Wednesday, January 1, 2014

It's a Brand New Year!

You made it! Not just through last night, but through all of last year! Definitely pat yourself on the back! The good news is a new year has begun, full of hope and good intentions and maybe you'll stick with a resolution or two.

My family always, always, always dines on black eyed peas and collards to kick off our new year. If you are looking for ways to enjoy these foods, you can try a couple of versions of Hoppin' John - here or here. If you are looking for a different way to try collards, you can try Collard Greens in Phyllo. If you want a way to combine both your peas and your collards, you can try this delicious Southern Chili.

Other countries and cultures have their own selections of New Year's Day foods, and you might choose instead to try some of those. Many have a practice of hiding an almond or a raisin in dishes, especially rice puddings. The lucky one to find the hidden treat is promised a year of good fortune. In some Asian countries, long uncut noodles represent a long life. The Spanish and Portuguese eat 12 grapes for good luck for the coming year.

A couple of ideas for rituals to jumpstart the new year might include:

Honoring the Three Fates
Called the Parcae (Roman), Moirae (Greek), or Norns (Germanic), the Fates are the controllers of destiny: one spins the thread of life, one measures it, and one cuts it. Today, therefore, this New Year' s Day, is a day to open to the dance of free will and determinism. Allow yourself to find acceptance of what is and create intention around what will be. Call on the three Fates to work with you as you delve more deeply into your soul 's purpose and put energy toward your heart' s yearning:
"O Fates! I call upon you to witness my work;
I trust in your wisdom.
As I walk my path, I release attachment to outcomes;
And I embrace the alignment of my inner and outer worlds.
Today, I make a commitment to myself and all that makes me
Who I have been, who I am, and who I will be."
Holiday lore: New Year 's Day calls for safeguards, augurs, charms, and proclamations. All over the world on this day, people kiss strangers, shoot guns into the air, toll bells, and exchange gifts. Preferred gifts are herring, bread, and fuel for the fire.
(Chandra Alexandre, Llewellyn, January 01, 2011)

Today is a traditional day of new beginnings. Focus on a specific resolution if you like, or simply send out a request for a happy and prosperous year to come. Wrap equal amounts of the following dried herbs in a white cloth:
Rose petals
Tie the bundle and chant:
To bring me luck,
To bring me love,
for peace and to protect.
May insight be
a guide to me -
no worries, no regrets.
Success be mine,
patience and time,
I cast this New Year's spell.
I now begin,
with hope I send,
a wish that all be well.
Carry this talisman with you or keep it on your altar as long as you like.
(by Ember Grant - January 01, 2012)

An old European custom was making a pilgrimage on New Year's Day. If that isn't possible, then take the day to visit friends and relatives, or make a long distance phone call to someone who would dearly love to hear from you.

If you have young children, let them decorate a large sheet of construction paper with handprints, photographs, drawings, ticket stubs or anything collected from the past year that will lie flat. Once done, have them sign their name on it, and take the finished piece of art and have it laminated. They will have a cool placemat for the year, full of happy memories from the past year.

Of you could just kick back, put your feet up, watch a movie and just enjoy spending the time with family and friends, relishing the fact that you have a whole new year ahead of you. Whatever you do, make it fun.
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