Happy New Year to Our Military, Happy New Year Everyone



New Year’s Day is every man’s birthday.
~ Charles Lamb

In the New Year, may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship, but never in want.

~ Traditional Irish toast

Happy New Year from the Sentinel and God bless you in the new year. God keep our military safe.

The first new year in recorded history was in Mesopatamia in about 2000 BC. It was celebrated about the time of the vernal equinox in mid-March.

The Egyptians, Phoenicians, and Persians began their new year with the fall equinox, and the Greeks celebrated it on the winter solstice.

The Romans celebrated on March 1st until January was added to the calendar around 700BC when King Pontilius, Rome’s second king, added January and February. In 46 BC, Caesar introduced a far more accurate solar-based calendar and New Year’s day became January 1st on a consistent basis.

It was abolished in the Middle Ages as too pagan with December 25th becoming the celebration of the New Year.

The Gregorian Calendar restored January 1st after it was first wiped out in 576. Catholic countries jumped on it but Protestants lagged until as late as 1752 England. [Infoplease]

Click here to learn how to say Happy New Year around the world.

“Auld Lang Syne” is the most common New Year’s song and it was the Scottish who brought us this beautiful old song. It was first published by the poet Robert Burns in the 1796 edition of the book, Scots Musical Museum. Burns transcribed it (and refined the lyrics) after he heard it sung by an old man from the Ayrshire area of Scotland, Burns’s homeland.

In Scotland, Auld Lang Syne is often used to symbolise other “endings and new beginnings” – including farewells, funerals (and other memorials of the dead), graduations, the end of a (non-New Year) party or a Boy Scout gathering, the election of a new government, the last lowering of the Union Jack as a British Colony achieves independence and even the closing of a retail store. [Wiki]

Click here for a history of the song.

The Scots call New Year’s Hogmanay. In the 1600’s, Scots would go from door-to-door crying “Hagmane.”

Shetland Island Hogmanay Celebration
Shetland Island Hogmanay Celebration

The Scandinavian word for the feast preceding Yule was “Hoggo-nott” while the Flemish words (many have come into Scots) “hoog min dag” means “great love day”. Hogmanay could also be traced back to the Anglo-Saxon, Haleg monath, Holy Month, or the Gaelic, oge maidne, new morning.

But the most likely source seems to be the French. “Homme est né” or “Man is born” while in France the last day of the year when gifts were exchanged was “aguillaneuf” while in Normandy presents given at that time were “hoguignetes”.

Christmas in Scotland was banned from the 1752 to 1950. Their holiday was New Year’s. There are traditions before midnight such as cleaning the house on 31st December (including taking out the ashes from the fire in the days when coal fires were common). There is also the superstition that one must clear all your debts before “the bells” at midnight. [Rampant Scotland]

The Scots welcomed friends and strangers, make a break with the old and begin the new year with happiness. The first foot in the door had to be a dark male (the blond Vikings of old meant trouble.) They had to bring coal, shortbread, salt, black bun and whisky. I’d be content with the whiskey.

Literally Auld Lang Syne means since the day, old long since, or times gone by, meaning that for the sake of our long friendship we should join hands and share a drink together in the spirit of good will. We should never forget old friends.

I couldn’t pick a favorite version of the song so I posted them all. You pick, I can’t.

Auld Lang Syne with lyrics:

Doug MacLean on the album Tribute

Beautiful Scotland:

The following song has nothing to do with religion or the New Year for most people. This song is for my beloved cousin Jeannie who won’t be here with me on this New Year’s Day and for dear acquaintance Kristin and for all our loved ones who are not with us. This was the last song I played for Jeannie:

Jeff Buckley is also gone, having drowned as a young man as his career was taking off. It’s from his album Grace.

India has canceled their New Year celebrations because of the tragic and brutal murder of the young Indian girl. Good for India!

New Year's Day on Christmas Island, via NBC
New Year’s Day on Christmas Island, via NBC

Happy New Year Australia!

Click here for New Year traditions from around the world.