“Though the body moves, the soul may stay behind.” — Murasaki Shikibu
After Christmas, with lots of lovely traditions that leave me feeling starry eyed and all marshmallowy soft inside, New Year’s feels like an afterthought to the holidays.
Our family has many Christmas traditions, some of which date back generations. We have added several of our own in this generation, and the one now developing. Christmas for us is a lovely time, a dichotamic mix of the expected and the unexpected, of peace and excitement, of quiet and bedlam.
New Year’s comes and goes with little fanfare. Oh, there is the annual Sacrifice of the Crustaceans on New Year’s Eve, which is a first generation tradition, replacing my mother’s fondue. And the Pajama Viewing of the Roses on New Years Day. I went to the Rose Parade as a kid. The memories of the sights, sounds and especially smells are still fresh.
But New Year’s in our house offers nothing to touch my heart. Christmas traditions are built around the celebration of the birth of a Savior, the fulfillment of a promise, and the delivery of hope. It fills my soul to nearly bursting. So, I decided to go on a quest to build some “soul” into our New Year’s celebration too.
I posted a request on Facebook for other people’s New Year’s Eve or Day traditions. A great reply from one friend who has a tradition for everything. (I am betting Sonya has some amazing way to celebrate the anniversary of her eldest child’s first report card “A.”) The other responses were all “Great idea Sonya!”
Failing on Facebook, I went to online research. My mother’s side is Danish, so I decided to start there.
In Denmark it is a good sign to find your door heaped with a pile of broken dishes on New Year’s Day. Old dishes are saved year around to throw at the homes of friends on New Year’s Eve. Many broken dishes are a sign of many friends. And the traditional meal? Boiled cod and stewed kale. Moving on…
Finnish, my husband’s primary bloodline. My research says some Finnish people cast hot, molten tin into containers of water and, when the tin hardens, look for a prediction of the coming year in the shape they find. For instance, a heart shape signifies a wedding, and a pig shape (how do you discern a pig shape in tin?) stands for lots of food. Now, where to get tin… And how do you melt it? And just how hot will it get? Oh my! Next!
I think I found it. I have decided to “be Japanese” this year. I will bid farewell to the problems and concerns of the past year and prepare for a new beginning. I will forgive misunderstandings and grudges and scrub my house clean as a sign of renewal. And I will celebrate New Year’s Day as a day of joy, a new beginning, and do no work on this day.
Instead, I will spend this day with my family, using the quiet to contemplate the good and bad, rights and wrongs, of 2011. I will say “sayonara” to a year that began with radiation treatments for cancer for me and is ending with recovery from heart surgery for our daughter. And I will move on; celebrating the beginning of a new year filled with hope. Look at the smiling faces in the picture on my post. How can I not see some great promise for 2012? A new beginning and a day of joy sound like a perfect soul-filled day!
And we will watch the Rose Parade. Which will lead to the one tradition that we do have for New Year’s Day. The Annual Reminder to my family that I attended the parade once. Complete with details! (Is that the Annual Spousal Eyeroll I see?)
Happy New Year!