Saturday, January 1, 2011

Traditions: Mourning The Passing Of The Old And Celebrating The Birth Of The New

I've come to the conclusion that all the celebrations around the new year make me homesick. Every year back home there are certain traditions that are observed on new year's eve that really make the night for me. The being with friends and family, the standing with crossed arms and holding hands with everyone you're celebrating with in a circle to sing 'Auld Lang Syne' at the stroke of midnight before going round hugging and kissing each other with best wishes for the new year, the newer tradition of fireworks in our too-small gardens,the old tradition of going knocking on your neighbours' doors with a bottle of whatever's handy to wish them a happy new year. I miss all of that. I don't even think it would be possible in other places because people don't live close enough to each other. Growing up on a row of terraced houses, you're never really alone. Everyone knows what's going on with everyone else. If it rains and you have washing drying on the line in the yard, your neighbours either knock on your window to let you know or they'll take it in for you if you're out. In summer we stand in our yards and talk to each other over the fences. When I was younger, homebrew kept in sheds would be shared too. There were street parties, we would sit on the street and talk to each other.

I don't think I'm really homesick for any place at new year's eve but rather a time. I see those old traditions disappearing even back home and it makes me sad in the same way that my dialect and the decreasing numbers of speakers of that dialect does. And I really believe in keeping traditions, they're our link to our ancestors but sometimes they're just not possible.

So you sometimes have to create anew and I think last night, we finally came up with something nice.

Being outside in the falling snow, with a background of fireworks, dancing our own dance and singing 'Auld Lang Syne' was really nice. A bottle of whisky tucked in my bag kept us warm and when we got home, I kept an old tradition that I could keep in its entirety: opening the door to let the old year out and the new year in.

Today more new traditions were created. We cleaned the house, then we cleaned ourselves and our clothes before I blessed the house with mugwort again and said a short prayer to Frija and Holda.

These new traditions feel good, even though I still mourn the old ones that are passing into memory and I hope they help bring us luck.

So, happy new year people and I wish you all the best for this coming year.

May it be a lucky one for us all!


Mark Andersen said...

" I kept an old tradition that I could keep in its entirety: opening the door to let the old year out and the new year in."

We do that one too. I had never heard of it until I lived with Dorff.

Birka said...

See!! Yet another reason why Dorff is awesome :).