Frozen Peas in December 2010
The first month of the year is named after Janus, the two-faced roman god. He was the god of doorways, watching the front entrance with one face and the back door with the other.
Very fitting for a first month!
The Dutch once called January, Lauwmaand: the frosty month. And the Saxons called it Wulf-monath because the hungry wolves would be especially troublesome at this time of year.
4000 years ago the Babylonians already celebrated the new year... on March 1st. In 46 B.C. Julius Caesar changed the date to January 1st to reflect the changes the sun went through. The change was followed by the Egyptians and Celtic people.
The Babylonians also started the tradition of good resolutions by returning items they had borrowed during the year.
The image of Father Time is often used to illustrate the old year and the baby usually shown with him depicts the New Year. Father Time is a personification of time. He is an elderly bearded man, dressed in a robe, carrying a scythe and an hourglass or other timekeeping device. He was adapted from Cronus, the father of Zeus, and he belonged to the people known as the Titans in ancient mythology. Cronus existed before the Greek gods far back in the earliest stages of mythology.
The baby usually wears a diaper and a sash telling which year he represents. The depiction of the New Year as a baby started in Greece in 600 BC.
It is often customary to make a lot of noise for New Year to scare away the evil spirits.
And my French grandmother always gave her (numerous) grandchildren a big fat shiny 50 francs silver coin on January 1st so that we would be lucky all year long.
Another tradition that I find very convenient indeed: do not clean or throw trash away lest good fortune be swept away from you. And don't do the laundry or a family member could be washed away.
I'll be sure to do none of that. I wouldn't want to harm anybody after all!
And it'll free time to pour over seed catalogs. Now that's a good plan.
A happy, healthy and lucky New Year to you and yours :)