A New Year of tradition

Do you ever wonder where the traditions of celebrating New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day came from?

Do you ever wonder where the traditions of celebrating New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day came from?

The Romans dedicated this day to Janus, the god of gates, doors, and beginnings, and the month of January was named after him.  Janus had two faces, one looking forward and the other looking backward.

The countries who use the Gregorian calendar celebrate New Year’s Day on January 1.

Here in Canada, many people gather at lakes, rivers, and area waterways, running into the frigid waters to celebrate the New Year.  These events are sometimes known as polar bear plunges, and are sometimes organized by groups to raise money for charity.  North Thompson Valley residents annually take part in the Polar Bear Dip in Little Fort, where funds raised go to the local Food Bank.

During New Year’s celebrations, some editorial cartoons depict a ‘Baby New Year’ who arrives at midnight as the old year goes out.  Baby New Year quickly ages until he is elderly (like Father Time, whom he is often associated with) at the end of his year.  He generally performs some sort of ceremonial duty over the course of his year, such as chronicling the year’s events, or presiding over the year as a symbol.  At this point, Baby New Year, who is now an old man, hands over his duties to the next Baby New Year, while he remains in this state and retires.

In addition to being a mythical figure, the Baby New Year is sometimes a real person. The first baby born in any village or city in a certain year may be honored by being labeled as the official Baby New Year for that year.  In the Barriere area, there is a New Year’s Baby Contest, where the first baby born in the New Year can win its own weight in loonies.  Babies from McLure to Little Fort are eligible for this prize.

Another New Year’s tradition is the making of resolutions.  A New Years resolution is generally a goal someone sets out to accomplish in the coming year. Some examples include resolutions to donate to the poor more often, to stop smoking, to become more physically active, or to become more environmentally responsible. A key element to a New Years resolution that sets it apart from other resolutions is that it is made in anticipation of the New Year, and that one hopes to accomplish it before the end of that coming year.

Most New Year’s Eve celebrations kick into high gear when, at the stroke of midnight, fireworks go off, and Auld Lang Syne is sung.