Holiday Traditions – January


New Year’s Day: January 1
Epiphany: January 6

New Year’s Day: January 1

The origins of new year’s celebrations go back at least 4,000 years to the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians. At the end of September, Egypt’s Nile River heralded a new beginning for farmers as it flooded the land, enriching it with the silt necessary to grow crops for another year.

Each spring, the Babylonians held a festival to kick off the next cycle of planting and harvest. Symbolically, the king was stripped of his robes and sent away for a few days while the people celebrated. When he returned in all his finery, a grand parade was held, and then the normal activities of life returned for the new year.

When the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar established his own calendar in 46 BC, he selected January 1 as the entryway to the new year. The Roman Senate had actually tried to make the first of January New Year’s Day in 153 BC, but it wasn’t until Caesar stretched out 47 BC for 445 days that the date we’re familiar with was synchronized with the sun. We’ve been on the Julian calendar to this day.

Around the world, different cultures have their own traditions for welcoming the new year.In New York,hundreds

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of thousands of people come together in Times Square to watch an illuminated ball drop. Millions more watch on television at home. In the East, the Japanese hang a rope of straw across the front of their houses to keep out evil spirits and bring happiness and good luck.

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In India, thousands of tiny oil lamps light up the dark during the festival of Diwali (which celebrates the victory of good over evil — and the glory of light). In West Bengal, in northern India, people wear pink, red, purple, and white flowers. Women favor yellow, the color of spring. Customarily, Hindus leave shrines next to their beds so they can see beautiful objects when they wake up to the new year.

In Israel, the rich voice of the shofar (a ram’s-horn trumpet) ushers in the coming year. And in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canadians enjoy the traditional polar bear swim. People of all ages throw on their swim suits and jump into the freezing waters. If not particularly fun, at least it’s an event that’s sure to inspire New Year’s alertness!

A New Year’s Eve tradition that’s gathering steam worldwide celebrates the visual and performing arts. Begun in Boston in 1976, an organization called First Night promotes alcohol-free festivals in over 200 North American cities, and various other locales including parts of New Zealand and England.

First Night celebrations typically include ice sculptures, dancing, storytelling, theater, poetry, films, and at the stroke of midnight, an elaborate fireworks display. Wherever you happen to be, and whatever your celebrations entail, FTD Florists Online wishes you peace, success, and joy for the new year!

Sources:
execpc.com
historychannel.com

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Epiphany: January 6

As in many European countries, some American and Canadian children receive gifts on the feast of the Epiphany, commemorating the gifts of the Magi presented to the newborn Jesus. According to legend, the Magi travel through the country each year re-enacting their journey to Bethlehem. An exchange of small gifts may occur on January 6.

Today, the Epiphany season has taken on a broader significance in the West, emphasizing Jesus’ interactions with gentiles, beginning with his own Baptism. Epiphany begins on January 6 and continues through the day before Lent (the Christian season of repentance which occurs forty-days before Easter).

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