New Year’s Traditions

All around the world on New Year’s Eve people come together and celebrate the coming of the new year in different ways. Different cultures, as well as individual families, have their own traditions.

Growing up, my family had a special New Year’s Eve tradition. Every year, my parents and I would go to my aunt and uncle’s house in Torrington. My cousins and I are close in age (Leah is one year younger than me and Phil is three years younger).  We grew up together and have remained especially close throughout the years. Every New Year’s Eve we spent the evening together, cozy and warm watching a movie, while our parents played spades in the kitchen. It was always a big deal to pick a special movie for the evening.  There were all sorts of goodies to eat, and before midnight we enjoyed sparkling apple cider. When we got older and allowed to stay up, we shared in the excitement of watching the ball drop with our parents. Afterwards, Leah and I bundled up in our sleeping bags on the living room floor, a pile of blankets on top to keep us warm, and fell asleep.

*One of our last New Year’s together before our social lives took over*

I remember one New Years Eve our parents decided to do something a little adventurous. That particular year, there happened to be a full moon. My parents, uncle, aunt, my two cousins and I took a walk around the Litchfield boardwalk in the silvery moonlight. Leah, Phil and I were avid Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys readers, and this experience was perfect for pretending to be our heroines. Our thoughts and conversations were filled with discussion of mystery. As much as we tried to act like our brave sleuths, we were a little scared and walked close together.  A few minutes later, the peaceful night was disturbed when we heard a loud crash and splash of water to our left. Leah, Phil and I screamed, and even our Uncle Tony, who was leading the pack, turned around with alarm and said: “What was THAT?” He thought perhaps my aunt had thrown something in the water to scare him. After calming down, the parents told us it was probably a beaver that we had scared and he had jumped in the water. Leah and I weren’t convinced. To this day we still recall that night of true adventure.

Years later, when we were older and had boyfriends/girlfriends, our New Year’s traditions changed. One year I went to New York City: New Year’s Eve “central” for millions of people. What I remember most about that night is the size of the crowd. I stood cold and shivering amongst thousands, packed so closely together that there was barely room to raise an arm. The glittering ball which looks so large and majestic on the TV screen was practically a dot from where I was standing.

Looking back, I enjoyed the experience of being at the center of so much excitement and anticipation, but honestly those New Year’s Eve nights spent with my family in the comforts of a warm home, surrounded by laughter and fun, have meant more to me than anything else.

This year, my husband and I will celebrate our first New Year’s Eve together as a married couple. We are planning to host a small party at our apartment with some close friends.

As with anything, traditions change over the years, but I believe we hold those old traditions close to our hearts. What are some traditions that you and your family share for New Year’s Eve?

Here are some items I found at OWL relating to my own family’s traditions, as well as some that you may like to use this New Year’s Eve with yours!

The Festive Table: Your Own Holiday Traditions by Ronni Lundy combines recipes and entertaining ideas, as well as stories about family traditions. I loved her introduction to New Year’s Eve celebration. I feel she shares my sentiments when she writes: “In modern times, however, we seem to have moved away from simple observances with family and friends toward more public spectacles. New Year’s celebrations in bars and ballrooms often find us with strangers who have little common bond other than a willingness to drink too much and pretend to have a grand time.” She says that although her children have grown and have social lives of their own, they often return home and celebrate New Year’s with their parents.

Great Get-Togethers by Anna and Lizzie Post has some great ideas for throwing a fabulous bash! From recipes, invitations and decorating, they lay it all out for you.

Holiday Cocktails offers drink suggestions for all the major holidays, New Year’s Eve being the first chapter (hmmm..I wonder why?) If you feel like being creative and playing bartender, check this out.

Holidays Around the World by Joseph Gaer explains how people all around the world celebrate different holidays, including New Year’s! In China, people stay home to celebrate where it is customary to seal all the doors with paper seals and the families sit down and have the last meal of the year together before they say good-bye to the old year.

Happy New Year Everywhere! by Arlene Erlbach is a fun little book about the different traditions around the world. It tells the date for the official new year in each country, the greeting and how to pronounce it, and some fun facts about what people do to celebrate. My favorite part of this book is the inclusion of a recipe of something special people eat on New Year’s Eve, or an activity to do. For example, you can make a special bread, similar to our French Toast, called rabanada like they make in Brazil. Or, make a balloon shaker to celebrate like the people in Ghana do with their shakers made from dried gourds.

The Everything Bridge BookCard Games and Card Games for Kids are books to get you started in the various popular card games including bridge, clock solitaire, crazy eights, spades, solitaire, hearts and straight rummy.

Family Fun and Games has more games and ideas than you will probably ever have time to get to, but it’s great if you want some ideas for new games or can’t remember how to play that one you loved as a child.

Want to have a family movie night, or looking for something to keep the kids busy? My cousins and I loved Spy Kids, full of adventure and really cool spy gadgets. Carmen and Juni’s parents are retired spies who suddenly get called back on a mission, however it becomes a family affair when their parents are kidnapped and they must try to get them back.

The Absent-Minded Professor is a classic. I love Fred MacMurray and he’ll have you laughing in this movie with his crazy creation, Flubber.

The Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mystery TV series from the 70’s  have been a favorite with me and my cousins for years. Personally, I think the actors (Pamela Sue Martin as Nancy Drew, and Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy as the Hardy Boys) really capture the spirit of the characters in the books. Every chance we got, and especially on New Year’s Eve we would slip in one of the discs and watch an episode. From time to time, we still watch an episode together. It’s a perfect blend of mystery and fun.

In recent years, I have become addicted to watching The Twilight Zone marathon on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. With my hectic schedule, I don’t feel guilty about allowing myself one day of lounging in front of the TV. Besides, The Twilight Zone makes you think: “what if…”

Here’s wishing you a New Year filled with peace, sunshine and many laughs!

Sarai is the Publicity Coordinator/Library Assistant and is currenly humming the song Islands off of Shakira’s new album, Sale el Sol.

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