they succeed before the chimes stop, they will have good luck for all 12 months of the coming year.
❄ In the southern US, black-eyed peas and pork foretell good fortune.
❄ In Dutch homes eating any ring-shaped treat (such as a doughnut) symbolizes “coming full circle” and leads to good fortune. Fritters called olie bollen are served, and diving into the North Sea, lakes and canals is popular.
❄ The Irish enjoy pastries called bannocks.
❄ In India and Pakistan, rice promises prosperity.
❄ Apples dipped in honey are a Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) tradition.
❄ In Swiss homes, dollops of whipped cream, symbolizing the richness of the year to come, are dropped on the floors—and allowed to remain there!
Did you know?
❄ New Year’s Day was once the time to swap presents.
❄ Gifts of gilded nuts or coins marked the start of the new year in Rome.
❄ Eggs, the symbol of fertility, were exchanged by the Persians.
❄ Early Egyptians traded earthenware flasks.
Some customs and beliefs are simply passed down through the ages. A few favorite age-old sayings and proverbs are:
❄ On New Year’s Eve, kiss the person you hope to keep kissing.
❄ If New Year’s Eve night wind blow south, It betokeneth warmth and growth.
❄ For abundance in the new year, fill your pockets and cupboards today.
❄ If the old year goes out like a lion, the new year will come in like a lamb.
"Begin the new year square with every man" [i.e., pay your debts!]
Robert B. Thomas, founder of The Old Farmer’s Almanac
So, whether we resolve to return borrowed farm equipment (as did the Babylonians) or lose a few pounds, we’re tapping into an ancient and powerful longing for a fresh start!
∼ Be warm and well ∼