Thursday, December 31, 2009

Auld Lang Syne

Grocery shopping has taken on a whole new meaning since Herb retired.
We spend twice as long, we move twice as slowly, we spend more.
My friend Jan warned me, "Never let (him) take over pushing the cart."
I think that is a good general all around warning for new retirees' wives.

Anyhow, this week, near the end of our seemingly endless trek, Herb slowed down to an interminable snail's pace. I'm not kiddin'. I thought maybe The Old Timers was kicking in.
After a few minutes, I figured out he was searching for something near the front of the store check-out aisles. Every s-i-n-g-l-e lane.

The new year's The Old Farmer's Almanac is a tradition in our house, and I'd forgotten. No wonder he was spending so much time in the magazine department while I was picking up mouthwash and aspirin in the next department over. We bought a copy. Mission accomplished.

(An oldie but goodie, eh? I just tripped across it while Googling for the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne. The grocery store reference was totally coincidental with my vignette above. Wooo.
Speaking of coincidences AND oldies but goodies, Herb brought home a season of Northern Exposure on dvd, from the library, the very day I posted that Solstice clip below. He doesn't read the blog - and we hadn't been talking about N/Ex either. Let me repeat, Wooo - I'm beginning to think Googling is the new Tarot, or tea leaves. )

Modern old gal that I am, I get free weekly updates in my email. "Wit and Wisdom delivered to your email box from The Old Farmer's Almanac," a.k.a. the Almanac Companion Newsletter. You can subscribe (link)

Here's a sample of Almanac-ky type information/trivia that I love to read, from this week's newsletter (slightly edited):

New Year’s Eve—December 31
Among the various superstitions surrounding the advent of the New Year is the nearly mandatory practice of noisemaking at midnight.
Now looked upon as mere revelry, it was once meant to drive out the old year and banish evil spirits, who would be scared off by the noise.
Many end-of-year practices actually date from ancient times. As early as 2600 B.C., Babylonians celebrated the new year with 11-day-long feasts and originated the noisemaking habit.
• In ancient Thailand, guns were fired to frighten off demons.
• In China, firecrackers routed the forces of darkness.
• In the early American colonies, the sounds of pistol shots rang through the air.
Today, Italians let their church bells peal, the Swiss beat drums and pots and pans, and North Americans sound sirens, car horns, boat whistles, and party horns—as well as set off fireworks—to bid the old year farewell.

Hogmanay—December 31
The Scottish celebrate Hogmanay, the word children use to ask for their traditional present of an oatmeal cake.

The custom of first-footing is also an important part of the celebration. The first person to cross the threshold into one's home, called the first footer, is an indication of the year to come. Although the tradition varies, if the first footer is tall and dark, the year will be a good one.

December 31—the Full Moon is blue
The 31st brings a second full Moon this month—a so-called “blue Moon”—to adorn the final night of the year. When there are two full Moons in a single month, the second is often called a “blue Moon.” On average, a "blue Moon" occurs once every 2-1/2 to 3 years.

This full Moon is called the Long Nights Moon by some Native American tribes.

What’s “NEW”?
The beginning of a new year has always been a matter of preference!
• Ancient Egypt believed that it occurred when the Nile overflowed its banks.
• Some Native Americans waited for the ripening of acorns.
• The Romans, in 153 B.C., were the first to use January 1, but this date wasn’t accepted by the American colonists until 1752.
Today, Orthodox Eastern churches celebrate on January 14; the Chinese New Year falls between January 21 and February 20; and the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, arrives between September 6 and October 5.

What’s “AULD”?
“Auld Lang Syne” is sung at the stroke of midnight on December 31 in almost every English-speaking country in the world.
Written by Robert Burns in 1788, it was first published in 1796 after Burns’s death. “Auld Lang Syne” literally means “old long ago” or, simply, “the good old days.”

Don't forget to pick up your copy of of the 2010 The Old Farmer's Almanac. Happy New Year!

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