Mayor Louis Manzo provides history on New Years and resolutions
These final days of the year are a time for reflection on 2017 and preparation for your New Year’s celebration. Did you know that tradition is more than 4,000 years old? In 2000 B.C., the Babylonians celebrated the New Year for 11 days (starting with the vernal equinox). Making “resolutions” dates back to this time also, when a common resolution was returning borrowed farm equipment; which makes sense for that agriculturally based society. The Babylonian New Year was adopted by the Romans as was the tradition of resolutions.
The timing, however, eventually shifted under Julius Caesar in 45 BC to the Julian calendar. The first month of January was named after the two-faced Roman god, Janus, who looks forward for new beginnings as well as backward for reflection and resolution.
Because Jan. 1 is the first day of the New Year, we have drawn a connection between what we do on that day and our fate throughout the rest of the year. Some superstitions exist in attempting to guarantee a good outcome through our acts on that important first day. They include kissing at midnight: we kiss those dearest to us at midnight not only to share a moment of celebration with our favorite people, but also to ensure those ties will continue throughout the next 12 months. Failure to smooch our significant others at the stroke of 12 a.m. could set the stage for a year of coldness. Stocking up our shelves with food and supplies ensures our sustenance for the rest of the year. We pay off bills so we enter the year with a clean slate. Perhaps the most interesting superstition is known as first footing. The first person (sometimes called the “Lucky Bird”) to enter your home after the stroke of midnight will influence the year you’re about to have. Ideally, they should be dark-haired, tall and good-looking. Blonde and redhead first footers bring bad luck. Did you know that?
At midnight, you should open all the doors of your house to let the old year out and take note of the weather, especially the wind direction. Wind from the south is good, from the north indicates a bad weather year, from the east is misfortune and from the west is too strange to explain, haha. Best is no wind at all in the early hours of Jan. 1. And anyone born on New Year’s Day is said to always have luck on his or her side.
Superstitious or not, enjoy the holiday. On behalf of your township committee, I wish you and your family a healthy and prosperous New Year.