Happy New Year!
December 31, 2013 § Leave a comment
Who knew? It seems that the first New Year’s was first celebrated about 4,000 years ago as an 11-day festival in Ancient Babylon. It turns out that the Babylonians are not just responsible for the celebration itself, but also one of its most popular traditions: The New Year’s Resolution. So, what was the most common resolution back then? Well, it wasn’t to lose weight or quit smoking. Nope, year after year the Babylonians promised to return borrowed farming equipment.
The Babylonians didn’t have the Roman calendar so they actually celebrated in the spring. It was Julius Caesar who made January the first month of the year. He named the month for the Roman god of doors and gates (or entrances and exits) Janus. Janus was often portrayed with two heads, one looking forward and one backwards, which Caesar thought was appropriate for looking back and forward.
Toasting also goes back to ancient history. Ulysses drank to the health of Achilles in The Odyssey. In Rome, drinking to someone’s health was so important that the Senate demanded that all diners drink to their emperor, Augustus, before every meal. The word toast came about because in the 17th century, it was common to plop a little toast or crouton in your drink as a snack. For your toasts tonight, just remember what W. C. Fields said: “I never worry about being driven to drink; I just worry about being driven home.”
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkenss of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.