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By Lia Blanchard

So… what did you do today? In my family, we’ve built a tradition of doing something outdoors on New Year’s Day. We find it a relaxing yet invigorating way to spend time together that also reminds us to keep important things close.

There are many ways that folks across the globe commemorate the day of Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and transitions, with one face that looks ahead to the future and another that looks behind to the past. In the United States, we make a lot of noise at midnight and kiss our partner – because it’s believed to set the tone for the year to come, with evil spirits scared away by the noise and our relationships healthy and intact.

Auld Lang Syne: what does that mean??

Known as the “most popular song that no one knows how to sing,” the literal translation is “old long since,” indicating times gone by. The words, first transcribed by Scottish poet Robert Burns, are a lament about missing old friends, but reminding oneself that they can always reunite, if not in person than in memory. It became a traditional New Year’s song when Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians played it at a New Year’s Eve party at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City from 1930 through 1976, eventually being broadcast nationally, first on radio then on television.

Parades: what’s the deal with all the parades on New Year’s Day?

From the Mummer’s Parade in Pennsylvania to the Rose Parade in California, and countless parades in between, we Americans love our New Year’s Day parades! It’s a fun and festive way to begin a new year, don’t you think?

Black-eyed peas: why are they lucky?

It’s believed that black-eyed peas got their lucky reputation during the Civil War, when the northern troops – who destroyed or wiped out all other crops – ignored the lowly but nutritious legume. Tradition holds that one should eat at least 365 black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day to ensure the best chance of luck every day in the year ahead.

For prosperity, black-eyed peas should be served with greens and cornbread – the legumes symbolize coins, the greens paper money, and the cornbread gold.

Why do we drop things on New Year’s Eve?

Honestly, I don’t know why we drop things on New Year’s Eve, but I can tell you that it isn’t always a large round ball. Around the United States, Americans are dropping all sorts of weird things, including sardines, a giant flea, a muskrat in a bow tie and top hat, many different kinds of fruit, pickles, and a possum in a plexiglass pyramid.

What are your traditions – weird or boring – on New Year’s?

happy-new-year-2013