31 December 2010

31 December - New Year's Eve; 7th Day of Christmas

Weather:  The weather today foretells the weather of July.  Beautiful!  Sunny, clear, and warm!

If on New Year's Eve night the wind blow south,
It betokeneth warmth and growth;
If west, much milk, and fishes in the sea;
If north, much cold and storms there will be;
If east, the trees will bear much fruit;
If northeast, flee it, man and brute!

And if it has been calm all evening?

Yeah, not quite the number of candles needed.  Try multiplying by...
Today is my dear brother's birthday, and I wish him many more.  Happy Birthday, Mark!
To end the old year merrily, and begin the new year well and in friendship is the object of our celebration tonight.

Finish your projects, make sure your house is clean and in order, pay your debts, and make up any differences you have with others.  You want to start with a clean slate.

It is time to make resolutions for the new year.  If you have access to a fireplace or a bonfire, or even a small brazier outside, write down all of your bad habits - which of course you intend to give up - and throw the paper in the fire to rid yourself of their influence.  Then turn over a new leaf and start afresh tomorrow.

Open the front door at midnight to let the Old Year out and usher the New Year in.

To ensure 12 happy months in the coming year: at the stroke of midnight, eat 12 grapes (very lucky if you eat one at each stroke).  Then frighten away the powers of darkness with noise - ring the church bells, set off fireworks, honk the car horns...

Tonight is another fine night for fortune telling, by dropping a little melted lead into a bowl of cold water and deciphering the resultant shapes: a pig is good luck and plenty, a ring foretells a wedding, a plane or boat means travel, etc.

As for First-Footing...  the term refers to the first person to enter your house on New Year's Day (which starts at midnight).  There is no consensus about who brings the most luck.  In some places, a fair-haired man is lucky; a dark man is bad luck.  In others, a dark-haired man is lucky; a red-headed man is bad luck.  He must be a bachelor; his marital status doesn't matter.  However, under no circumstances should the first person to cross your threshold be a man with flat-feet or a squint, and certainly not a woman, no matter what her physical attractions.

The First-Footer should bring a gift, or at least something besides himself, into the house, for:

Take out and then take in, bad luck will begin.
Take in, then take out, good luck comes about.

Traditionally, the gift was a loaf of bread, a bottle of whiskey, or a shovelful of coals.  Of course, for bringing luck to your house, you must remember to reward him with liquor or small gratuities.

Some people have traditional dinners for this night, like the boiled cod with mustard sauce of the Danes, or the German carp or dried pea soup.  Our traditional dinner continued the theme of "Bad Habits Day", in which no one made even a pretense of eating healthy foods.  Each person chose his favorite - usually some type of fast-food - and we trooped out to pick up each one: pizza here, triple-decker burger and mega-fries there, Chinese take-out, fried chicken, fish-and-chips - whatever suited the individual palate.

And then we solemnly resolved that even if we couldn't quite give them up in the coming year, they would be rarely seen.

[Well, we always meant to keep that resolution anyway.]

In the name of the Lord
The Old Year goes out the door.
This is my wish for each of you:
Peace forever, and praise to God, our Lord.

Happiness, good luck, and blessing to you all.