Happy New Year!…

Happy New Year!

            New Year’s, Hogmanay, Oshogatsu, Calennig, Ano Nuevo, Oud en Nieuw, the celebration of the New Year has many names, rituals and traditional foods from around the world.  One common theme amongst the myriad of traditions is sharing the New Year with loved ones, reflecting on the year that has past and welcoming in the wishful prosperity of the new.   Even though the New Year has officially come and gone for most of us I have spent some time reflecting on my New Year’s past.

In my few years of life, I have been fortunate to celebrate the New Year in other states as well as over seas.  One could say that the New Year’s celebrations of my New England childhood are regarded as modern American. Often celebrated with my immediate family, my brother and I would feast on junk food, soda and sweets only to suffer from a stomach ache, sugar crash and the inability to stay awake long enough to watch the ball drop in Times Square on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.

New Year’s Day was always greeted by watching the Rose Bowl Parade on the television and gathering with my extended family over a nice brunch to toast the New Year with loved ones. Also included in this tradition was the mad rush to finish all of my homework for Christmas vacation in one short afternoon, a resolution I could never fulfill.

As a teenager, I was most fortunate to spend a year abroad in the Netherlands with a host family. In a small town not far from Amsterdam, we wished each other a “Gelukkig Nieuwjaar” and feasted on homemade “oliebollen” (raisin donuts) and “appelflappen” (apple fritters) which is the traditional Dutch food for New Year’s Eve.  At the stroke of midnight, just about everyone will set off fireworks in the streets.  It’s quite the outstanding sight to behold from a safe distance since there are roman candles going off everywhere!

You can find these delicious Dutch recipes in The Art of Dutch Cooking or How the Dutch Treat by C. Countess Van Limburg Stirum.  This book offers a huge collection of traditional Dutch recipes from appetizers, soups, sauces, fish, vegetables and desserts.

In college, I often celebrated New Year’s Eve with my friends along the Turquoise Trail in New Mexico. Unbeknownst to me at the time, theNew Mexico custom at midnight involves stepping outside to shoot off your gun.  Gunshots can be heard over a great distance ringing throughout the hills.  If you happen to be celebrating at the local tavern’s costume ball your safest bet is to remain indoors, undercover, and take stock in the fact that a lot of men and women around you are all packing. Of course, the band is only getting warmed up at midnight.  Naturally, we butchered the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne which is commonly regarded as one of the most popular songs that no one knows the lyrics too. Honestly, after reading the lyrics I now understand why.

For James Taylor’s version of this New Year’s classic you can check out his CD  At Christmas.  In his traditional style of folk music, Mr. Taylor also adds some jazz and blues riffs to this melodic CD which includes “Winter Wonderland” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

By far, my favorite New Year’s celebration is of my own making.  In the comfort of my own home, with the woodstove keeping us toasty warm, I will share a nice meal and movie with my sweetheart with my puppy by my side. These days, I have given up trying to stay awake until midnight or pressuring myself to make a resolution.  Instead, I retire to bed early and wake up refreshed and ready for the New Year.  After a hearty breakfast of homemade pancakes and home fries I am ready to begin my New Year by doing my favorite activity which is ceramics or oil painting.  For me, doing something you love and sharing a relaxing day with loved ones is the proper way to start the New Year.

For more books, CD’s and DVD’s regarding the New Year’s holiday check out these items from our collection.

When Harry Met Sally– A charming romantic comedy combining the acting talents of Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan and directed by Rob Reiner.  Who can resist Sally’s quirks and Harry’s incessant babbling?  Even though it takes Harry over 12 years to profess his love for Sally on New Year’s, it’s the journey of their friendship that makes this love story so endearing.

The Legend of 1900A moving film starring Tim Roth who is orphaned as a newborn on the SS Virginian on January 1, 1900.   Follow Roth’s character as he travels back and forth across the Atlantic entertaining passengers as a celebrated pianist during the roaring 20’s.  When the Virginian becomes decommissioned will “1900” finally step foot on dry land to begin his life anew?

Happy New Year Everywhere! By Arlene Erlbach

This insightful children’s book explains New Year’s traditions from around the world and it even includes fun New Year’s craft’s, songs and recipes you can make with your children or grandchildren.

The Chinese New Year By Cheng Hou-tien
An informative children’s book with bold scissor cut illustrations that explains the historical traditions of the Chinese New Year including the honoring of Tsao-Chun, the fireworks celebration, the Dragon dance, the Lion Dance, and the Lantern festival. Chinese New Year is celebrated between January 21 and February 20.

Just in Time for New Years! By Karen Gray Ruelle
A delightful children’s book about Harry and Emily’s quest to stay awake for the ringing in of the New Year.


Tricia Messenger is the Publicity Coordinator & Library Assistant for the Oliver Wolcott Library

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