Wednesday, December 31, 2014

It's Almost a New Year

A New Year
In order to realign the Roman calendar with the sun, Julius Caesar had to add 90 extra days to the year 46 B.C. when he introduced his new Julian calendar. The Julian calendar closely resembles the more modern Gregorian calendar that most (!) countries around the world use today. As part of his reform, Caesar instituted January 1 as the first day of the year, partly to honour the month’s namesake: Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, whose two faces allowed him to look back into the past and forward into the future.  The move to the Gregorian Calendar took place starting in 1582 and was adopted country by country.  There's a schedule here:

What are the unusual New Year's traditions - Spain's 12 grapes seems to make the top of the list for many. In Spain they eat 12 grapes at midnight - one for each stroke of the clock and for the coming 12 months ahead.  They have to be eaten in 12 seconds for the new year to have good luck.

There are six common profiles of those who've been (mostly) successful achieving this feat:
  1. Zen Master – Neatly lines up the grapes and methodically eats them one by one, while meditating on the sound of the 12 chimes. Starts the New Year fully in the moment.
  2. Full Frontal – Embraces the New Year with gusto by shoving all of the grapes in their mouth at once. Worries about swallowing them later.
  3. False Starter – Anxious about getting all 12 grapes down, starts eating the first one before midnight strikes, which doesn’t count and is said to bring bad luck.
  4. Reina Isabel – Prepares grapes in advance by cutting them in half. Eats them with a fork from a plate. Eating the grapes by halves may be less authentic, but it is the best method for small children, and for anyone worried about looking like a slob.
  5. Exhibitionist – Also known as “el chulo.” Sees grape eating as another extreme sport, or just a chance to show off. Starts the New Year with an ego boost, by throwing the grapes in the air and catching them in their mouth. Requires secret pre-New Years’ Eve practice.
  6. Drunken Style – Makes an effort to eat the grapes but cracks up, starts talking, drinking, hugging or otherwise gets distracted midway through the 12 grapes. This is, needless to say, what happens most often. Happy New Year

The most famous ritual in the U.S. is the dropping of a giant ball in New York City's Times Square. Dillsburg Pennsylvania drops a pickle in celebration of the stroke of midnight.  

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