Have you ever had one of those nights when you wake up in the wee sma hours and your brain will NOT go back to sleep?
Recently I did, and my mind went round and round about things we do at the year’s end and beginning and why. These celebrations are as old as time itself. Back in prehistoric times, bonfires were lit and rites of worship were performed at the winter solstice.
Our month of January is supposedly named for the Roman god Janus whose two faces looked backwards and forwards at the same time – you’ve heard someone call someone else two faced, and it wasn’t a compliment, but Janus was all seeing, both past and future.
In rural areas, farm workers often ended their term of service at the end of December, and used the slow time to move to another job, and/or to get married!
In the Shetland a more recent invention is the ceremony of Up Helly Aa, probably based on folk tales from long ago. A wooden ship is set alight and sent sailing away to the afterlife with the souls of heroes and warriors.
I remember the Oddfellows Parade through our village, led by the youngest, that is the newest, member, sitting backwards on a horse which was led by his friends all dressed up and disguised, and carrying flaming torches! Even now it is an exciting event, and the buses are stopped at both ends of the village to let the parade run its course.
It has even been suggested that the date of Christ’s birthday was made to coincide with the more ancient and pre-existing rites, like many other dates as civilizations change and swallow up their predecessors. You can access information about Oddfellows and Up Helly Aa and other similar topics on the internet, and it is very interesting to read the information they give.
Today, Jan. 1 is seen as a good time for new beginnings and for making resolutions to help us improve in one way or another by starting off the New Year with a clean slate. Whatever has gone wrong before is to be forgiven and forgotten, and a new beginning is established. Now is a good time to start afresh in whatever area you want to be better in, in the coming year.
Our group starts up again on Jan. 5 with Bridge and follows the regular program of events from there, so that will be a good chance to start afresh and join in our fun!
I wish everyone success in whatever realm they seek success in 2015. May you all find health, happiness and friendship in 2015!