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Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v09n01)
Right in my Own Backyard - Here We Go! - by Brandt Carter
posted: Jan. 06, 2012

Right in my Own Backyard header

Here We Go!
Being greeted with a "Happy New Year!" always makes me smile. There's such a feeling of optimism and possibility with the dawn of another year - a sense stepping over a divide, out of the past and into a fresh future. There's something so energizing about hanging up 2012 calendars with only the January page showing and 11 more months waiting to be revealed.
After the strains of "Auld Lang Syne" have welcomed the New Year, I like to see the Scottish tradition of "first footing" fill the young days of January. In Scotland, neighbors begin paying visits to each other shortly after midnight of New Year's Eve to greet one another and exchange well wishes. I'm told that this custom used to involve bringing a gift of coal for the fire or shortbread. My mother always gave away plates of holiday cookies well into the New Year as long as the tins in her freezer held supply to do so. I learned from her example how gratifying it is to renew friendships and associations after having been family-focused in the height of holidays.
I also appreciate the emphasis on renewal associated with the New Year in Japan. There Bonenkai or "forget-the-year parties" take place to prepare for a new beginning. Houses are scrubbed and grudges are abandoned. To my way of thinking, letting bygones be bygones and moving on to accept come what may is every bit as worthwhile as sitting down to make a list of resolutions. These good intentions all too often fall by the wayside as the pace of life picks up once again. It is said that the Babylonians were probably the first to make New Year's resolutions, and people around the world have been breaking them ever since.
Rituals the world over are an interesting aspect of how we proceed into a new year. In Spain, eating 12 grapes at midnight accompanies the wish for 12 happy months, in the Netherlands, burning Christmas trees to say goodbye to the old; in Greece, finding a coin baked inside a New Year's cake to be the lucky one in the year ahead. Launching a New Year with special foods is widespread in America. There's Hoppin' John (black-eyed peas and ham hocks) in the South and red cabbage in other places. My dad was always one for smelts, each fish eaten was supposed bring $1000 in earnings in the next year. We learned to eat them with gusto!
So as we push ahead in this still young year, here's hoping we can hang on to the good spirit and feeling of renewal in our lives. I wish you the best in 2012!


Brandt Carter, artist, herbalist, and naturalist, owns Backyard Birds at 2374 E. 54th Street. Visit her web site www.feedbackyardbirds.com. Email your bird questions to Brandt@BroadRippleGazette.com




brandt@broadripplegazette.com
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