Monday, December 31, 2012

Holiday Handout: Day 22

It is New Year's Eve today.  Along with the traditional New Year's Eve parties and events taking place throughout the world, this day also has significance in two very different parts of the world:  Japan and Scotland.  

Did you know that the New Year celebration is one of the most major events in all of Japan? In Japan, Omisoka  refers to New Year's Eve.  I've learned that each year the Japanese spend many hours shopping and cleaning their homes to get prepared for the new year.  It is supposed to represent the idea of eliminating the past and starting the new year afresh.  Shogatsu is the celebration of New Year's day itself and it is a time when Japanese people decorate their homes and gift their children with toys and money.  It is also a time when greeting cards are shared with family and friends. Food delicacies such as fish cakes, boiled seaweed, mashed sweet potatoes with chesnuts, soybean mixtures and other items are all a part of the festive spread.  When midnight strikes on the 31st of December, bells ring out in the Buddhist temples a total of 108 times. After the bells finish ringing a feast of soba noodles takes place which everyone partakes in.

Over in Scotland, Hogmanay is celebrated starting today.  The celebration of Hogmanay, the Scottish word literally meaning 'the last day of the year' begins the night of December 31st and lasts throughout the night carrying on until the 'Ne'erday' which is January 1st.  Depending on the location in Scotland and possibly even the household, the celebration sometimes carries on until January 2nd, which is considered a bank holiday in Scotland.  

Apparently the customs associated with Hogmanay are different for different locations within Scotland.  In the north-east part of Scotland in Stonehaven, a 'fireball swinging' custom takes place.  People make balls of chicken wire, tar and paper and then people swing the balls over their head while walking through the streets. It seems that the main attraction of the day is casting the burning balls into the harbor which apparently makes an impressive display in the evening.  It is meant to signify "the power of sun to purify the world by consuming all evil spirits" (New Year in Scotland).  Then, over in Burghead in Moray, the burning of the clavie is common.  This is an ancient Scottish custom where a bonfire of casks is split in two (The clavie) and then lighted on January 11th which is the first day of the year according to the Julian Calendar.  One of the casks is rejoined together with a huge nail, filled with tar, lighted and carried around the village while it flames.  Finally it is carried up to a headland where the ruins of an altar stand.  Here it forms the centre of the bonfire built up of the split casks. When the barrel of burning tar falls into pieces, the people scramble around to get a lighted piece so that they can kindle the New Year's fire in their cottage hearth. The charcoal of the clavie is then collected and put up the cottage chimneys "to keep spirits and witches from coming down" (Wikipedia).

Isn't it amazing what you learn when you start interacting with a world wide audience?  I have gained so much knowledge over the course of the last 22 days in an effort to learn about holiday traditions in different cultures and religions around the world and I am a better person because of it.  I have tried to be as inclusive as possible.  I know that I missed a few traditions at the beginning of December and promise to touch on them next year.  When I started the holiday handouts 22 days ago I had no idea as to the extent that I was going to cover.  I certainly never intended to offer so many of them or delve into so many different traditions but as each day went by it became more and more important for me to continue until the new year was upon us.  I hope that you have enjoyed the freebies and have learned a thing or two along the way about the people around you.  If there is someone interested in teaching me about their own cultural or religious traditions as they relate to the holidays, I would love for you to send me an email.  I intend to continue down this path next year but hope to expand it to be more inclusive of the new people in my world.

Wherever you are, I hope that you have a fun filled but safe day.  What are your family traditions for New Year's Eve?   Traditionally, my husband Raymond and I sit around, watch movies and nibble on hors d'oeuvre for two days straight--well I suppose we do take time out to sleep in between.  This year Raymond will be working for part of today so we'll be starting our celebration a bit later than usual.  We started this tradition because when we were first together, I could never go to any dances or parties because there was alway smoking at them (I have asthma and am highly allergic to smoke) and, well these days, while there is no longer any smoking allowed at public events it's kind of difficult to dance with two canes and a broken down body so we just stick with our made up tradition.

Here is your holiday handout for today.

Only one sleep to go before a brand new year...

Until next time,

References:
 Author Unknown. (unknown). Burning of the Clavie. Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burning_of_the_Clavie. Last accessed 30th December 2012.

Author Unknown. (unknown). Hogmanay. Available: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hogmanay. Last accessed 30th December 2012.

Author Unknown. (unknown). New Year In Scotland (hogmanay). Available: http://www.happywink.org/newyearfestival/new-year-in-scotland.html. Last accessed 30th December 2012.
Putatunda, Rita. (2012). Winter Holidays Around the World. Available: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/winter-holidays-around-the-world.html. Last accessed 30th December 2012.

Sim, Martin. (2006). About the Fireballs. Available: http://www.stonehavenfireballs.co.uk/history. Last accessed 30th December 2012. 

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4 comments:

Naomi Edwards said...

Hi Lisa!!!! I am back and doing really well, I read your comment yesterday on my blog and I am so happy you read it after you got back.. thank you for caring enough about me to get emotional, that mean't so much to me... now you can be happy that I am on the mend!! Thank you for the History of New Years..it is so interesting , I learned so much in this one post , I even learned a tid bit more about you ..I didn't know you have asthma! Happy New Year my sweet sweet friend and thank you for the Celebrate digi!!!! Awesome job! Hugs

Vicky F. AKA Crafting Vicky said...

Thank you for sharing those awesome traditions. I didn't know about this.

Happy new year. All the best happiness and health.

Kathleen said...

A great freebie, thank you!

txexperiment said...

Thanks for sharing!